Suwannee River Stumpknocker Just Misses State Record

Craig James | July 8, 2024

Kaden Forsythe, of Homerville, reeled in the spotted sunfish of a lifetime while fishing the Suwannee River near Fargo. It set the new river record and just missed the state record.

On June 22, 15-year-old Kaden Forsythe, of Homerville, reeled in the spotted sunfish of a lifetime while fishing the Suwannee River near the tiny town of Fargo.

The day started out like any other fishing trip, and the 10th grader admits that setting a record was the last thing on his mind.

“I was fishing out of my kayak, and my dad and cousin were fishing in another boat. We were mainly planning on targeting panfish,” said Kaden.

The anglers began fishing right as daylight broke, and within minutes, Kaden had missed two good fish on a topwater bug he was fishing.

“They were good fish, and they hit it really hard, they just didn’t grab it. I knew they were wanting it though,” Kaden said.

Kaden continued fishing the topwater lure for the next few minutes, coming to a turn in the river.

“I came around the bend in the river, and there were a couple of tupelo trees right there. One was out on a point, and the roots were exposed. That’s where I pitched my Swamp Spider,” said Kaden.

When the foam bug hit the water, it was greeted by a sudden explosion. Kaden set the hook hard and fought to pull the fish from the structure.

“He really wasn’t fighting that hard, it was like pulling in dead weight. When he came up and surfaced, it was like he was so big that he couldn’t even swim right,” said Kaden.

The big, dark fish had all the attributes of a spotted sunfish, commonly known on the Swamp as a stumpknocker, but due to its dark coloring and huge size, Kaden had trouble deciphering just what species the fish was.

“Once I took a good long look at it and showed it to my dad, we were certain it was a stumpknocker, just a whole lot bigger then any other we had ever seen,” said Kaden.

The anglers weighed the behemoth fish on handheld scales they had in the boat, and it tallied in at 12 ounces even.

“That’s when we figured out this fish could be the state record. We were really excited,” said Kaden.

The anglers fished the remainder of the morning, catching more than 50 panfish between them, most of which bit on topwater. Several other big fish were caught on the trip, including four bluegill over a pound and several spotted sunfish that weighed more than 10 ounces.

“We got the fish home and weighed it on digital kitchen scales, and they read 12 ounces, as well. It was the weekend, so we iced the fish down the best we could and hoped it would hold its weight until Monday,” said Kaden.

Kaden and his dad took the fish to the Waycross Fisheries Office on the following Monday where it was weighed at 11.75-ozs., missing the state record book by a fraction of an ounce, but still setting an impressive Suwanee River mark for the GON Lake and River Records.

When asked if he was going to try and surpass his newly set record, Kaden had this to say: “I’m going to catch a bigger one. I know they’re in there. I’m going to break that state record.”

GON’s Official Suwannee River Record Fish

Bowfin16-lbs., 3-ozs.*Jimmy Tucker06/21/14
Warmouth1-lb., 3.2-ozs.Terry Palmer02/22/22
Chain Pickerel2-lbs., 14.53-ozs.Jonathan Inman06/05/22
Bluegill1-lb., 4.16-ozs.Robert McCain05/02/22
Spotted Sunfish11.75-ozs.Kaden Forsythe06/22/24

Catch A Lake or River Record? Requirements For Record Fish

• Fish must be caught legally by rod and reel in a manner consistent with WRD fish regulations.

• Catch must be weighed on accurate Georgia DOA certified scales with at least two witnesses present.

• Witnesses to the weighing must be at least 18 years old, and they must not be members of the angler’s immediate family nor have a close personal relationship with the angler.

• Catch must be positively identified by qualified DNR personnel. GON can correspond with DNR when high-quality, multiple photos are taken of the fish and emailed to GON. All record submissions and photos must be sent to [email protected].

GON’s records are compiled and maintained by GON, to be awarded at GON’s discretion. Additional steps may be required for record consideration.

View Benchmarks For GON Lake & River Records

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