Smallmouth bass sets new state record
Hubbard Lake, Mich. — Landing a record-breaking fish of any species is a fantasy most anglers wouldn’t mind fulfilling. Rarely, however, does that dream come to fruition.
But that’s exactly what happened for Rhodes, Mich., resident Greg Gasicel on Sunday, Oct. 18, 2015, when his green-colored twister-tail grub came to an abrupt halt under the surface of Alcona County’s 8,850-acre Hubbard Lake during a local “Bass Anglers of the Sunrise Side” derby.
After a long, drawn-out battle, Gasicel ended up landing a 9-pound 5-ounce smallie that beat the 109-year-old record as the largest smallmouth bass ever landed in Michigan. The mammoth smallie measured 24.5 inches long.
It all started out three weeks prior, when the regular tournament partner of Gasicel’s life-long friend, Scott Somerfield, had to cancel out on fishing that day’s tournament. Knowing the weather could be anything but pleasant, Gasicel still agreed to head out onto Hubbard with his bud.
“Scott and I used to fish some tournaments together,” Gasicel said. “We thought we knew how to fish. Come to find out, we didn’t. We got our butts kicked those first few years.
“But then he started fishing more and more, and got better and better. This fish is a testimonial of how far Scott has come in competitive bass fishing.”
What stood out most about this behemoth smallmouth for Gasicel? The strike and battle.
“I know what a bite feels like,” Gasicel said. “But this fish hit so hard it actually shook my upper body. After a while I tightened the drag, but still couldn’t turn it. Scott thought I had possibly foul-hooked a carp. Then I loosened the drag and half the line emptied from the spool. We still weren’t sure what I had hooked.”
After a few more minutes, the duo turned the boat and chased down the fish. And that’s when Gasicel finally started making headway.
The fish nearly to the boat, Gasicel heard his partner holler “Holy cow!” And then it was in the net.
“The first thing Scott said after that was ‘You just caught the next state record,’” Gasicel said. The two went silent after that. “It was an eerie silence. I mean, we had talked all day prior to that, you know, just catching up. I guess we were in shock.”
Gasicel fished a little more after landing the humongous bass, but then spent the latter part of the day keeping the fish upright in the livewell. Had the beast not actually have beaten the old state-record smallie – a 9-pound 4-ouncer, which was 27.25 inches in length and landed over a century ago in nearby Long Lake by W.F. Shoemaker in 1906 – his fish would have been released back into the lake.
To become a state record, however, the state of Michigan requires any fish to be verified by a Michigan DNR fisheries biologist. And in the case of Gasicel’s record-breaking bass, was done the following evening by Kathrin Schrouder of the DNR’s Bay City office.
“The fish was just massive,” says Schrouder. “It was short, stout, and its tail was just so thick.
“I’m getting asked how old a bass of this caliber would be. It’s hard to say. Even aging the fish by scale-sampling it would not be real accurate. Besides that, it would ruin the mounting of this fish, which the angler intends on doing.”
Gasicel’s fish was one of two brought to the boat that day, for a total of 14.48 pounds, which put the duo in fourth place of the derby.