TWRA confirms 'likely' state and world record black crappie

They must wait for a DNA analysis before making it official, but TWRA officials say a black crappie Jam Ferguson caught in a Loudon County pond on Tuesday will "likely" become a new state AND world record. (Photo: Contributed)

Pending results from DNA testing, an angler from Philadelphia, Tenn. will own the state and world record for a black crappie, breaking a state record that’s been held for 33 years.

On Tuesday, May 15, Lionel Ferguson, better known as “Jam,” went to a pond in Loudon County to cast a line. Before sunset, he had landed a black crappie that eclipses the old state record by a more than a pound. And to boot, Ferguson likely caught the state record black crappie from the same pond last summer but that fish ended up in the skillet. Fortunately for Ferguson, this fish avoided the same fate and according to TWRA officials, appears to be a new state and world record.

Ferguson’s black crappie weighs 5 lbs. 7.68 oz. outweighing the current 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.

After catching the historic fish, the son of the pond owner contacted Loudon County Wildlife Officer Anthony Chitwood who sent Ferguson to a few local places in an attempt to get the fish weighed on certified scales. Unfortunately, he met a few dead ends but Officer Chitwood was able to meet Ferguson later that night at a boat ramp to have the fish weighed on scales used by a local bass tournament. Realizing the fish was very likely a new state record and possible world record, Ferguson had the fish weighed on certified scales and it has been given an official weight of 5 lbs. 7.68 oz.

The following day, TWRA Fisheries Biologist John Hammonds visually inspected the fish and verified it as a black crappie. In order to rule out the very minute chance of it being a hybrid between a black and white crappie, Hammonds took a fin clipping that is being sent off for DNA testing, which will take a few weeks.

Ferguson, a very humble man, wishes to give credit to God for the catch saying, “Prayers go up and blessings come down.”

He is also very grateful to the property owner for allowing him to fish and wishes to not make the owner’s name or pond location public out of respect. He also says that the fish is in the hands of a taxidermist and he’s already excited about casting another line.

A full-length feature story will appear in a future issue of the Tennessee Wildlife Magazine.