Kash Gustafson, 8, appears to have caught the Illinois and world record shovelnose sturgeon
Kash Gustafson, 8, carries on the family tradition of Illinois record shovelnose sturgeon, only he went one better and also appears to have caught the world record.
Kash Gustafson gave a brief account of dinosaur-aged critters — from bugs to fish — and added: ‘‘T. rexes used to eat sturgeon. That’s why they have spikes on their backs.’’
I’m not sure if that is backed up by ichthyological studies of the Cretaceous Period, but I lean toward believing the precocious 8-year-old second-grader.
After all, he soon should hold the Illinois and world records for shovelnose sturgeon.
After his basketball game Oct. 21, Kash and dad Troy went night-fishing on the Rock River upriver of the Quad Cities.
‘‘It was creepy,’’ Kash said.
‘‘He had not been out at night in quite a while because of school,’’ Troy said.
They were on the Rock by 8:30 p.m., and the moment came around 10:15.
Troy noticed a line went slack — he said big shovelnoses often swim upriver when they take the bait — as Kash reeled one in on another rod. Kash then battled the second one. As it came in, Kash knew.
‘‘It was pretty big, big belly,’’ Kash said. ‘‘It looks like Lola [their fat-bellied wiener dog].’’
‘‘Drug that one in, you could hear all of us say, ‘Holy crap, look at the belly on that thing, like a big ol’ football,’ ’’ Troy said.
The sturgeon came on a night crawler on a 6/0 circle hook (circle hooks prevent gut-hooking) on 30-pound monofilament on a rod generally used for flathead catfish.
Troy has a big livewell, where he put the sturgeon until morning. Then they went to Carbon Cliff Bait & Tackle, where it was weighed at 11 pounds, 13 ounces on a certified scale and witnessed.
Illinois fisheries biologist David Wyffels stopped by with the paperwork. Jeremiah Haas, the principal aquatic biologist for Constellation’s Quad Cities Generating Station, where Troy works the night shift, verified it was a shovelnose. Haas broke the story for the Quad-City Times.
There are 27 sturgeon species worldwide, and shovelnose are the smallest. Illinois is home to three sturgeon: shovelnose, the federally endangered pallid sturgeon in the Mississippi River and the state-endangered lake sturgeon. Shovelnoses are state-protected where they overlap with pallids. There’s an ongoing study of shovelnoses in the Rock.
The Gustafson family dominates shovelnose records. Troy’s uncle Marty caught the Illinois record of 10 pounds, 8.2 ounces on Dec. 12, 2021, from the Rock River. Troy had caught the previous record weeks earlier in November 2021.
Kash will have the record when the paperwork is received by Illinois fisheries chief Mike McClelland and he signs off.
The world record might require a longer review by the International Game Fish Association, which recognizes Forrest Patrick Garrett Croff’s all-tackle record of 5.24 kilograms (11 pounds, 9 ounces). That was caught in Loma, Montana.
After being weighed and certified, Kash’s sturgeon was released.
The Tinley Park Fishing, Travel and Outdoor Expo (tinleyfishingexpo.com) is scheduled for the Tinley Park Convention Center in February. Looks like show season will be nearer to normal this winter.
Not sure why, but rhyming ‘‘otter’’ with ‘‘daughter’’ in Caamp’s ‘‘The Otter’’ bugs me.