CAYUGA LAKE, N.Y. (WWTI) — June 15 was the opening day for bass harvest season, and one fisherman from Albion started the season with a record-breaking catch.

According to the Department of Environmental Conservation, Thomas Russell Jr. reeled in an eight-pound, six-ounce smallmouth bass from Cayuga Lake in Seneca County. The bass surpassed the previous record by two ounces which was a tie between fish caught on Lake Erie in 1995, and another caught in the St. Lawrence River in 2016.

DEC stated that smallmouth bass is considered one of the hardest-fighting freshwater fish in New York and will often leap acrobatically out of the water after being hooked. The species can be found across the state in cooler lakes, rivers, and creeks in rocky or gravelly areas. DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos highlighted Russell’s catch in a press release on Wednesday.

“Smallmouth bass are one of New York’s most popular freshwater sportfish and it’s exciting to share the great news of Mr. Russell’s record-breaking catch,” Commissioner Basil Seggos said. “New York’s Finger Lakes are truly an angler’s paradise, providing exceptional fishing opportunities for a variety of sportfish.” 

Russell submitted details of his winning catch as part of DEC’s Angler Achievement Awards Program, which tracks State-record fish. Anglers can enter freshwater fish that meet specific qualifying criteria and receive official recognition of their catch and an embroidered patch commemorating their achievement, through the program. The three categories that make up the program are: Catch and Release, Annual Award, and State Record.

More information on where to find smallmouth bass can be found on DEC’s Places to Fish and Warmwater Fishing webpages. Information on other state record fish can be found on DEC’s New York State Freshwater Fishing Records page.