More anglers, more state record fish Original

PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — Geno Adams is gearing up for another record-breaking summer. 

The Fisheries Program Administrator for the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Department supervises fish biologists around the state. He’s also tasked with approving state record fish and keeping state fishing records. 

“In general, when fishing activity peaks in June and July that’s when we see a majority of our state record requests come in,” Adams said. “It’s starting now.” 

Three years ago, Adams helped lead a GFP effort to compile a digital database of state record fish. You can see all of the state record fish on the GFP’s website under the fish tab listed as state records.

A snapshot of the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Department state record fish website.

“Most of our state records weren’t available,” Adams said, who started as a biologist with the GFP in 2006. “We have this database now. It’s a neat interactive deal for people.” 

State fish records are now categorized in three methods — hook and line records, bowfishing records and unrestricted (any other legal means other than hook and line or bowfishing). 

In the past two years, there’s been 15 new records entered in the hook and line category and six in the bowfishing category. 

Anyone who catches a fish they think would be considered as a state record needs to have the fish weighed on a certified scale — most grocery stores and meat lockers have them, Adams said.  

“The two main things are to have it identified professionally and verified. Then weighed on a certified scale,” Adams said.  

There’s also a state record fish application that needs to be filled out and signed by owners of the certified scale, witness information and other details. Two witnesses other than the angler must be present during the weighing process or one GFP or law enforcement employee must be present.

When the paperwork is verified through Adams and his office, a certificate is printed and given to the angler of the record fish. Adams’ office has been busy as fishing experienced a boom during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“We had a lot of angling effort out there and that translated into a lot of state record fish,” Adams said. “That was something people could definitely do during the pandemic and they did. People went fishing in great numbers.” 

Conditions for all species of fish received a boost from a very wet 2019. 

“We have some pretty darn good fisheries right now too with the water we had in the last few years,” Adams said. “Fish love water. I say that all the time and it sounds crazy to say, but fish love water and we have lots of water, the fish do well.” 

There are 65 fish species eligible for state records. For trophy fish that don’t set state records, the GFP offers a South Dakota Proud Angler program. It’s also a program for anglers who prefer to practice catch and release with trophy fish. 

Adams said both programs help showcase South Dakota fishing. 

“This is a great way to do it,” Adams said. “There are a lot of really quality fishing opportunities for a lot of different types of fishing too.”

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