GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) - A Michigan man has caught a rare orange fish on the Muskegon River.
Paul Gillis caught the fish Saturday while on a fishing trip with his brother and daughter, MLive reported .
“We were catching a ton of smallmouth, walleye, trout and suckers,” he said. “We decided to hit a hole we were fishing earlier. As I was about to set anchor, my brother David said ‘Hey Paul, what is that? Is that a fish?’ I said ‘That’s a fish’ and grabbed my pole.”
Gillis said he first thought he’d caught a goldfish. But Department of Natural Resources Fisheries Wildlife Biologist Kevin Wehrly identified the fish on Wednesday as a rarely-spotted, orange-colored smallmouth bass.
“Although we can’t say that this gold smallmouth bass is a one-in-a-billion catch, we do know that it is extremely rare,” he said.
The fish has a genetic condition called Xanthism, which causes yellow pigments to be more pronounced, Wehrly said.
The bright colorization is rare in the wild because it makes animals easy targets for predators, Wehrly said. The colors are more common in the pet trade because they are selectively bred and highly popular.
Gillis’ daughter Anna nicknamed the fish “Sharktooth” before they released it back into the river unharmed.
“I’ve caught a bunch of muskies,” Gillis said. “But this fish tops them all.”