May 26, 2021
Jim Harris Managing Editor Arkansas Wildlife Magazine
BENTONVILLE – Josh Rogers never had a doubt he had caught a largemouth bass while fishing Sunday evening at Beaver Lake. But with its golden hue, he wondered what might be up with this fish.
“I had two thoughts when I caught it,” he said. “The midlake area on down is uncharacteristically muddy now, and I know that bass get light-colored when they are in the mud. But when I looked at the mouth and gills, I wondered if he was sick. My buddy I was fishing with said, ‘Surely it’s not something he’s eating that would turn him that color.’”
They took photos, figuring someone might could identify the reason the fish had such a golden tint, and returned the bass to the water. “I didn’t think anything about it for an hour and a half of fishing. Then I started sending pictures to friends and putting it on Instagram and Facebook, and from the reaction of everybody, I started thinking, ‘Maybe I shouldn’t have thrown it back.’ I was surprised it caused such a reaction from people.”
Rogers’ catch, in Arkansas Game and Fish Commission biologist Jon Stein’s words, was akin to hitting the Powerball, only without the cash payout. “Josh needs to buy a lottery ticket, because he caught one fish in a million.”
Stein says the gold-colored largemouth bass was a genetic anomaly. “The unusual bass has what is known as Xanthochromism, which is the loss of darker pigment with the pigmentation replaced with yellow. This is very rare and does occur naturally.”
Rogers said, “I’d never heard of one like this before seeing one.” Although he caught-and-released this rarity, he said he is having a replica made through the photographs.
Rogers caught the fish on a swim jig. His friend was flipping a jig. Even though the overall fishing that evening was slow and required some work, Rogers said, together they ended up catching about 15 fish, but nothing like the first one of the day. “I flipped him into the boat and said, ‘What in the world?’” He said the fish was 16 inches long and, post-spawn, would run about 2 pounds.
When Rogers isn’t as busy as he’s been lately, he said, he’s out on Beaver Lake at least two times a week. “I probably will go two to four times a week,” he said.