Erie is one of the best places for big smallies. Huge shallow, productive lake, with lots of forage. It was in trouble for years, being anoxic over large areas due to lots of algae growth fostered by phosphates that used to be used in soaps/detergents that were flushed down countless drains. That problem was taken care of, and Erie has been doing really well for the last 10-15 years.
Now, they face a potential problem with the introduction of a goby species that preys on smallmouth eggs. Hope the goby doesn't wreak havoc on the smallies in the long run.
It looks even bigger than it is due to the perspective. On a boat, you can't really get far away, so fish is probably half as far from the camera as the girls are. Holding the fish way out in front is a nice way to get the illusion of even greaters size in photos.
I found the link in bass fishing home page and it was supposedly 9.5 lbs. 5 and 6 lb smallies are vary common in that lake. Believe what you want I just thought is was pretty cool. I watched a guy pull two 5 lb smallies out of chatfield in two casts and in the live well they went. What a shame.