Wade Merschat was bank fishing at the Noxon Rapids Reservoir in northwest Montana on June 19 when he hooked into a largescale sucker that he knew instantly was big enough to beat the standing record. Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks certified the catch on Monday, officially recognizing the 12-year-old’s 6.72-pounder as the new state record for the species.

The Trout Creek local was fishing in a swift-water section near Thompson Falls with his friend Collin Norton, who works for the Merschat family’s outfitting business, Waypoint Outfitters.

“Collin has his driver’s license and Wade is always looking for someone who can take him fishing,” Wade’s mother, Morgan Merschat, tells Outdoor Life. “Wade loves the outdoors and wants to be a famous fisherman. He knows all the Montana fish records by heart, [which is how] he knew when he caught that fish it was a state record largescale sucker.”

The 12-year-old was fishing a nightcrawler on light spinning tackle when the sucker bit. In a video recorded by Norton, Wade starts yelling excitedly before he even lands the fish, repeating, “That’s state record! That’s state record!”

“Bro, I’m in disbelief,” he tells Norton as he lifts the sucker. “Dude, that’s easily over four [pounds], it’s like five!”

As it turned out, Merschat’s sucker weighed closer to 7 pounds and measured 25.25 inches long. The previous Montana record for largescale sucker was a 6.16-pound, 23.1-inch fish caught in 2008 from Woodland Park Pond in Kalispell. The world-record largescale sucker is 7 pounds 14 ounces, caught from Idaho’s Snake River in March 2023 by Josh Dolin. It’s one of at least 16 sucker species recognized by International Game Fish Association.

Merschat with a largemouth.

Photo courtesy of Morgan

Largescale suckers are native to Montana’s Western drainage, and usually weigh under five pounds. They’re found from British Columbia to Oregon, usually in slow-flowing areas of rivers, streams, and in lakes. They’re classed as rough fish by many anglers, especially in Montana where trout reign supreme with most fishermen. Suckers are bottom dwellers that chiefly feed on aquatic invertebrates, and plants. They can be caught on live bait like worms, as demonstrated by Merschat.

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Morgan Merschat says her son has been a hard-charging fisherman since he was four, when he caught a largemouth bass that was almost as big as him. The sucker is in the freezer, and the Merschats plan to take it to a taxidermist for mounting.

“Wade’s planning to fill a whole wall with his record-breaking catches.”

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