Angler catches new potential world record redear sunfish in Arizona

Arizona angler Hector Brito’s potential world record redear sunfish, which he caught in his home state’s Lake Havasu in February, topped out at nearly 6 pounds.Phoeniz, Ariz. — A pending world record fish was caught from Lake Havasu in Arizona last month. Hector Brito’s redear sunfish weighed 5.78 pounds, according to the Arizona Game and Fish Department.

Redear sunfish in the lake likely are benefitting from the invasive quagga mussels as a food source, the department reports. Brito caught the redear sunfish at 11:30 a.m. on Feb. 16 and brought it to Bass Tackle Master in Lake Havasu City, where John Galbraith weighed it at 5.78 pounds on an Arizona Game and Fish-certified scale. It was 17 inches long.

Brito caught the massive panfish with a drop-shot rig that included a No. 8 Aberdeen gold hook and a nightcrawler. The record awaits certification by the International Game Fish Association. The previous record, held by Bob Lawler, was 5.55 pounds and was caught in 2011. Redear sunfish have grown to trophy size in Lake Havasu.

Redear sunfish in the 2-pound range and larger are regularly caught in this 19,300-acre impoundment on the Colorado River, formed by Parker Dam, according to the Game and Fish Department.

“(Brito) said he thought it was a catfish,” Galbraith said. “I don’t know what the genetic potential is for redear. But this record fish was not even a spawning fish. There’s some out there that are in the mid-6 (pound range) easy.”

Galbraith said the redears have been getting exceptionally large during the past four years, when the lake has been infested with the invasive quagga mussels.

Crawdads eat quagga mussels, which could be another reason for the enlarged redear, as well as smallmouth bass.

“Redear, we assume, eat quaggas, although this hasn’t been proved,” the Game and Fish Department release says. “These sunfish meander along the bottom of lakebeds seeking and cracking open snails and other shelled creatures with its thick, pharyngeal teeth and hard, movable plates in its throat that allow it to crunch exoskeletons. Congrats to Mr. Brito on the record.”

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