Chief catches lake record smallmouth

LEBEC, Calif. — On Jan. 13, Mark “Chief” Torrez found out that a hefty smallmouth he caught during the California B.A.S.S. Nation state qualifier, Nov. 30, 2013, at Lake Pyramid was a lake record.

“That smallie definitely pushed me over the edge,” Torrez said. The 4.04-pound smallmouth made up most of his weight (5.32 pounds) for the tournament and helped him qualify for the California Nation state team through the point standings.

Early in the tournament, Torrez targeted both largemouth and smallmouth but soon found out the smallmouth were more cooperative that day.

“The smallmouth are picking up in weight and length (on Pyramid),” said Torrez, who noted the biggest Lake Pyramid smallmouth he had caught in the past weighed about 1 1/2 pounds. “The largemouth predominantly own that lake, but the smallmouth are now starting to populate better.”

The Ventura Bass Club president recalls catching a smallmouth “right off the bat,” but then he started struggling. Meanwhile, his partner, Steve Wilson, was catching fish on a Huddleston Huddlebug, a soft plastic crawfish that Wilson told Torrez he hadn’t used in nearly two years.

“He asked me if I wanted one and I thought, what the heck?,” Torrez said. “So he tossed me one and I put it on a 1/2-ounce painted football head. I threw it out and let it fall off a ledge, and the fish just thumped the heck out of that bait. When I got it to the surface, we both said it was the biggest smallmouth we had ever seen there.”

During the weigh-in, several well-known California tournament anglers urged him to take the information and photos of his fish to the lake management booth to find out if it was a lake record. The lake management official at the booth was unable to verify the record that day, though, and told Torrez he would be contacted by the lake manager.

Last week, Tammy Rose, Lake Management manager, contacted Torrez to confirm that his catch was verified as the record smallmouth for Lake Pyramid.

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