Fremont, Ohio — A new Ontario record smallmouth bass was caught in early November by 54-year-old Gregg Gallagher, of Fremont, Ohio.
When he finally got it to a certified scale, the massive bass weighed in at 10.15 pounds on the digital scale. He was fishing in the Western Basin of Lake Erie, but the area that he was targeting with his son, Grant, was in Canadian waters.
The lunker will be breaking a 68-year-old province of Ontario record set by Andy Anderson, who caught a 9.84-pound smallmouth bass in Birchbark Lake (near Kinmount, Ontario) back in 1954. The Ohio bass record will continue to be a 9.5-pound bass caught by Randy VanDam of Kalamazoo, Mich., back in 1993 on the west side of the Bass Islands in Ohio waters, again in the Western Basin of the lake.
It was on the fateful day of Nov. 3 that Gregg, and his son, Grant, were given a free fishing pass when school was closed due to fog. Both are school teachers and they immediately hooked up the BassCat and off they went to target big hawgs in an area that Grant thought held promise after some extensive scouting. When the fish hit the bait – before it even hit the bottom – he immediately knew it was a good fish. In fact, he was thinking that it was probably a sheepshead.
“We quickly learned we had just caught the smallmouth of a lifetime,” said the elder Gallagher, a business teacher at Fremont Ross High School. “After a quick estimated weight in the boat, we knew the fish was approaching at least 9 pounds, and we immediately started to think of what we needed to do if it was.”
With the help of Travis Hartman, administrator for Lake Erie fisheries in Ohio, the proper paperwork was filled out and sent into Ontario’s Ministry of Natural Resources. The big bass measured 23 3⁄4 inches long with a girth of 19 3⁄8 inches.
Gallagher credits his son, Grant, 24, with his recent success. They have been fishing together for nearly two decades, since Grant was 5 years old. Smallmouth bass became a recent favorite species (after many years of a walleye focus) when Grant was on the Adrian College bass fishing team in Michigan. It was Grant doing the scouting to identify new locations that have the potential for holding big fish. He found one.
What was the lucky lure and technique? They are not quite ready to share that information yet.
“The countless time Grant has spent scouting, graphing, and working on fine tuning our smallmouth techniques all paid off when he located what we both knew was a unique and likely unfished spot,” Gallagher said. “With an abundance of baitfish located and a unique bottom content found via long days behind the graphs, we dropped down our forward-facing sonar and were able to individually target these pelagic smallmouth.”
The angling duo is still a bit off from the world record smallmouth, a 11-pound, 15-ounce bass reeled in by David Hayes while fishing Dale Hollow Reservoir (on the Tennessee-Kentucky border) back in 1955. No one believed that the Province of Ontario record could have been beat, either. It only takes one big fish…and a passion for catching big bass.