If you had to pick the time to catch a new world record bass, it would be tough to beat catching it during a tournament. The witnesses, the scales, the prize money — you might even get a standing ovation.
On April 21, 2001, that's exactly what Bryan Shishido did. The 53-year-old pharmacist was fishing an American Bass Big Valley Region Team Tournament on California's Pine Flat Lake when the fish of countless lifetimes struck.
Shishido was fishing Billy Creek with a 5-inch Yamamoto Senko (clear with large black flake) rigged weightless with a 2/0 round-bend offset Gamakatsu hook. His line was 8-pound-test Trilene XL and it was spooled onto a Shimano Chronarch 100 mounted on a G.Loomis casting rod.
The fish struck at about 9:40 a.m., shortly after Shishido and his partner had secured their 5-bass limit. He was slowly lifting and dropping the bait in about 10 feet of water when he felt the bite and set the hook.
When the bass took off for the middle of the lake, stripping drag almost without resistance, Shishido's partner asked, "What have you got, a salmon? It can't be a bass, it's too fast."
They followed the bass on their trolling motor until they were directly above it in 20 feet of water. Shishido steadily gained line until they saw the fish and realized it was a bass. At first their thoughts were about the tournament — land the big bass and they'd certainly win.
When they finally got the fish into the net and realized it was a giant spotted bass, they began talking about the possibilities of a new world record. They were familiar with the then-record spot of 9 pounds, 9 ounces because it had come from the same lake five years earlier.
Once Shishido's fish was in the livewell, he and his partner set their sights on upgrading their limit. But it was difficult to keep their minds off the leviathan in the livewell. They wanted to weigh it in.
On the uncertified tournament scales, the giant spot weighed 10.48 pounds, and their five-bass limit tallied 18.30 pounds — good enough for both a world record and a tournament win!
After collecting their prize money and congratulations, Shishido took the bass to a nearby store with certified scales (the same scales used to weigh the previous world record five years earlier) where they met a representative of the California Fish and Game Department for proper certification as a state record. There the bass weighed 10.27 pounds and was measured at 24 inches in length and 21 inches in girth.
Shishido's bass was the third consecutive world record to be caught from Pine Flat Lake. The first came seven years earlier.
Originally published April 2008