The joy of Indiana’s Fish of the Year: Hornyhead chub to brindled madtom to blue sucker; and Stray Cast
Indiana’s Fish of the Year keeps growing and provides a good excuse to look up unexpected and unknown fish; plus the Stray Cast.
Anthony Talarico Jr. caught three of Indiana’s Fish of the Year in 2021.
‘‘Once he discovered the Indiana Fish of the Year, he started measuring everything . . . lol,’’ his dad messaged. ‘‘He caught the burbot on a small chartreuse blade bait [while] jigging for lake trout in November. The creek chub was on a spawn sack in Salt Creek.’’
The three FOTY from Talarico, a sophomore at Marian Catholic, were yellow perch (13.5 inches caught from Lake Michigan in Lake County), burbot (29 inches, Lake Michigan, LaPorte) and creek chub (10.5 inches, Salt Creek, Porter).
His three FOTY paled by comparison to Joe Johnson’s six species caught from the Ohio and Wabash rivers.
Ron Anderson caught the smallest winner of 2021 with his 4-inch brindled madtom, a small member of the catfish family (Sugar Creek, Parke). That was one of four fish appearing for the first time, along with common shiner, mooneye and Talarico’s burbot.
Fish such as the brindled madtom are why I love perusing the list each year. I am talking about the kind of fish that I have to look up.
I mean things such as logperch (6 inches, Robert Bradley, Boggs Creek, Martin), redfin pickerel (10.9 inches, Joe Loewe, Loomis Lake, Porter), hornyhead chub (7.5 inches, Liu He, Salt Creek, Porter), blue sucker (28 inches, He, Tippecanoe River, White), silver chub (6.3 inches, Johnson, Wabash River, Tippecanoe) and mooneye (11.3 inches, Anderson, White River, Jackson).
Olaf Nelson, who holds Illinois’ shorthead redhorse record and is the founder of moxostoma.com, once asked whether I ever had heard of anyone catching a blue sucker. Now I could answer, ‘‘Why, yes, I have.’’
In looking up hornyhead chub, I found out that it is not what my younger brother and I used to catch occasionally when we were very young, barefoot and wading Lapp Run. The chubs we caught were more likely spawning male creek chubs, which have some curious spawning rituals (you can look it up).
The program had a record number of entries for the fifth consecutive year, as well as a record 54 species. It’s the kind of program that just makes me happy, in part because of the recognition that goes to a multitude of fish species.
I’m not buffaloed by those who grouse: ‘‘I caught one bigger than that.’’ You’ve got to enter to be recognized. No one entered a Chinook this year. You could have won with a 16-incher, for instance.
FOTY are judged by photos of the measurement of the total length (full sideview on measuring board or next to measuring tape). No weight is needed. Some anglers also must include a copy of their fishing license. Forms and details are at in.gov/dnr/fish-and-wildlife/fishing/indiana-record-fish-program.
By Tuesday, any hunter with a windshield card for public sites must file an online report.
The Henry Decoy Show is Sunday at Exposition Gardens in Peoria.
It’s February, which means it’s peak time for bucks to shed antlers. Shed of the Week restarts Saturday.
Capt. Mike Hanson of Starved Rock Guide Service, a patient teacher on the water, died Tuesday.
It might be a bad call on my part, but if Joe West fell through the ice, I would hesitate, then make a show of helping.