A kayak angler proudly displays the state-record crappie caught in Colorado. Eric Allee proudly showcases the new state-record black crappie he landed in November. Photograph by Eric Allee

Colorado may not be the first place that comes to mind when thinking about big crappies, but Eric Allee is challenging that perception with a colossal black crappie catch that shattered the state record a few months ago.

On November 12, Allee was kayak fishing for bass on an undisclosed lake in Adams County, just east of Denver. Preferring not to disclose the lake’s name to mitigate added fishing pressure, Allee utilized forward-facing sonar to identify a potential crappie hotspot in the lake, deploying an artificial lure accordingly.

“Late morning, after landing a 2.5-pound bass, my sonar revealed three fish near a deep sunken brush pile in 14 feet of water,” Allee recounts to Outdoor Life. “Assuming they were crappies, I approached in my kayak to present a small finesse lure.”

Allee opted for a 3.6-inch black Berkley Flat Worm, adorned with a petite 1/32-ounce tungsten nail weight and secured on a 3/0 Eagle Claw Trokar Hook. As the marketing director for Eagle Claw Tackle in Denver, Allee deems this setup ideal for his finesse technique known as “hover rig” fishing – a method involving vertically jigging soft plastic lures.

“It’s a lethal tactic, demanding patience and concentration,” Allee explains. “The fish didn’t strike immediately. I observed them on my Active Target sonar for two minutes before one took the bait. I can’t confirm if the crappie that bit was the largest of the three.”

Armed with a 7-foot spinning rod, 15-pound test braid, and an 8-pound fluorocarbon leader, Allee sensed weight on his line and promptly lifted the rod to set the hook. The fight was relatively stress-free, given the cooler water temperatures, until Allee brought the fish close to the surface.

“I felt nervous netting it when I saw its size, suspecting it might be a Colorado record,” he recalls. “Measuring and weighing it only intensified my anxiety because I realized it was a colossal crappie, especially for Colorado.”

A kayak angler extends his hand to measure the state-record crappie. Allee uses his hand to measure the state-record crappie. Photograph by Eric Allee

An experienced kayak tournament bass angler, Allee carries measuring boards and a scale to document his catches. While he typically catches and consumes crappies, recognizing the potential state-record status, he chose to release this exceptional fish back into the lake.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife, in conjunction with other state fish and game agencies, maintains fishing record books for both weight and length records. According to CPW, weight records must be measured on a certified scale, while length records must be documented in inches and then released to qualify for consideration.

Allee notes that his 18.25-inch black crappie, weighing approximately 3 pounds 15 ounces on his hand scale, would have surpassed the state’s weight record. (The preceding state length record for black crappie is a 16.25-inch fish caught in 2023, with the standing weight record being a 3.48-pound fish from 2017.) Allee measured the fish multiple times before its release, hopeful that it might surpass the 4-pound mark.

While the official announcement of Allee’s new state-record crappie is pending, CPW records official Brandon White has confirmed that “the black crappie Eric Allee caught is the new state record by length for Colorado,” as stated in an email to Outdoor Life.

Images/Source: OutdoorLife