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
The latest record-breaker easily tops the previous green sunfish
state record, a
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.