In the Southeastern US, the word “bream” tends to be a catchall term applied to any number of sunfish with such varied monikers as “bluegill,” “sun perch,” “shellcrackers,” “warmouth” and, my favorite, “stump knockers.”
These are what one catches when taking kids fishing from the shore or a dock, using crickets or worms as bait. And a fish that weighs three-quarters of a pound is not only good size and puts up a nice fight, it’s excellent eating.
The upper end size-wise for bream is typically 12 inches in length and 2 pounds in weight.
All of which makes Hector Brito’s accomplishment even more amazing.
On Feb. 16, Brito, using a live nightcrawler for bait, landed a 5-pound, 12-ounce shellcracker, also known as a redear sunfish, while fishing in Arizona’s Lake Havasu. Brito’s fish, which appears to be a world record, was 17 inches long, and nearly as wide.
“(He) said he thought it was a catfish,” said John Galbraith, who weighed the fish on a certified scale.
The previous record was a 5.55-pound fish caught by Bob Lawler in 2011, according to the Outdoor Hub.
While Brito’s catch is certainly an Arizona state record, Brito must now wait for his fish to be confirmed as the world’s largest by the International Game Fish Association in Dania Beach, Fla.
Details of Brito’s fish – caught on 6-pound-test line – have been sent to the IGFA.
Lake Havasu has only recently become known for its large panfish, thanks to the accidental introduction of quagga mussels, according to the Augusta Journal.
“The mussels entered the lower Colorado River system in 2007 and have since spread to Lake Powell,” said Russ Engel, a spokesman for the Arizona Fish and Game Department.
“Not only did we notice a significant increase in redear (sunfish) weights, but our largemouth and smallmouth bass have gone crazy over them, too,” he added. “In a recent bass tournament, the winning five-fish catch totaled 28 pounds.”
Brito’s fish is the size of small dinner platter, the result of a steady mussel diet.
(Top: Hector Brito with his giant shellcracker, caught at Lake Havasu, Az.)