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North Carolina State Record Green Sunfish

August 29, 2008

State Record Green SunfishRALEIGH, N.C. – Another freshwater fish state record has been broken — this time by Wake County angler Sean Vanderburg, who caught a 1-pound, 14-ounce green sunfish from a private pond in Caswell County on July 27.

Vanderburg, 22, caught his fish, which measured 12 ¼ inches in length and 14 inches in girth, using a Berkley Lightning Rod, an Abu Garcia Baitcaster and a Culprit plastic worm as a lure.

Vanderburg, an avid hunter as well as fisherman, says he fishes this pond quite a bit, which is located on the same property where he hunts. He catches mostly smallish largemouth bass, and the occasional bluegill. On this particular day, he thought he had hooked a nice-size largemouth bass, maybe a 4-pounder, and was shocked to find what he thought might be a pumpkinseed — albeit a giant one — dangling on the end of the line.

“I’d never seen a sunfish that big before, so I had a little freak-out moment,” Vanderburg said. After he pulled himself together, he began calling friends to see what the state records were for all the sunfish species found in North Carolina. He then contacted Corey Oakley, a fisheries biologist with the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, to find out exactly what he had reeled in.

According to Oakley, green sunfish, which are native to western North Carolina but have been widely stocked in the Piedmont, average around 8 ounces. They rarely attain the size of Vanderburg’s catch, which Oakley characterized as a “monster.”

“This fish was so big that both Wayne Starnes, curator of fishes at the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences, and I thought that it had to be a hybrid with another sunfish, such as a bluegill,” Oakley said. “But after reviewing all the identification characteristics for a green sunfish, it was definitely the state record. We could find no evidence of hybridization with another sunfish species.”

The fish was weighed on certified scales at Paul’s Grocery in Raleigh.

The latest record-breaker easily tops the previous green sunfish state record, a 1-pound, 2-ounce fish caught by Rougemont angler John Michael Deaton from a pond on Falls of the Neuse/Butner Game Land on May 5, 2006.

To qualify for a state record, anglers must have caught the fish on a rod and reel, must have the fish weighed on a certified scale witnessed by one observer, have the fish positively identified by a qualified expert from the Commission and submit an application with a full, side-view photo of the fish.




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