Oregon’s Pumpkinseed Sunfish Record Embarrassing

A recent post in one of Oregon’s largest fishing websites concerned a very large sunfish that was believed to be a pumpkinseed sunfish and was caught in a private pond and then put into a aquarium. The sunfish, if correctly identified, would easily have shattered the Oregon state record for pumpkinseed sunfish which currently is a 7.68 ounce fish caught in 1996rom Lake Oswego.

Since both the ODFW which keeps track of most of the state fish records and the Oregon Bass and Panfish Club which keeps track of the warmwater fish records state that fish from private ponds are not eligible for state record consideration, the jumbo pumpkinseed currently living in an aquarium is not eligble for state record consideration. For that matter, one has to wonder why Lake Oswego, which has restricted access to lakeshore property owners and their friends, is eligible for any state fish records.

There are slip ups. Oregon’s bluegill record came from a private pond in central Oregon and a largemouth bass from a private pond near Butte Falls held the state record for several years. But the plain fact is, no Oregon fish records should come from private waters with restricted or no access to the public.

That said, Oregon’s state record for pumpkinseed sunfish is pathetic. How pathetic? If it were not for Tennessee’s even more pathetic pumpkinseed state record of five ounces, Oregon would have the smallest state record pumpkinseed in the nation. Since I have caught many pumpkinseeds weighing six or seven ounces from Howard Prairie Reservoir and the pond formed by the confluence of the North and South Umpquas, it appears that the major reason why Oregon’s record pumpkinseed is not larger is because most anglers cannot identify them or don’t both getting the fish weighed, with witnesses, on a certified scale.

Nineteen states currently have state records for pumpkinseeds and more than half of those state records weighed between one pound and one pound nine ounces. The outlier is South Carolina whose state record pumpkinseed weighed a whopping two pounds four ounces and can boast of at least two other pumpkinseeds that weighed at least two pounds.

Since the national and world records for pumpkinseeds and warmouths is almost the same, 2 pounds 4 ounces and 2 pounds 7 ounces respectively, one has to wonder why Oregon’s state record warmouth weighs one pound 14.2 ounces – or nearly four times (3.93) heavier than Oregon’s state record pumpkinseed. On the other side of the coin, one could also wonder why Washington’s state record pumpkinseed of one pound 1.3 ounces is 2.06 times as large as its state record warmouth of 8.4 ounces.

At any rate, it is high time to replace Oregon’s embarrassing pumpkinseed sunfish record and when it is replaced – let’s hope it is replaced by a pure pumpkinseed and not a hybrid.

Pumpkinseed sunfish (Lepomis gibbosus)

Pumpkinseed sunfish (Lepomis gibbosus)

About Pete Heley

Writes and self-publishes Oregon and Washington fishing books.
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