Vermont Fish and Wildlife today announced that a Longnose Gar taken by a bowfishing angler in 2023 has been certified as a new state record.
In May of 2023, Pennsylvania angler Jeremy Bicking was out bowfishing in the evening on Lake Champlain and took a gar that weighed 18.6 pounds. This big fish measured 54 ¾ inches in length, a ¼ inch longer but 3 ounces lighter than the current record Longnose Gar taken by rod and reel in 2007. State records are kept separately for four species of fish that can be taken both by hook-and-line and bowfishing.
Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department fisheries biologist Shawn Good, who administers the state’s Record Fish Program, says in recent years, anglers have expanded their species preferences to include many of the state’s under-appreciated but equally challenging native sport fish species.
“While fishing remains excellent for more traditional sport fish species such as bass, trout, walleye, and pike, there are so many other fish out there that can provide amazing action with real trophy potential. Fish like bowfin, gar, freshwater drum, suckers, and even fallfish – Vermont’s largest native minnow species -- the opportunities are endless,” said Good.
Although not new state records, two other notable fish were entered in the State Record Fish Program in 2023 – an 11.86 pound Walleye from Lake Champlain and a 25.6 pound Lake Trout from Echo Lake in Charleston.
“While Lake Champlain gets most of the attention for Lake Trout fishing opportunities and action in Vermont, many of the inland lakes in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom are real sleepers for big fish,” said Good.
“In fact, if you’re talking exclusively about trophy sized Lake Trout, the Northeast Kingdom is where you want to be,” said department fisheries biologist Jud Kratzer. All 69 Lake Trout exceeding 20 pounds that have been entered in the Record Fish Program over the years have come from Kingdom waters. And 530-acre Echo Lake has produced four of them, with the largest being just shy of 30 pounds. That’s remarkable for a lake of that size.”
While several Kingdom lakes do offer the best possibility of a Vermont lake trout over 20 pounds, Good says the average size tends to be smaller overall than what anglers will find in Lake Champlain.
On Lake Champlain, Good says that the 11.86-pound Walleye entry is a testament to the ongoing successes of fisheries management efforts on the lake.
Good says the department’s cutting edge walleye hatchery on Grand Isle, and the continued success of long-term sea lamprey control by the Lake Champlain Fish and Wildlife Management Cooperative (comprised of Vermont Fish & Wildlife, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service) has only help bolster Walleye and other sport fish species in the lake.
“It’s been amazing to see what anglers are catching lately on Champlain for big Walleye. The population has really been booming in the last few years, with lots of 10-pound plus fish being caught. As one of the fisheries biologists on the lake, it’s really heartening to see our hard work and long-term management efforts paying off for anglers.”