Genetic testing verifies new state & potential world record black crappie

TWRA Fisheries Biologist John Hammonds, Loudon Co. Wildlife Officer Anthony Chitwood, Jam Ferguson with his record fish, and TWRA interns Austin Archer, Paul Mallicoat and Lindsey Elkins. (Image: TWRA)

The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency has received results from a genetic analysis and is verifying a new state record black crappie caught by an angler from Philadelphia, Tenn. Application for world record status will have to be submitted by the angler to the International Game Fish Association.

It’s been a long four-and-a-half weeks since Lionel “Jam” Ferguson landed the big fish from a pond near Paint Rock, Tenn. but the final results have no doubt been worth the wait. This week, TWRA received verification from Prairie Research Institute at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign that Mr. Ferguson’s fish is a pure strain black crappie without any hybrid genes and is being certified as the new state record. At the time it was caught, TWRA Fisheries Biologist John Hammonds verified the fish as a black crappie but submitted a fin clipping for genetic testing in order to rule out the minute chance of hybridization between a black and white crappie.

According to TWRA’s fisheries division, Mr. Ferguson’s black crappie weighed 5 lbs. 7.68 oz. on scales certified by the State of Tenn. Weights and Measures Division, which outweighs the former state record of 4 lbs. 4 oz. caught by Clyde Freeman in Brown’s Creek Lake in 1985. The current world record black crappie weighing an even 5 lbs. was taken from a private lake in Missouri in 2006, according to the International Game Fish Association. TWRA will, if needed, assist Mr. Ferguson with the world record application process by providing our state application, genetic analysis from Prairie Research Institute, and professional observations from our fisheries biologists. Although not part of the state record requirements, Mr. Ferguson’s fish measures 19 1/4 inches in length with a girth of 17 3/4 inches.

TWRA Fisheries Chief Frank Fiss says, “TWRA wishes to congratulate Mr. Ferguson by breaking a state record that’s been held for 33-years and looks forward to assisting him with the world record application process if needed.”

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