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Ocmulgee River Hybrid Record Established

You don't see many of these fish washed down to Ben Hill County, but that's where the new record was caught.

Brad Gill | April 8, 2020

Josh McDonald, of Americus, caught a hybrid bass on April 4 that weighed 7-lbs., 11.84-ozs. that sets a benchmark for a brand-new river record on GON’s Georgia Lake and River Records list. He was spending the day with his older brother Jason and his twin brother Justin.

“We are all baseball coaches, so we never have an opportunity to go fishing this time of year (because of COVID-19), so we figured we may as well take advantage of the hunting and fishing,” said Josh.

Josh said they grew up in Fitzgerald, so they’re familiar with fishing the river.

“We have hunting property there. We’d been turkey hunting and fishing,” said Josh. “All three of us were together the whole day.”

After an unsuccessful morning in the turkey woods, the three launched a Bass Tracker from a private ramp in Ben Hill County about 10:30.

“When we got there the water was a little bit higher than what we thought, but we decided to try it anyway,” said Josh. “We went upriver to some spots we’ve known and caught a few catfish and bream bouncing around. Then we decided to go back down the river.”

Josh said a guy has built a house on an island, and they really just wanted to check it out.

“We went down there to see it, and my older brother said, ‘Why don’t we stop right here and fish a little bit before we go?'” said Josh. “We tied up right there at the split of the river where it goes around the island.”

Josh and his brothers were bottom fishing with bait. At the time, Josh was using a worm fished on a Bill Dance Catfish Baitcast Rod and Reel Combo.

“Sure enough that thing hit it,” said Josh. “He went out into the main current instead of going toward the bank, so we were able to get him. He took drag a couple of times. It felt a lot bigger than 7 pounds when fighting in that current. It took five or 10 minutes to get him in.”

The trio of brothers were surprised when they got the hybrid bass in the boat.

“That’s the first one I’ve caught and that I’ve ever heard of being caught in that area. I’ve heard of people catching them up around Macon,” said Josh.

WRD Senior Fisheries Biologist Tim Bonvechio verified that a hybrid that far down was not real common.

“We don’t see a ton of hybrids caught in the river, but that is a dandy for sure and worth the record for now,” said Tim. “They are stocked in Jackson, so some do get over the dam and make their way into the river.”

Claiming the new river record was immediately on Josh’s mind.

“We get the GON, and we never remembered seeing a hybrid bass in there for the Ocmulgee River,” he said.

Josh began making a few phones and was able to connect with WRD Fisheries Technician 3 Jesse Boles, who was able to verify the fish species as a hybrid bass. The fish was weighed on official scales at Bishop’s Country Store, 806 N Grant St., Fitzgerald, Georgia 31750 and witnessed by Delene Clark and several others.

“Is it a river record?” Delene asked GON when we called to verify the weight.

She was excited for Josh and glad to offer a service to help add a new species to GON‘s Georgia Lake and River Records list. When you’re in Fitzgerald, stop in, see Delene and tell her thank you.

To cap off an already excellent day, Josh’s older brother killed a turkey at 6:30 that evening.

We’re sure the three brothers are missing their baseball teams, but we bet they’re not complaining about all the good hunting and fishing their getting to do as a result of COVID-19.

GON has compiled and keeps records for most major lakes and rivers in Georgia. See all the official Georgia Lake & River Records here. 

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