Many anglers either aren’t worried about catching record fish, or assume they never will.
But there are a number of water bodies across the state that haven’t even had submissions for certain species of fish, and this leaves the door open for the angler who wants to obtain a record for himself.
Ron Smith, of the Inland Fisheries Department of Texas Parks and Wildlife, said the relative newness of the water body program could be a reason for lack of submissions.
“We started the water body program in 2009, so some of the water bodies haven’t even had people submit records,” he said. “The program hasn’t had time to catch up with itself — not all the water bodies have been visited by a competitive angler that participates in this.”
Smith said the minimum requirements to submit a weight record for approval include a fish being at least half a pound for adults, or .2 pounds for a junior angler.
“People can submit a fish if there’s no prior record, and that will become the record until somebody beats it,” he said. “There are a lot of water bodies people haven’t submitted records for, especially in the catch and release program.”
The qualifications for a catch and release record are different compared to a weight record where the angler must find a certified scale. Anglers must submit a picture holding the fish, a picture of the fish being measured, and also have a witness who can verify the accuracy.
Another way anglers can get into the record books is trying a less common form of fishing, such as using a fly-rod.
“We have a lot of people who will set a record for rod and reel and then they’ll try other methods of fishing,” Smith said.
Charles Dewey of San Antonio is one of the more prolific record-setters in the state, setting 137 total records, nine of which have been state records. He said being aware of the records before he fishes a particular water body makes a big difference, as well as submitting records for less-popular fish.
“I’m well aware of the records and how to get them,” Dewey said. “And I mean, who wants to get the green sunfish record for Leon Creek? Well, I do.”
Dewey thinks that not only are some anglers unaware of the current records or maybe don’t have a fishing license, but they don’t care to go through the process to obtain the record, either.
“The bass record for Live Oak City Lake is 5.25 pounds, and I watched a guy pull out a bass that must have been 8 pounds, and the guy looked at it and put it back like it was nothing,” he said. “I told him it would have been a record and he said, ‘I don’t care about records, I just like to catch them.’”
Dewey said even though he enjoys catching records, he knows it isn’t for everyone.
“If you want it bad enough, you have to be dedicated,” he said. “Records are just icing on the cake.”
A quick look on the TPWD website shows examples of records that are unclaimed.
For example, at Falcon Reservoir, there are no catfish or crappie submittals for fly-fishing records. On Lake Tawakoni, there is no submitted white bass record on a fly-rod. On Navarro Mills, there is no submission for a largemouth by a junior angler, and zero submittals for any fly-fishing records.