HARRISBURG, Pa. (May 7) – The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) is pleased to announce a new state record Yellow Perch!
On the afternoon of April 9, 2021, angler Kirk Rudzinski, 63, of Erie, departed the East Avenue Boat Launch along with friend Sam Troup, 62, also of Erie, to enjoy a few hours of fishing on Lake Erie. The friends traveled four to five miles east to the area of the Sunoco Cribs where they anchored in sight of the high-rise building at the Brevillier Village community.
Rudzinski was targeting Yellow Perch using live emerald shiners as bait on a casting rod fitted with 10-pound test braided line with an 8-pound monofilament leader and a pair of size 4 hooks.
"We had been catching them pretty good throughout the afternoon, but then the school of fish moved and so did we," said Rudzinski. "We pulled anchor and moved about a hundred yards east where there were some other boats and we started to mark fish again. We noticed there was a really strong current on the bottom of the lake that day, so we had to cast into the current."
The technique seemed to work, and at approximately 7:21 p.m., Rudzinski felt the bite of a lifetime.
"When I felt the pull, I thought for sure that I had a double," recalled Rudzinski. "My drag was set pretty loose and as I was reeling, the fish was taking some line. As it got closer the boat, I realized that it was a single fish and I told Sam he'd better grab the net!"
Rudzinski says the large perch was securely hooked in the upper lip, and after a two-minute fight, Troup netted the fish and brought it aboard the boat. Rudzinski says he knew right away the fish was the largest he'd ever caught.
"Oh, my gosh! This has to be a state record," Rudzinski recalls saying at the time of the catch. "I've been fishing on Lake Erie for 45 years and I just love fishing for Yellow Perch, so I've seen a lot of them. Then I saw a few eggs start to drop out of the fish, and I worried that if it was a potential state record, it was going to be losing weight quickly."
Rudzinski says a scale aboard his boat malfunctioned, so he didn't immediately know the true weight of the fish. While he considered ending the fishing trip immediately to take the fish to a certified scale, he and Troup decided to put the fish on ice while they continued to fish until sunset. At approximately 9:15 p.m., Rudzinski and Troup arrived at East End Angler, a bait and tackle shop owned by Rudzinski, which also has a certified scale.
The scale weight of the Yellow Perch was 2.98lbs. In accordance with PFBC State Record Fish Application Rules, the weight is rounded up to the nearest ounce, making the weight 3 pounds., 0 ounces, exceeding the current state record by two ounces. The length of the fish was 16 7/8 inches, with a girth of 14 inches. State record fish are judged only by weight and must exceed the previous state record by at least two ounces. The previous state record Yellow Perch caught in Presque Isle Bay in 2016 weighed 2 pounds, 14 ounces and was also caught by an angler from Erie County.
Rudzinsky kept the fish on ice until the following day, when PFBC Waterways Conservation Officer Matthew Visosky arrived at East End Angler to verify the species, weight, and review photographs that were taken throughout the initial weigh-in. In addition to a witnessed weigh-in and PFBC in-person inspection, Rudzinski completed an official state record fish application including color photographs, which was reviewed by PFBC Fisheries and Law Enforcement officials and confirmed.
"It's a thrill to know that there are big fish like this out there," said Rudzinski. "Walleye fishing has been world-class on Lake Erie for several years now, but the Yellow Perch fishing has been a challenge. We're in a bit of a decline. It's not only a thrill to have this record, but this big fish is a really positive sign of good things to come."
Rudzinski plans to have the State Record Yellow Perch commemorated through taxidermy and will display the mount at East End Angler for the enjoyment of others.
A list of current Pennsylvania State Record Fish, official rules and application can be found at www.fishandboat.com.