Eleven-year-old Conner Peitsmeyer made the most of his new rod and reel while fishing with his father on a cold morning in November at Aurora Reservoir. The young angler used the spinning outfit and 6-pound line to catch a state record smallmouth weighing 6 pounds, 8 ounces and measuring 20 3/4 inches long.
Carl Dewey owned the previous record with a 5-12 bronzeback taken in 1993 at Navajo Reservoir.
"Any time someone lands a new state record, it's exciting for us," said Greg Gerlich, fisheries chief with the Division of Wildlife (DOW). "It's even more exciting when it is a youngster that pulls in one of these big fish. This is yet another example of how anyone, regardless of age or experience, can have a great day fishing."
The youngest of three brothers, Conner had saved his birthday and Christmas money to buy the St. Croix rod and Shimano reel. A few days before he caught the record fish, he used the outfit to catch his first big bass, a 5-pounder, in the same area.
"We had caught quite a few big bass that week," said his father, Michael. "When he caught that first big one, Conner told me he was shaking, but he wasn't sure if it was from the cold or from the excitement."
The two were vertically jigging in about 35 feet of water with live fathead minnows, pinned on No. 6 Gamakatsu Octopus hooks, when the big bass struck about 11 a.m. Friday, Nov. 12.
The longest smallmouth measured and released was recorded on Aurora as well. Caught by Donnie Starnes, it stretched to 23 3/4 inches.
"Aurora Reservoir has ideal forage conditions to produce very large fish," explained Paul Winkle, a DOW aquatic biologist.
"There's an outstanding population of crayfish and yellow perch, which provides an excellent food source for the fish to grow to enormous sizes."
Mostly Aurora is utilized by trout anglers from the Denver area. Its electric-motors-only regulation discourages some, but Conner's record catch no doubt will encourage bass anglers to take a closer look.