An Ohio angler caught a truly giant smallmouth bass last fall. In November, father-son duo Gregg and Grant Gallagher decided to hit Lake Erie in search of a 7-pound smallie. They ended up boating the biggest smallmouth bass ever caught in one of the Great Lakes.
“On November 3, my son Grant and I, both teachers, woke up with a surprise day off due to fog. The flat, calm conditions were the perfect situation for our Bass Cat boat to travel wherever we desired on the western end of Lake Erie,” Gregg wrote in a Facebook post. “For many years, my son and I primarily chased the local popular species of walleye. Looking for something different, we spent several years trying a variety of techniques to catch walleye by casting and jigging and not with the preferred trolling methods. This eventually led us to spend more and more time specifically targeting bass.”
Gregg credits Grant for using scouting and graphing to fine-tune their approach—and it paid off. They found an unpressured spot on Lake Erie and marked an abundance of baitfish and several smallmouths on their livescope fish finder. With the live imaging technology, they were able to target fish individually. It worked.
“On what turned out to be the most memorable cast of my life, my bait got hit before it even hit the bottom, and my rod quickly doubled over,” says Gregg. “I honestly thought I had hooked into a sheepshead and not a smallmouth. We quickly learned we had just caught the smallmouth of a lifetime. After [getting] a quick weight in the boat, we knew the fish was approaching at least 9 pounds.”
The duo recorded a video of the catch that they shared in a Bigwater Fishing YouTube video. “Oh my gosh!” shouts Grant after netting his father’s fish. “Dad, what did you just catch?” See the epic moment for yourself below.
After boating the trophy bass, they contacted their buddy Ross Robertson of Bigwater Fishing, who helped them get a certified weight on the fish. It came in at a whopping 10.15 pounds—even bigger than the duo originally thought. The fish was 23 ¾ long, with a girth of 19 3/8 inches.
In a March 17, 2023 press release, the Ohio Division of Wildlife (ODW) announced that the fish had been confirmed as the new Ontario Province record smallmouth bass. It topped a 9.84-pounder that was caught by Andy Anderson in 1954. “Fish management staff routinely survey smallmouth bass in Lake Erie to aid in population monitoring. Smallmouth bass captured in these surveys are typically less than 20 inches and weigh fewer than 7 pounds. The bass caught by Gallagher surpassed the size of all surveyed fish,” explained the ODW. “The record fish is the only known 10-pound smallmouth bass caught in a Great Lakes state or province.”
ODW biologists also used the fish’s otoliths to age it. The agency says that the fish was 16 years old when Gregg caught it. It’s rare for a wild smallmouth to live for more than 14 years. According to Wired2Fish.com, the bass is also considered the fourth-biggest smallie ever caught anywhere.
“I think the video of both of us screaming like school girls over what ended up being the largest documented smallmouth ever caught on the Great Lakes says it all,” says Gregg. “The ability to do it with my son who has become the captain of the boat and a much better fisherman than me made it even more special.”