Soon-to-be Illinois record fish: Freshwater drum, redear or redear hybrid

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Johnathan Inman had a long night’s journey into day to weigh his soon-to-be Illinois-record freshwater drum.

Just let me say, if you think we catch big drum from Lake Michigan, this one (38.25 pounds) will make you rethink that.

It was one of two Illinois record fish which should be formalized soon. Both fish illustrated the effort needed to get fish weighed on a certified scale in recent years.

Inman caught his drum while catfishing in early Thursday on Clinton Lake. He tried to first weigh it at the meat market Toohill Seed & Beef Service in Clinton. Then at R.P. Lumber, but their scale only went to 30 pounds.

Conservation Police Sgt. John Williamson, who also witnessed the weighing, suggested Heinkel’s Meat Packing in Decatur, where it weighed 38.25 pounds. Joe Rinella caught the current drum record (35 pounds) from DuQuoin City Lake in 1960.



On Friday, biologist Mike Garthaus examined the fish and Inman’s drum will be the state record when the paperwork is completed

Garthaus also noted, “We are getting more IDNR certified scales. There is only one per region right now. Clinton Lake has a scale now and it will be certified in October. That’s when our annual inspections are due and new scales will be done then. It is a hassle finding a place but it’s not impossible. I was lucky that Sgt. Williamson did the work finding a scale and witnessing the weighing.’’

May is by far the busiest month for Illinois fish records, 14 as of this year. There should be two more for May, pending the paperwork on Inman’s drum and the final determination of whether a record is a redear or redear hybrid.

The redear was caught May 19 from a lake in the Goose Lake Association. It was brought into Smith’s Taxidermy in Joliet.

“It is a big fish, no joke,’’ said Jamie Giltner of Giltner’s Taxidermy, operating from Smith’s. “I have never seen one so big.’’

As she remembered it, it was 14 ½ inches with a girth of 14 ¼ inches.

They were able to get it weighed on the certified scale at Miller’s Old-Fashioned Butcher Shop in Plainfield. At over 3 pounds, it would smash the current redear record (2-12.3) caught by Mike DeMattei on Sept. 7, 1985 from the Marion Country Club lake.

“I was shocked,’’ Giltner said. “This thing is massive. I have never seen one this big and I have been bluegill fishing all my life.’’

Question is whether it is a pure redear or a hybrid.

“Centrarchidae (sunfishes) are prone to hybridize,’’ biologist Rob Miller said.

He planned to take a sample of the fish’s tissue on Tuesday, then run the sample to the Illinois Natural History Survey lab for DNA testing.

Big fish stories are at the DNA level.



MONTROSE: The Chicago Park District has pulled its proposed inflatable water park by Montrose Beach. Click here for a story. It was odd, to say the least, in the first place to consider such by both the premier birding and fishing spots in Chicago.

STRAY CAST: After two months, the Cubs remind me of the March 1 opener at the Braidwood launch and boaters who forget to put their plugs in.

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