Lake Erie Angler Catches 10-Pound Smallmouth Bass, Largest Ever on the Great Lakes

by Caitlin Berard
(Photo by stammphoto via Getty Images)

It was a regular Thursday morning in October and Gregg Gallagher, a teacher in Ohio, woke up bright and early for another day at school. To his surprise, however, the fog outside was so thick that school buses were unable to transport children safely, giving him an unexpected day off.

An avid fisherman, Gregg knew exactly what he wanted to do with his extra free time. He called up his son Grant, a fellow school teacher, and asked if he wanted to spend the day on Lake Erie. Though oftentimes treacherous, the mammoth lake was calm and flat, offering the father-son duo the perfect conditions for smallmouth bass fishing.

Wasting no time, the men set out for the lake with one goal in mind: to catch a giant smallmouth bass. The Gallaghers decided a seven-pounder was their baseline, but the heavier, the better.

The younger Gallagher has spent countless hours scouting, graphing, and fine-tuning their fishing techniques, and on November 3, his hard work finally paid off. The duo found a spot rife with fish, untouched by their fellow bass-seekers.

Not only was the area filled with baitfish but the bottom content was unlike anything they’d ever seen. As they dropped their forward-facing sonar into the depths, the pair knew they were in for an interesting day. What they didn’t know, however, is that they were about to shatter the record for not just Lake Erie but all five Great Lakes.

Father-Son Duo Reel in Record-Breaking Smallmouth Bass

Confident in their calculations and endless research, Gregg Gallagher dropped his line in the water. Before his bait even reached the floor of Lake Erie, he felt an almighty tug on his rod. “My rod doubled over,” he explained in a video outlining the catch. “I honestly thought I had hooked into a sheepshead.”

As he heaved his catch up and into the boat, however, he realized what he had hooked was far more exciting. It was a massive smallmouth bass – and though they couldn’t be sure, it appeared to far exceed their original seven-pound goal. The Gallaghers immediately contacted Ohio DNR, who set up a certified scale to get the gargantuan fish’s official measurements.

To the shock and amazement of everyone present, the smallmouth bass weighed 10.15 pounds. It had a 23.75-inch length and a 19.37-inch girth, making the mighty smallmouth the largest ever caught on the Great Lakes. In fact, it’s now the only smallmouth bass exceeding 10 pounds ever found in the Lakes’ mysterious waters.

“Once the paperwork is finished, it will be the new Ontario Province record smallmouth bass, breaking a 68-year record,” Gallagher explained. “I think the video of both of us screaming like school girls says it all. 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.”