Gillette resident breaks state fishing record for freshwater drum

For the second time in as many months, a state record-breaking fish has been caught in the Sheridan region.

7/20/2018 6:53:59 AM

Cheyenne - For the second time in as many months, a state record-breaking fish has been caught in the Sheridan region. On July 15, 2018, Gillette resident James Potter Jr. caught a 22.58-pound freshwater drum in Keyhole Reservoir, breaking the existing state record by more than four pounds.

Potter and his father in law, Tom McCracken of Las Vegas, had been fishing for pike for only 20 minutes when the fish took Potter’s offering of frozen smelt.

“The fish took the bait and went on about a 60-yard run,” said Potter. “We weren’t sure what we had on the line. We eventually saw a flash of white and thought maybe it was a big walleye. But when it surfaced a bit and got closer to shore we finally saw it was a giant drum. We couldn’t believe it.”

Potter has caught drum before, in the two to three pound range, so knew the large fish was special. He looked up the state record and thought his might top 20 pounds. He soon saw game wardens Luke May and Derek White passing by on a patrol boat and flagged them down. The pair was able to get Potter started with the paperwork and certifying process.

“It was quite the moment when we put it on the scale and it printed out that ticket,” said Potter.  “I saw that 22 pounds and said ‘we just beat the record! We just blew it out of the water!’”
The previous freshwater drum record was set in August 2012 by Harley Speed. That fish also came from Keyhole Reservoir and weighed 17 pounds, 4 ounces. Prior to Speed’s catch, the record Wyoming drum was an 11-pound, 12-ounce fish caught in Glendo Reservoir in 1993.

“We don’t have them in a lot of places,” said Sheridan Fisheries Biologist Andrew Nikirk about drum. “They are not native to Wyoming but are an introduced sport fish. Anglers generally don’t target drum. They are usually incidental catches when anglers are ‘bottom bouncing’ for walleye with crawlers.

“They are good eating, but a lot of people don’t know that,” he continued. “The typical size of a drum we see at Keyhole is in the 12 to 18-inch range. And pound for pound they are one of the tougher fighting fishes, no doubt.”

Potter’s catch comes just weeks after Caleb Salzman caught a new state record largemouth bass on May 10 at Kleenburn Pond near Sheridan. Salzman’s catch, weighing 11.51 pounds, beat the previous state record, set in 1992, by more than four pounds.

Overall, this is the third species of state record fish caught this year in Wyoming. The other record broken in 2018 is for green sunfish by Chris Castleman at Bryan Stock Trail Pond in Casper.  


(Christina Schmidt (307-672-8003 ext. 235))

- WGFD -

First round of draw result posted soon

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department will make draw results available for resident and nonresident spring turkey and nonresident elk license at 10 a.m. MST on Feb. 21

Continue reading...

You’re invited to the Outdoor Hall of Fame

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department is hosting an induction ceremony at 5 p.m. on March 22 at the Buffalo Bill Center for the West in Cody.

Continue reading...

Governor Gordon appoints next Game and Fish director

The governor has appointed Brian Nesvik as the next director of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department. Nesvik replaces Scott Talbott, who has retired.

Continue reading...

Game and Fish holding local migration corridor meetings in February

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department is holding five local meetings to discuss ungulate migration and proposed corridors.

Continue reading...

Game and Fish Commission submits three candidates for director to Governor Gordon

The Wyoming Game and Fish Commission announced Monday that three candidates, one from Wyoming, Montana and Texas, will be submitted to Governor Mark Gordon, who will interview the three candidates and make the appointment of the department’s new director.

Continue reading...

Game and Fish announces public meeting dates for 2019 proposed hunting seasons and regulations

 All interested parties are encouraged to attend one of the public meetings to be held across the state discussing the 2019 hunting season proposals.

Continue reading...

Deadline nearing for conservation stamp art contest

The deadline is nearing for the 36th annual Wyoming Game and Fish Department Conservation Stamp Art Show. 

Continue reading...

Wild bison hunt applications open until Feb. 28

Wyoming wild bison hunters can prepare to submit their applications for the 2019 season.

Continue reading...

Increase in wildlife-based recreation contributes more to Wyoming economy in 2017

Hunters, anglers and wildlife watchers in Wyoming contributed more than $1 billion to Wyoming’s economy during 2017.

Continue reading...

Wyoming Game and Fish director retires

Wyoming Game and Fish Director Scott Talbott announced his retirement after 34 years of service with the agency.

Continue reading...

Email Newsletter

Email Newsletter Sign Up

Stay up to date on all Wyoming Game and Fish news either by email or text message. Click the link below to get started.

Sign Up Today


Conserving Wildlife - Serving People