The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency has confirmed a pair of state fishing records, one for a recently caught Alabama bass and another for a spotted bass caught three years ago.
The TWRA’s State Record Fish Program previously had considered each of the varieties to be subspecies of spotted bass and grouped both into the same category. The Alabama variety grows larger, so it held the record.
Recently, the Alabama bass was elevated to species status, so the TWRA will now recognize the Alabama bass in the State Record Fish Program.
As a result of these changes, an Alabama bass caught by Shane McKee, of Cleveland, Tenn., will be the new record Alabama bass. The spotted bass landed by Chris Coleman, of Soddy Daisy, will be instated as the record spotted bass.
TWRA biologists had collected genetic samples from all bass that were contenders for the state record. As a result, TWRA staff members were able to confirm Coleman’s bass was a pure spotted bass.
“While these bass species are slightly different in appearance, genetic testing is required to positively identify them,” said Frank Fiss, TWRA Assistant Chief of Fisheries.
Coleman caught what is now his state record fish on Feb. 22, 2011 on Chickamauga Lake in Hamilton County. The spotted bass came in at 6 pounds, 1.4 ounces and was 21 inches long. The catch came at 3 p.m. and he was using jerk bait on 10-pound test line.
McKee makes history as the first person to be named as a state record holder for the Alabama bass category. He made his catch on Parksville Lake in Polk County on March 10. The bass weighed 6 pounds, 15.5 ounces and was 23 inches in length. McKee was also using jerk bait on 15-pound test line and made his catch shortly after 3 p.m.
Alabama bass were illegally introduced into Parksville Reservoir. They have out-competed the largemouth bass in this lake. In an attempt to recover the largemouth bass population, the fishing regulations encourage anglers to remove spotted bass, now including the Alabama bass, with no creel limits.
The criteria to be considered for a state record fish along with instructions and state records are in the 2014-15 TWRA Tennessee Fishing Guide. Information is also available at www.tnwildlife.org.