Josh Chrenko is no stranger to smallmouth bass. In fact, many readers might recognize Josh as one of the hosts (alongside Chris Vaughan) of the popular Smallie Talk podcast.
For an angler who has fished for smallies from Minnesota to Virginia, the truly “elusive” fish Chrenko has been chasing – what he considers his “holy grail” fish – is a 23-inch smallmouth caught in a river.
While the Quest for 23 remains Chrenko’s ultimate smallmouth goal, he recently garnered some attention after landing a fish that may be just as rare.
Landing a “Golden” Smallmouth Bass
While fishing on the Muskegon River near Newaygo, Michigan, Chrenko hooked up with a fish that is, statistically, among the rarest in the country.
After his catch, Chrenko spoke with a friend who is an ecologist for the State of Indiana and found out that the “golden” hue of the smallmouth bass is due to a condition known as Xanthochromism (or “Xanthism”), causing the fish to carry an abnormally yellowish pigmentation. He also learned that the majority of fish with this condition are caught on Muskegon.
“There must be something in the gene pool,” Chrenko noted.
In the case of a smallmouth with xanthochromism, the usual red hues are replaced with the yellow hues, giving the fish a “golden” coloration.
“This Fish Had to be Resilient”
After producing more than one hundred episodes of Smallie Talk and traveling across a quarter of the nation searching for smallmouth, Chrenko has seen plenty of specimens. That said, despite his experience, his golden smallmouth was completely unexpected.
“I’m well connected in the smallmouth community and never saw anything quite like this,” Chrenko said.
Another friend (who is a fish biologist) informed Chrenko that “in nature, there’s about a 1-in-10,000 chance of even being born” with xanthochromism.
Considering the fact that this was a mature fish, Chrenko was especially impressed.
“This fish had to be resilient,” he noted, suggesting that it has stood out for years among fellow “black” bass that are known for their earthy tones, thus making it a prime candidate for predators.
What made the catch especially memorable for Chrenko, however, is the fact that he fishes almost exclusively for smallmouth and now, has caught one of the rarest specimens found within that species.