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For Release: Sunday, November 15, 2020

DEC Announces Tie for State Record Pumpkinseed

Pumpkinseed Caught in January Recently Confirmed through DNA Analysis

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos today announced that the state record for a pumpkinseed has officially been tied by a catch on the Black River earlier this year.

"It took some time, but I want to personally congratulate Jordan Tontarski, the angler who caught the pumpkinseed last winter in Jefferson County, tying a state record set 25 years ago," Commissioner Seggos said. "New York has some of the most outstanding year-round angling opportunities in the nation and we encourage residents and visitors alike to enjoy this relaxing and family-friendly sport."

man holding pumpkinseed fish
Jordan Tontarski shows his record-tying pumpkinseed.

Tontarski caught the pumpkinseed last January while ice fishing on the Black River near Watertown. He had a feeling his catch would be a contender in the New York State Winter Classic Fishing Tournament and brought the fish to Chaumont Hardware for an official weigh-in. It came in at 1 lbs. 9 oz., with physical features of both pumpkinseed and the bluegill sunfish species. Tontarski brought the fish to DEC's Region 6 Office for biologists to examine, but the verdict remained inconclusive. Seeking a final answer, he drove his mystery sunfish across the state to Albany for identification by ichthyologists at the New York State Museum. The recently completed DNA test concluded the fish was a pure pumpkinseed, officially tying the state record set in 1994 by R. Kennard Mosher in Indian Lake, Hamilton County.

Tontarski submitted details of his winning catch to DEC's Angler Achievement Awards Program, which tracks state record fish. Through this program, anglers can enter freshwater fish that meet specific qualifying criteria and receive official recognition of their catch and a distinctive lapel pin commemorating the achievement. Three categories make up the program: Catch & Release; Annual Award; and State Record.

A photo of the record fish is posted on the New York State Freshwater Fishing Records page of DEC's website.

Tontarski's fish joins two other state records set this year: Morgan Fonzi's 3 lb., 8 oz. white bass caught on May 6 from the Lower Niagara River, Niagara County; and Jason Leusch's 2 lb. rock bass caught on May 24 from Port Bay, Wayne County.

For more information about the Angler Achievement Awards Program, including a downloadable application form, go to DEC's website. Program details and an official entry form (PDF) can also be found in DEC's current Freshwater Fishing Regulations Guide (PDF).

For additional information on the Angler Achievement Awards Program, call (518) 402-8891 or email

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