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Young Angler Sets Three Withlacoochee River Benchmarks In One Day

GON Staff | June 26, 2024

Colt James, 11, of Waycross, recently set three benchmark records on the Withlacoochee River near Valdosta.

On Friday, June 21, Colt James, of Waycross, managed to set three benchmark records on the Withlacoochee River near Valdosta. An impressive feat for any angler, at only 11 years old it made the accomplishment that much better.

“I’ve been wanting to catch a river record for a few years now, and I can’t believe I finally did it,” said the excited young angler.

Colt was fishing with his dad, Craig James, who is a regular freelance writer with GON when he accomplished the feat.

“I think one of the coolest things we’ve got going at GON is the Lake and River Records. With nearly every sizable body of water in the state included, it’s fun to be able to keep track of the size and caliber of fish people are catching,” said Craig.

View Benchmarks For GON Lake & River Records

Colt started the morning by catching a nice-size spotted sunfish, also known commonly as a stumpknocker, on a topwater bug. Confident it had a good shot at the benchmark record, he put the fish in the livewell.

“I really wanted to try and catch a record-size redbreast, too. But most of the redbreast we were catching were small,” said Colt.

Around lunchtime, Colt’s luck suddenly changed when he threw a small panfish spinnerbait to the middle of the river.

“I was throwing a GA Boy Lures Colt .45 spinnerbait when the big redbreast bit. The lure is actually made by our family’s company, GA Boy Lures, and it’s named after me,” said Colt.

After a tense battle that lasted 30 seconds or so, Colt was finally able to guide the big panfish into the net.

With one more benchmark record in his sights, Colt began to target bowfin, or as they are more commonly known in south Georgia, mudfish.

“I was throwing a white buzzbait and waking it slowly under the surface. Mudfish seem to really like that,” said Colt.

After hooking into a few smaller fish, suddenly Colt saw a big bowfin follow his lure.

“I told my dad I just saw a big one! Then he came up and bit it, and the fight was on,” said Colt.

After playing tug of war with the fish for nearly a minute, the anglers were finally able to wrestle the behemoth into the boat.

The anglers fished a little while longer before heading back to their hometown of Waycross to weigh and certify the fish at the WRD Waycross Fisheries Office.

All three fish were big enough to qualify as benchmark record. Each fish weighed the following: Bowfin (6-lbs., 8-ozs.), spotted sunfish (5.7-ozs.) and redbreast (10.75-ozs.)

When asked if Colt was excited about making it into the record books, he had this to say,

“ Yes-sir, but now I’m ready to go fishing again and try to break more records!”


GON’s Official Withlacoohee River Record Fish

Suwannee Bass1-lb., 14.08-ozs.Craig James10/21/23
Bowfin6-lbs., 8-ozs.Colt James06/21/24
Redbreast10.75-ozs.Colt James06/21/24
Spotted Sunfish5.7-ozs.Colt James06/21/24

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.

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