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Monday, December 5, 2022

Minnesota angler ties state record with huge sunfish

Aaron Ardoff of Spicer travels to the waterways of Kandiyohi County in search of the big sunfish that he and his brothers like pursuing because of the thrill of the chase.

However, he admitted that when he caught the sunfish that made him famous, he was largely “messing around,” casting a black and orange spinnerbait into the waters of Green Lake for the enjoyment of tangles with bass or northern pike.

The 1-pound, 12-ounce hybrid sunfish that Ardoff captured on September 19, 2022, in Green Lake in Kandiyohi County ties the state record based on weight, according to a report released on Monday by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. The previous record was held solely by a hybrid sunfish that was taken in the Middle Branch of the Zumbro River in 1994.

On a beautiful Sunday day, Ardoff, his brother, and a close buddy made the decision to go fishing. Ardoff stated, “(We were) wasting time. Better, in my opinion, than watching the Vikings that week.

Ardoff reported capturing the record fish to the DNR, saying, “As soon as I started reeling, I could tell this wasn’t fighting like a pike or bass.” “I panicked when I realized the fish was a sunfish as it drew nearer. I repeatedly reminded myself to just get it in rather than lose my mind.

After bringing the fish in, Ardoff claims he revealed his anxiety to his fellow fishermen. He stopped fishing for the day because he thought it may be a record. Green sunfish are normally considerably smaller than the much more common bluegill and pumpkinseed sunfish, so at first he though it may be one of them.

He was aware that the 1 pound, 3 ounce state record for a green sunfish would be broken by this massive beast. He emailed a picture of his catch to Spicer, Texas, DNR fisheries supervisor Dave Coahran, who promptly destroyed the fantasy.

The fish was a hybrid sunfish, according to Coahran, which typically results from the mating of a male bluegill and a female green sunfish.

However, the fisheries manager also let him know that based on the image, he could have a record hybrid sunfish. They made plans to meet that day at Mel’s Sports in Spicer at 5:30 p.m. to formally weigh and measure the fish.

Ardoff found it “exciting” to discover that his fish has officially been approved for the record books.

This is by no means Ardoff’s first significant sunfish capture. He claimed that he and his brothers had between 20 and 30 distinct replicas of large bluegills that they have captured throughout the years.

He spent a lot of his summers as a child at his grandparents’ property on Long Lake in Hawick, where his love for catching sunfish first began. He claimed that after landing a huge bluegill, he was hooked for good.

The excitement of searching for the big one is now the focus. He estimates that he fished 24 different lakes last winter in search of large sunfish. He works as an estimator for Double J Masonry and Concrete in Willmar, therefore the hardwater season, when he has the most leisure, is when he fishes best.

According to Ardoff, the seas around Sunburg are his favorites. The best chances of discovering the large ones are in the smaller bodies of water that don’t receive much fishing pressure.

While Ardoff may bring home some of his smaller sunfish to clean and distribute to friends, it is his desire to win the trophy that drives him more than the desire to provide food for the table. With one exception, he and his siblings, according to him, never maintain a sunfish longer than 912 inches.

This one is an anomaly; Ardoff had a mold created of the record keeper at Lake Country Replicas in rural Hawick.

The record fish’s age is unknown. According to Coahran, the development rates of the male bluegill and female green sunfish hybrids are influenced by a phenomenon known as “hybrid vigor.” He said that the hybrid kids do not show the same growth.

The fisheries manager claimed that on sometimes, fishermen who think they had caught a record sunfish phone him. Anglers on the waters of Green Lake, Nest Lake, or Long Lake near Willmar make the majority of the calls.

Coahran has spotted several beautiful sunfish in these waters, but he frequently has to dash the eager fisherman’ dreams. Coahran hasn’t seen a bluegill come close to the state record, which weighs 2 pounds, 13 ounces and was set in 1948.

If he does, it could just end up in Ardoff’s hands. His enthusiasm for seeking large sunfish has only been heightened by his capture of this record holder.

He will undoubtedly continue to hunt extensively in nearby waterways. Numerous local lakes, according to him, are home to potential prize fish. People don’t know how many high-quality fish there are until they go for them, according to Ardoff.

When asked how he got this prize, he replied immediately, “In the mouth.” He won’t say anything further about his location on Green Lake that day.

Coahran stated that the news that Green Lake had given up a record-breaker did not surprise him. The lake is home to some pretty fine sunfish, and Ardoff is by no means the only angler who has discovered this.

The second fish to break records in Green Lake is this one.

At the Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame in Hayward, Wisconsin, Spicer resident Rick Scalzo established a world record for the largest channel catfish ever captured through ice. On Green Lake in 2000, he caught a 36-pound, 42-inch channel catfish with a 23-inch girth.

Cedric Blackwater
Cedric Blackwater
Cedric is a journalist with over a decade of experience reporting on local US news, and touching on many global topics. He is currently the lead writer for Bulletin News.

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