As 2022 comes to a close, most within the fishing community expected that the year may be remembered for the walleye tournament cheating scandal. This was as sure to a guarantee as one could imagine if we were discussing “top Lake Erie fishing news stories in 2022.”
That said, an angler and his son have punctuated a crazy fishing year with arguably the most significant bass catch of 2022. Considering the wave of massive fish caught in Texas earlier this year – including the largest Lonestar bass caught in thirty years and the world record hybrid “meanmouth” bass –that says something!
Gregg Gallagher and his son Grant, both school teachers, shared a rare day off Friday. Gregg noted on Ross Robertson’s Bigwater Fishing (video in link) YouTube channel that he had a slow start on the water. After Grant urged him to switch up his technique, however, he quickly connected with a double-digit smallmouth.
The interview also includes Travis Hartman of the Ohio Division of Natural Resources. Hartman noted that Gallagher’s smallmouth, which weighed in at 10.15 pounds, is the largest Great Lakes smallie on record. It is still shy of the current smallmouth world record, an 11 pound, 15 ounce mammoth caught on Dale Hollow Lake by David L. Hayes in 1955.
Upon official certification, Gregg Gallagher’s fish will be the new Ontario Province record.
Below are Gregg Gallagher’s words, recounted from the “official press release” shared on Grant Gallagher’s Facebook page on Saturday, 11/5.
“On Nov 3rd my son Grant and I, both teachers, woke up with a surprise day off due to fog. The flat calm conditions were the perfect situation for our Bass Cat boat to travel wherever we desired on the Western end of Lake Erie. The goal was to catch a giant smallmouth bass 7lbs or better.
For many years my son and I primarily chased the local popular species of walleye. Looking for something different we spent several years trying a variety of techniques to catch walleye by casting and jigging and not with the preferred trolling methods. This eventually gravitated us to spend more and more time specifically targeting bass. This desire grew even greater when Grant spent four years on the Adrian College Bass team.
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. 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 was able to individually target these pelagic smallmouth.
On what turned out to be the most memorable cast of my life, my bait got hit before it even hit the bottom and my rod quickly doubled over, I honestly thought I had hooked into a sheep head and not a smallmouth. We quickly learned we had just caught the smallmouth of a lifetime. After a quick weight in the boat, we knew the fish was approaching at least 9lbs and we immediately started to think of what we needed to do if it was. With a few phone calls and a great amount of help from lifelong friend Ross Robertson @bigwaterfishing, we needed to get the weight verified on an official scale. After a few more phone calls we were able to meet Travis Hartman (Lake Erie Fisheries Program Administrator for the Ohio DNR) and take the proper steps to apply for the record.
Once the legalities and paperwork are finished, it will be the new Ontario Province record smallmouth bass, breaking a 68 year record. I think the video of both of us screaming like school girls over what ended up being the largest documented smallmouth ever caught on the Great Lakes says it all. The ability to do it with my son who has become the Captain of the boat and a much better fisherman than me, made it even more special. When it was all said and done the official weight was 10.15lbs and measured 23 ¾ x19 3/8. A huge thank you goes out to Crown Battery, St. Bonore Financial Services and Clemons Boats/Bass Cat for allowing my son and me to hunt these giant smallmouths prowling the Great Lakes.”
Congratulations to Gregg on catching an absolutely remarkable fish!