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January 29, 2004
A Titusville man jigging for walleye on the Allegheny River got an unexpected early Christmas present when he instead landed a new state record sucker.

Raymond C. Szalewicz with the PA state record sucker - click for larger imageRaymond Szalewicz was fishing a familiar spot in the river near West Hickory, Forest County, on December 13 at a location where he had previously landed a number of nice walleye, including a 30-incher.  Casting a black jig in the direction of some woody debris, he was letting the lure settle toward the bottom when he  felt a telltale bump and his line began to move upstream.

"I immediately assumed it was a walleye and I knew it was heavier than the big one I caught there before at the same spot, but even by walleye standards it did not fight much.  It just held fast in the current heading upstream," Szalewicz said.  He soon turned the fish and "when it rolled, I saw its belly the first time. I still thought it was a walleye.  It came in easily, but its weight and the current made it very difficult to maneuver it to the collapsible net I carry."

Soon he realized the fish was a sucker, but not just any sucker.  After he measured it in the net, he began to suspect that he might have a special catch.  A weighing on a certified scale confirmed it: at 12 lbs, 14.4 oz, it was the largest fish of its kind on record in Pennsylvania. The previous record sucker was caught in 1995 by Troy A. Bemis of Endeavor. It weighed 12 lb. 9 oz., and was also from the Allegheny River in Forest County.

Pennsylvania certifies state records based on total body weight. Potential record fish must exceed the established mark by at least one ounce, as weighed on a certified scale. To be considered for state record certification, a fish must be caught using legal means, in season, from Pennsylvania waters open to the public without charge or fee. Fish taken from farm ponds, fee-fishing lakes, ponds or streams or in waters restricted to use by club members or their guests do not qualify. A biologist or Waterways Conservation Officer from the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) must examine the fish. The PFBC is the only entity that can certify an official state record fish in the Commonwealth.

31 inch state record sucker - click for larger image


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