‘You never plan to catch something that big – it’s a gift’

Brenda Carter (left) and her live release state record pumpkinseed that broke a record set a year ago by her daughter, Erika (right), with her then-record catch.

MADISON — Brenda Carter is the state’s newest state fish record-holder, but the lifelong angler is finding the honor a tad bittersweet: she broke the catch-and-release record for pumpkinseed sunfish set a year ago by her daughter, Erika Carter.

“You never plan to catch something that big – it’s a gift,” she said.

“That record was not something that was a goal for me. Erika goes to UW-Stevens Point for fisheries and she was very excited to have set the record.”

Yet when mother and daughter were fishing July 3 on Lake Noquebay in Marinette County and mom hauled in the 9-inch pumpkinseed, Erika was the one encouraging her mother to see if it was a record fish.

“She was looking up record requirements online while I was measuring the fish,” Brenda Carter says.

“We thought we had to beat the record by one-half inch but Erika saw we only needed to beat it by one-quarter inch, and my fish did. She encouraged me to fill out the paperwork and send it in to get the record.”

The Carters caught their two record pumpkinseeds on the same water, where the family owns a cabin, a year and a day apart. Brenda was fishing with Erika in 2017 when she caught her record pumpkinseed.

“It was one of those weird things,” Brenda Carter says.

“My daughter says (her mom setting the new fish record) gives her a goal to shoot for. It could be by the end of the summer. We hope to catch a bigger one someday!”

With a new live release state fish records program and a growing number of anglers fishing alternate methods like a bow and arrow, anglers are bringing in a string of state-record fish in 2018, says Karl Scheidegger, the fisheries biologist who coordinates the state record fish programs.

The records set in 2018 follow (to see more state fish records and to learn what to do if you think you’ve caught a record fish, click here):

Live release records

  • Todd Meerdink of Waupaca caught and released a 18-1/2-inch white bass on Feb. 10 from Sunset Lake in Waupaca County. This was the second time the white bass live release record has been broken over the past year.
  • Michael Esche of Cudahy caught and released an 11-inch bluegill on Feb. 28 from the Mississippi River in Crawford County. The fish bettered the existing record by a half-inch.
  • Scott Erickson of Burlington caught and released a 23-1/2-inch rainbow trout on March 31 from a private farm pond in Racine County.
  • Alex Gerucisi caught and released an 8-1/2-inch green sunfish on May 24 from an urban pond in Waukesha County.

By-weight records (hook and line)

  • Gregory Banbenek of Duluth, Minn., caught an 11-3/4-inch, 3/4-pound creek chub on Jan. 1 from Amnicon Lake in Douglas County, bettering the existing record by a little over 2 ounces.
  • Stanley Von Ruden of Norwalk set the initial record for a spotted sucker on Feb. 22 with a 20-1/2-inch, 4-pound, 10.2-ounce fish caught from Lake Onalaska in La Crosse County.
  • Scott Erickson of Burlington bettered the existing tiger trout record by a little over a quarter of a pound on May 9 when he stumbled on a 16-inch, 2-pound, 1-ounce fish from a private pond in Racine County.

By-weight records (alternate method)

  • Brandon Smith of Elkhorn bettered the existing white sucker record by almost two pounds when he shot a 24-1/2-inch, 6-pound 15.8-ounce fish on March 15 from Delavan Lake in Walworth County.
  • Records are meant to be broken. Ross Lubner of Campbellsport quickly surpassed the Smith fish by almost half a pound when he shot a 24-1/2-inch, 7-pound, 6.7-ounce white sucker a month later on April 21 from Pine Lake in Waukesha County.
  • It’s déjà vu all over again. Dale Fahrni shot a 22-inch, 5-pound, 6.7-ounce spotted sucker on April 21 from the Wisconsin River in Richland County that bettered his own record by almost half a pound set three years earlier.
  • Shawn Schmidt of Denmark set the initial record for a longnose sucker when he used a spear gun to shoot a 21-1/4-inch, 3-pound 9.9-ounce fish on April 29 from Lake Michigan in Door County.
  • Brian Thompson of Newburg Missouri shot a 35-5/8-inch, 5-pound, 1-ounce shortnose gar on May 27 from Lake Butte des Morts in Winnebago County that bested the existing record by almost half a pound.
  • Jason Behrens of Arcadia shot a 56-1/8-inch, 19-pound, 5.4-ounce longnose gar on May 24 from the Mississippi River in Trempealeau County. The fish broke the current record by almost a pound.
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