The product recommendations on our site are independently chosen by our editors. When you click through our links, we may earn a commission. Thanks for helping us do what we love.

Angler Catches Rare Golden Smallmouth Bass

Rare fish always draw admiration and this latest rare catch is definitely one worth recognizing. Indiana angler Josh Chrenko was fishing the Muskegon River near Newaygo, Michigan on July 13, when an odd fish bit his lure and was fighting him on the retrieve. When he got the fish out of the water, he knew it was something special.

“Up until I caught this guy, I didn’t even know they existed,” Chrenko said. “For someone that lives and breathes fishing for smallmouth, this is one I’ll remember my entire life. The condition is called Xanthochromism (Xanthism) which causes skin pigment in animals to be unusually yellow. I can only imagine that this little guy had to overcome crazy odds to survive the first couple years of his life from predation. Being neon orange would make for a tough life as a small freshwater fish where pretty much everything is earth tones. This golden smallmouth was caught on the Muskegon River in Newaygo, Mich.”

Xanthism is not terribly common in freshwater bass species to this magnitude. In one study in Florida, fish were sampled for 10 years to the tune of 250,000 fish and not one case of Xanthism was found. So it’s rare to find in bass and even rarer in smallmouth bass. While we’ve seen some largemouth bass with xanthism, as well as this one, this is the first smallmouth we’ve seen.

Josh Chrenko is not just an avid smallmouth angler, he lives and breathes it. He not only hosts one of the only smallmouth exclusive podcasts, Smallie Talk, but he also owns a smallmouth apparel brand Achigan: The Official Brand of Smallmouth Bass. Check out his clothing store here: And you can listen to his podcast here: Achigan happens to be the Algonquin native word for Smallmouth.

Awesome catch, Josh! You can listen to his explanation down below and see his release on video from his Facebook page.


Josh Chrenko's golden smallmouth bass from michigan