- Associated Press - Monday, August 22, 2016

MITCHELL, S.D. (AP) - State fish records are falling fast this year in South Dakota.

Anglers have landed six record-size fish with four months still left to go in 2016, already matching the record number of record fish caught in 2009, The Daily Republic newspaper reported (https://bit.ly/2bzLH30 ).

“It’s just kind of the luck of the draw, I’d guess,” said Geno Adams, fisheries program administrator for the state Game, Fish and Parks Department. “I can’t think of anything that would cause there to be a bunch of big fish caught.”

State fish records in South Dakota are split into two categories. Restricted catches are fish caught on a rod and reel. Unrestricted catches involve fish taken by any legal means other than a hook and line. That includes snagging, spearing, and bow and arrow.

Records set this year include chinook salmon and smallmouth bass in the restricted category, and smallmouth bass, smallmouth buffalo, European rudd and longnose gar in the unrestricted category.

Smallmouth buffalo, European rudd and longnose gar all are considered non-game fish. The records set this year might be due to an increase in popularity in bow fishing, according to Todd St. Sauver, regional fisheries biologist for Game, Fish and Parks.

“There might be slightly greater odds in setting a state record as you get more people out there,” he said.

The record chinook salmon caught in Lake Oahe is probably the least-surprising record.

“The reason we’re seeing these large-size salmon is because we have an abundance of lake herring populations that are 5 to 10 inches long,” regional fisheries biologist Bob Hanten Jr. said. “Lake herring are a high-energy, oily, cold-water food fish. It really is the ideal food to grow big salmon.”

Watertown resident Darrick Koch said he hopes his record 31 pound, 8 ounce salmon stands up for a least a year.

“Since I caught that one, there have been a half-dozen 20 pounds or bigger caught,” he said. “You know how fishing is - you have to be lucky and you have to drag the bait in front of the one that’s hungry.”


Information from: The Daily Republic, https://www.mitchellrepublic.com

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