The state Fish and Boat Commission has certified a lake trout caught by Todd Young of Nazareth, Pa., has set a new state record for that species.
Young caught the trout while fishing Lake Erie on May 6, aboard the charter boat Eyecon II. It weighed 29 pounds, 4 ounces.
Young's catch exceeds the previous record by 1 pound, 7 ounces. The prior record was 27 pounds, 13 ounces and was caught in 1996 by Tom Illar Jr., of Apollo, also in Lake Erie.
The trip aboard the Eyecon II was a graduation present from Young's dad and his fishing buddies. He recently graduated from Clarion University.
The fish took a Northern King spoon, trolled about three miles offshore from Harbor Creek.
Additional study of the fish proved it has an impressive pedigree. Published photographs of the lake trout gave biologists from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Allegheny National Fish Hatchery a clue that the fish may have been raised and stocked by the hatchery several years ago.
Prior to stocking, wire tags are inserted into the snout of each fingerling and the adipose fin is removed. Photographs of Young's fish published in several newspapers clearly showed the adipose fin was missing.
Commission biologists found a wire tag during additional examination of the fish, confirming that the fish was indeed spawned and raised at the hatchery.
Lake trout are raised and stocked by the Allegheny National Fish Hatchery as part of the lake trout restoration program, a partnership of 16 state, provincial and federal agencies working together to restore the environmental health and productivity of the Great Lakes.
The current New York state record lake trout, caught in 2003, also was stocked as a fingerling as part of this effort.
The Fish and Boat Commission certifies state records based on total body weight. Potential record fish must exceed the established mark for that category by at least 2 ounces, as weighed on a certified scale. To be considered for state record certification, a fish must be caught using legal means, in season, from Pennsylvania waters open to the public, and without charge or fee. Fish taken from farm ponds, fee-fishing lakes, ponds or streams or in waters restricted to use by club members or their guests do not qualify.
Staff from the agency must examine the fish.