Two award-winning Goldeye caught locally

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Nick Thornton, top, caught an 18.75-inch Goldeye weighing 2.62 pounds. Cryssi Hentges' Goldeye measured 19 inches and weighed two pounds. Both received the Master Angler Award for their catch of the day. (Photo submitted)

By Caroline Rosacker

The Mississippi River is one of the most notable rivers in the world. It originates in Lake Itasca, Minn., and flows approximately 2,350 miles to the Gulf of Mexico. It first served as a corridor for settlement by Native Americans and later as a major mode of transportation for European-American settlers. In a recent promotional video interview for Guttenberg, area fisherman Ray Black noted, "Fishing on the Mississippi River is second to none. You can catch about any kind of fish there in this great waterway." 

Master Angler Award

On Saturday, Oct. 10, area angler Nick Thornton of Garnavillo and Cryssi Hentges of Cedar Rapids both caught near-record breaking fish from river Pool 11 near Guttenberg. The species of fish is called a “Goldeye” which is very similar to a “Mooneye.” The slight difference between species left both anglers short of a state record fish, but both catches are still award-winning fish.

"Although not state record fish, both fish have been submitted for a Master Angler Award sponsored by the Iowa DNR," said Kevin Hanson, fisheries technician with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Guttenberg. "The Iowa Master Angler Award recognizes memorable-sized catches for more than 40 fish species. Those anglers who apply and qualify receive an official certificate and car/boat decal."

Hanson explained, "We measured Nick’s fish at 18.75  inches and 2.62 lbs. Cryssi's fish was reported as 19 inches and 2.00 pounds. The state record Goldeye was caught in Pool 10 and is listed as 20 inches and 2.94 pounds. The state records are ultimately based on heaviest weight. Nick's was only .32 or one third of a pound away from the state record.  Had these fish been identified as Mooneye they both would have been state records.  The record Mooneye was 15.62 inches and 1.52 lbs. and  was also caught in the Mississippi — in Pool 9.

He added, "Goldeye and Mooneye are in the herring family. They are a bony fish so are better for pickling, but they are prized as a smoked fish in Canada. They are an open water fish so rather than being associated with shorelines or structure, they will be more free swimming as they look for food, which is often small fish or aquatic insects." 

Other state records caught in the Upper Mississippi are:

Pool 9

•Black Buffalo - 63.38 pounds

•Brown Bullhead  - 1.25 pounds

Pool 10

•Bowfin - 11.69 pounds

Pool 11

•Rock Bass - 1.50 pounds

Pool 13 

•Longnose Gar - 20.81 pounds

"This recognition provides an opportunity to highlight the great fishing opportunities in this area and the unique fishery we are lucky to have here, as well as the chance folks have, through the DNR, to be recognized for their big fish," noted Hanson. 

Nick Thornton

Thornton's award winning Goldeye was 18.75 inches long and weighed 2.62 pounds. "I was fishing out of a boat, and using a bobber and a minnow at the time. It gave a good fight, but I was able to net it without a problem," he commented. 

Thornton also enjoys bow-hunting, ice fishing, camping on the Mississippi and mushroom hunting. "I have been fishing for a few years now. My advice for anyone new to the sport – it's all about the wiggle," he laughed. 

The avid outdoorsman shared his passion for the Driftless Area and the Mississippi River. "It's a great ecosystem, and I am very blessed to be so close to the Mississippi.  It's a new adventure every time you go. It has a lot to offer," he shared. 

Cryssi Hentges

Hentges' prize catch, also a Goldeye, measured 19 inches and weighed 2 pounds. "I was fishing with an Ugly Stick GX2 using an eight-pound test line and a Berkley Flicker Blue Tiger lure, in fast current," she noted.

"My boyfriend Geno and I fish every weekend from about mid-April until mid-October, and use a jon boat from Landing 615. The two of us just started fishing this year, after we started dating," she commented. 

The couple has known one another since high school. "He finally got the nerve to ask me out this year on his birthday.  We were out with a group of friends celebrating. I told him no," she laughed. "I didn't want to ruin our friendship. A few weeks later, we were out fishing together, and I decided it was worth taking a chance.  It has been the best year I've had in a long time, even with the way 2020 has thrown us curve balls at every turn."

She continued, "I've fished off the bank quite a bit over the years, but this is the first year I have gone out on the river to fish in a boat, and the first year I've used lures instead of bait."

Geno has been fishing in Guttenberg for the past 36 years. He caught a state-record fish at age 12, and took first place in a Ducks Unlimited tournament. "I watched Geno cast over a tree, and then catch a fish with the line over the tree.  He ended up with the fish in the boat and didn't lose his lure!" she exclaimed. 

The couple also enjoys car shows, taking scenic drives and outdoor activities. "We both love being close to the river and have completed the 13 Iowa waterfalls drive with my son this year," she added. 

"To be honest, I'm still in awe that I caught a noteworthy fish. Had it not been for Geno and his fishing knowledge, I would not have been fishing on the Mississippi, let alone catching such an impressive catch my first year out. We do catch and release, so pictures are how we note our catches," she concluded. 

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