Tuscaloosa County Yields Two New Record Fish
New Alabama freshwater fish records were recently set for the rainbow trout and the skipjack herring. Both fish were caught in Tuscaloosa County.
Otha G. Hamm of Alexandria caught a 9-pound, 1-ounce rainbow trout from Mud Creek in Tannehill State Park on April 22, 2006. The previous rainbow trout record was a 7-pound, 4-ounce fish caught in 2004.
Shawn A. Melvin of Tuscaloosa caught a 2-pound, 14-ounce skipjack herring from below Oliver Lock and Dam in Tuscaloosa County on March 17, 2006. The previous record fish, caught in 2005, weighed 1 pound, 7 ounces.
The rainbow trout occurs naturally in Pacific Coast drainages from Alaska to northwestern Mexico. It has been stocked extensively worldwide, and in North America it now occurs throughout Canada, the Great Lakes region, the Appalachians, the Ozarks, and central Mexico. In Alabama, rainbow trout are stocked in spring-fed Mud Creek in Tannehill State Park through a cooperative agreement between the park and the Buffalo Rock Company. Rainbows from the Dale Hollow National Fish Hatchery in Tennessee are stocked in cold tailwaters below Lake Lewis Smith Dam. Occasionally, rainbow trout are caught in the Little River in DeKalb and Cherokee counties from stockings in Georgia.
“Alabama’s major rivers and streams are considered warm water systems, which greatly limits potential trout stocking waters. Deep water hydropower discharges, cold water springs or utilizing selected public water sites in the winter offer few successful stocking sites,” said Fisheries Section Chief Stan Cook.
Skipjack herring are often found in or near the swiftest waters. Herring have a streamlined shape and deeply forked tail typical of fish that rely on speed in open water. Skipjack herring often attack fast, flashy lures. Anglers enjoy catching skipjack herring, as they frequently jump during the fight. The shape and coloration of the jaw of the skipjack herring are keys to distinguishing this fish from other members of the herring family. The lower jaws of skipjack herring protrude considerably in front of its upper jaws, and the edges of the jaws are completely pigmented. The jaws have an upward slant allowing skipjack herring to better feed upwards in the water column.
To be considered for the Alabama state freshwater record, a fish must be legally caught on pole and line or rod and reel and weighed on certified scales. An approved fisheries biologist must verify the correct species and weight, so the fish must be available in a fresh or frozen state. An official application with a photograph must be submitted to the Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries.
For complete information on how to certify a record fish or to view a complete listing of Alabama record fish, visit the Alabama Department of Conservation’s web site at www.outdooralabama.com/fishing/freshwater/record.
Otha G. Hamm, left, and Fisheries Biologist Maurice Jackson with Hamm's record rainbow trout.