A largemouth bass pulled from Lake Elmo in Billings Heights on Saturday is big enough to be a new state record.
The 9.575-pound fish tops the previous record of 8.8 pounds that was caught in Noxon Rapids Reservoir by Darin Williams in 2009.
Brandon Wright caught the 22.5-inch-long fish Saturday morning while angling from shore with a worm on a hook and 6-pound test line. He officially confirmed the fish’s species, weight and length by contacting Fish, Wildlife & Parks officials and weighing it on a certified scale at Alberstons grocery in Billings Heights.
Wright, who has lived in Billings for about four years, said he usually likes to fly fish, but decided Saturday to fish at Lake Elmo. He arrived at the lake a little after 10 a.m. and tipped a size 10 Eagle Claw hook with a piece of night crawler. Then, Wright said, he sat back and started watching Tik Tok videos on his cell phone. Within 15 minutes the big fish took his bait and he was able to reel it ashore.
It was the first largemouth bass that Wright has caught. He plans to have it mounted by a taxidermist.
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The last remaining step to declaring the largemouth bass a state record is a signature from the FWP fisheries division chief in Helena. FWP officials in Billings said the paperwork was in the mail to Helena on Monday.
It has been a busy winter and spring for state fisheries recordkeepers. Other recent records included a chinook salmon in August, a smallmouth bass in October, a yellow bullhead in December, a brown trout in February and a longnose sucker in March.
People who think they have caught a Montana record fish should keep the fish fresh on ice but not frozen, document the length and girth with photos, contact FWP at the first opportunity for positive species identification, have the fish weighed on a certified scale and keep the certificate from the scale or an affidavit from the scale owner.