John Byrd Jr., of Bowling Inexperienced, Virginia has been fishing the identical personal farm pond for many years, however he’s by no means caught a fish fairly just like the one he landed earlier this month. The chain pickerel had a vivid blue mouth, which is the results of a uncommon genetic pigment mutation, in keeping with the Virginia Division of Wildlife Assets.
“I’d by no means seen one which colour! And I’ve been fishing in that pond for greater than 20 years!” Byrd informed the division, referring to the 14-acre pond he frequents in Caroline County.
The fish ate a Whopper Plopper lure and measured between 11 and 12 inches lengthy. After touchdown it, Byrd determined to maintain the pickerel and introduced it to his taxidermist to be mounted. However first he contacted VDWR regional fisheries biologist Scott Hermann, who confirmed each the species and the rarity of Byrd’s catch.
“The coloration expressed by the blue pickerel is extraordinarily uncommon,” Hermann mentioned. “It just about falls into the once-in-a-lifetime class of catches.”
Hermann defined that chain pickerel, that are native to Virginia and different East Coast states, usually have a inexperienced coloration. This comes from the yellow pigments discovered within the fish’s pores and skin tissue. Blue-mouth pickerel lack these yellow pigments, so as an alternative of blending with yellow to kind inexperienced, the tissue reveals up as a vibrant blue colour.
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Whereas uncommon, different anglers have caught blue-mouth pickerel earlier than. The primary recognized report of a “blue pickerel” got here from an angler in Ithaca, New York, within the late Sixties, in keeping with one evolutionary biologist conversant in the species. After different anglers reported comparable catches, a follow-up research decided that solely .2 p.c of all of the chain pickerel caught within the space over six years had been “blue pickerel.”
Because the VDWR factors out, different blue-mouth pickerel have been caught by East Coast anglers extra lately than that. An angler in Maryland caught one from Loch Raven Reservoir in 2014, and in 1997, a Pennsylvania angler caught two of them from totally different lakes in the identical month. A number of different unconfirmed catches have additionally been reported on numerous fishing boards over time.