Surprise catch

Surprise catch

If you enjoy fishing in the Buckeye State, that next tug on your line just might be a new record fish. Take your pick from the 2.25 million acres of Ohio-owned Lake Erie on the north to the 451 miles of the Ohio River along our southern border and the 7,000 miles of rivers and streams in between — plus more than 200 inland lakes. State-record fish have been caught from them all.  

Or, you could just walk across the road to the family’s farm pond and catch a new state record. That’s what 9-year-old SueAnn Newswanger of Richland County did a couple of years ago when she caught the current state-record green sunfish, still the most recently reeled-in of all of Ohio’s state-record fish. “I knew it was a new record as soon as I caught it,” she says.

Chip Gross awards plaque

Chip Gross, Ohio Cooperative Living’s outdoors editor and a member of Outdoor Writers of Ohio, awards Sue Ann Newswanger a plaque honoring her state-record catch.

Her father, Galen, explains. “We had gone fishing a few days previously, and SueAnn caught a very large green sunfish that we released,” he says. “That got me thinking as to what the state record might be for that species, so I looked it up and told her that we had likely released a state-record fish.”
The Newswangers were fishing again a few days later in the same area of the same pond when Galen heard his daughter squeal with delight, “Daddy, I caught it again!”  

Sure enough, SueAnn had hooked the same huge green sunfish — or possibly another of similar size — but this time they didn’t release it. They had the fish weighed on certified scales (1.2 pounds), the whopper measuring 11 inches in length and 10.5 inches in girth. Galen then had a professional taxidermist mount the fish for his young daughter. By the way, SueAnn caught her record green sunfish using a simple spincast rod and reel with a worm on a hook.  

The official list of state-record fish is kept by the Outdoor Writers of Ohio (OWO). Forty-seven species are recognized: 42 for hook and line, and five for bowfishing. 

“Over some 70 years of maintaining records, it’s difficult to say who is the all-time youngest Ohio state-record holder,” says Fred Snyder, chairman of the OWO Record Fish Committee. “But SueAnn has to be one of the youngest, if not the youngest of all.”