Monday, March 27, 2006

A Record Largemouth Bass...Or Was It?

Just read a fun article in Slate about a guy who reeled in a record 25 pound largemouth bass near San Diego, CA -- a fish that would've set a new record, beating out the 22 pound bass caught by George Perry in Georgia back in 1932. The only problem is that the 25 pounder, much like Barry Bonds' home run record, didn't get landed the conventional way. It was snagged accidentally, near its tail (which must've made for an interesting fight) and so the angler who brought it in has decided not to submit it for consideration for the record books.

If it was me, and I'd survived the battle with a thrashing 25 pound behemoth bass and had time to consider the ethics of my (non)catch, I don't think I'd apply for the record either. It just wouldn't feel right -- there was no way I could really take credit for the catch, since I hadn't done a single thing to actually attract the fish to my lure. How much skill is there in blindly hooking some unsuspecting fish's tail?
Sure, I'd take plenty of pictures...but I wouldn't go trying to overturn that 70+ year record. (And that's not even taking into account the risk of hate mail and crank calls from angry Georgia anglers.)

This reminds me of one of my most vivid fishing memories, an incident that occurred while my father and I were casting for bass (or trout, or whatever) at the south end of Cayuga Lake. As it turned out, "whatever" was definitely the operative term. After casting his Mepps spinner over weed beds for a half-hour or so, my dad got something big on the line. Something really really big. We'd just been drifting with the breeze, and suddenly the boat, a 16' foot Starcraft, started veering southward at a pretty decent clip. At first we were convinced he'd gotten a bass, possibly a record-setter, on the line. Then we began to doubt that there were bass that big in Cayuga. Then we thought maybe it was one of the rare, almost mythical sturgeon that inhabit the lake -- a fish that we both knew could only have gotten hooked through an accidental snagging.

When we finally caught a glimpse of the leviathan, the first thing we saw was a massive tail fanning the water with a slow, methodical determination. Not very bass-like, to say the least. And as it got even closer, we saw my dad's lure glittering just in front of the tail: no question he'd snagged it. Finally, as the fish kept trying to head south, seeming pretty unconcerned about whatever was slowing it down, I managed to slip the net under it and we got a good look at what random chance had brought us. It was a carp, a big, bored-looking, bluish-purple carp with much, much better places to be than our net. Neither of us felt like man-handling the beast onto the scale, especially after the hassle we'd put it through, but it must've been a 20-pounder at least. After a quick twist of the pliers the lure came right out and we eased it back into the lake, a free fish. It took off in no particular hurry in the same direction it had been heading all along.

Exciting? Yes. Humorous? Sure. My dad's finest moment as an angler? Far from it. Needless to say, he didn't go looking to shatter any carp records afterwards. (He wouldn't have, anyway - the record New York State carp weighed in at 50 pounds, 4 ounces, and was caught on a nightcrawler at Tomhannock Reservoir in 1995.)


Post a Comment

<< Home