NY State Record Smallmouth Bass, 8 lbs On Cayuga Lake
Thomas Russell, of Albion, caught a new state record smallmouth bass Wednesday on Cayuga Lake. The super smallie weighed 8 pounds, 5.8 ounces, beating the previous state record smallmouth by almost two ounces.
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has yet to officially announce the record, but we spoke to Russell earlier today after officials certified the scale used to weigh his fish.
“Unbelievable man,” Russell said. “When I first hit him I was like, ‘I think we got a giant!’ ”
In this video (below), Russell’s Huge 8-pound smallmouth bass can be seen tipping the official tournament scale at 8 pounds, 5.8 ounces. He didn’t have time to get a length measurement. After posing for a few hasty snapshots, he released the potentially new state record smallmouth bass for New York back into the middle of the lake.
Russell and his cousin, Eric Sullivan, were competing in the Finger Lakes Open trail bass tournament. Like most competitive anglers, Russell declined to give details that might give away the location of his honey hole, but he did say that he and Sullivan had caught “numerous” good-sized smallmouth before the lunker came along.
“By midday, we were sitting on a really nice bag of smallmouth bass,” said Russell. At around 11 a.m., he flipped a drop shot baited with a Berkley MaxScent flatnose minnow into 8-10 feet of water.
“I was using 12-pound test line, so it was just a real good fight,” Russell said. “He come up, jumped a couple of times, and you get all nervous when you see the size of him and see him jumping. It was spectacular. Gave me the fight of a lifetime for sure.”
Potentially A New State Record Smallmouth Bass in New York
After netting the fish, the men weighed it onboard.
“Our scale was bouncing just above, then just below” eight pounds, Russell said. That’s when they knew it just might be a state record, which at that moment stood at 8 pounds, 4 ounces for both a Lake Erie smallmouth caught in 1995, and one taken in 2016 from the St. Lawrence River.
“Our main goal was to get that fish back in the water as healthy as we could,” Russell said. “We took him back out to the cooler water, so that way he had a better survival rate.”
Russell and Sullivan released their state record bass in Cayuga Lake.
Russell and Sullivan hauled 30-pounds and 15 ounces of smallmouth to the scales that day, enough to win the tournament and $1,850. The men have won other team tournaments on Cayuga Lake, but that was their first win on the Finger Lakes Open trail.
“I’m surprised they didn’t do better,” said Rob Aftuck, the tournament’s organizer. “I didn’t know a state record smallmouth bass was coming, but I knew 30 pounds of smallies was coming to the scale for sure.”
Aftuck said that Cayuga Lake was “exploding” with baitfish right now.
“There’s so many sawbellies and gobies and alewives, it’s just crazy,” he said. “Everything you catch out of that lake is fat.”
When pressed to divulge where on Cayuga Lake Russell caught the state record smallmouth bass, Aftuck laughed.
“The Cayuga Lake part,” Aftuck said. “I know there’s a bigger one out there, I’m sure of it. It’s been caught, it just wasn’t during the season.”