Lake Havasu’s claim as one of the top lakes in the world for large sunfish was further solidified on Tuesday when Thomas Farchione of Waterford, Wisconsin hauled in another world record.
The current world record redear sunfish was also caught in Lake Havasu – back in 2014. But Farchione caught an even larger one around 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday in about 25 feet of water while fishing in California Bay – located south of the Island and about half a mile north of Copper Canyon on the California side of the lake – with a couple friends from back home in Wisconsin. Farchione said when they got the record fish to the boat, they measured it at 17-inches long and it weighed in at about 6.25 pounds on his scale.
“We put it in the live well and headed to the bait shop,” he said. “I knew the record was 5-something, so I thought, ‘We had better run this in.”
Once at Bass Tackle Master, the redear sunfish officially weighed in at 6.3 pounds on the certified scale run by the Game and Fish Department.
“We certify the weight with a couple witnesses and we submitted it to the state,” said Bass Tackle Master owner John Galbraith. “We also submitted it to the International Game Fish Association in Florida. That will give it a line class world record, a tackle world record, plus the state record for Arizona.”
Galbraith said the applications are generally approved within about 30 days, which will make the world record official.
The catch beats out the current world record of 5-pounds, 12-onces set on Feb. 16, 2014 – also on Lake Havasu. Galbraith said this is now the third time in a row that Lake Havasu has produced a new world record redear sunfish.
Although there have been sunfish in Lake Havasu for a long time, Galbraith said there have been some particularly large ones in recent years thanks to an invasive species taking up residence in the lake.
“It’s been ever since the quagga mussels got infested in here,” he said. “The sunfish eat the quagga muscle and they grow year round here. So before the quagga mussel the record was around three pounds. As soon as the quagga got in it grew to four, then five, and now we are past six (pounds).”
Farchione said it was Lake Havasu’s reputation for large sunfish that first brought him and six fishing buddies to Havasu a couple years ago, when they went out with a fishing guide. He said after that trip he decided to buy a boat so they could get out on the lake by themselves.
For the past month Farchione has been a regular on the lake, fishing with the same crew from Wisconsin – two at a time because his boat only fits three. Tuesday’s world record catch comes less than a week before they are set to head back to Wisconsin for the summer.
Farchione said his goal for the trip to Havasu this year was to catch a couple four pound sunfish, but prior to Tuesday the largest one he and his friends had hauled in was a little over three pounds.
“We haven’t caught a ton of them,” he said. “I know they are in transition to spawn now, but I know that the bigger ones are out deep so we just kind of said we were going to fish deep and hope to catch some big ones.”
Farchione said he plans to send the record sunfish to a taxidermist in Minnesota for it to be stuffed and mounted. He said they will also make a mold of the fish and make a replica of the record sunfish that they will mount for Bass Tackle Master.