The Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks has certified a new state record for striped bass — 39.6 pounds.

Rocky Rawls of Gautier caught the fish March 5 in the West Pascagoula River near his home. He was using a bull minnow for bait.

Biologist Stan Crider certified the fish and the weight.

The previous record of 37 pounds, 13.12 ounces stood for nearly 23 years. Tony Graves caught that fish May 13, 1993, in the Bowie River near Hattiesburg. The Bowie River is part of the upper Pascagoula River system.

Striped bass are native to Mississippi and are anadromous, meaning they are at home in both fresh and salt water. Spawning takes place in fresh water, but according to the MDWFP natural reproduction is limited in the state’s coastal rivers.

However, a stocking program by the MDWFP and the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources has been able to boost the population, and it is likely the new record fish is a product of those stocking efforts.