Paul Bailey caught the largest spotted bass ever on Sunday, but it might be the one that got away.
Bailey, 35, a pro angler from Kelseyville, Calif., realizes there are circumstances that might not allow it to be certified as the IGFA all tackle world record.
He landed the 11-pound, 4-ounce spot in a northern California reservoir while fishing with longtime friend Matt Newman, who owns iRod, and Shea McIntee, who hosts a TV fishing show.
Knowing Bailey’s fish would eclipse the IGFA world record of 10.95 pounds set last February by Lou Ferrante, they immediately contacted state game and wildlife officials.
“Fish and Game didn’t really want to deal with it at all,” Newman said. “It was the middle of nowhere, a Sunday afternoon, holiday weekend. We got a hold of them, and they didn’t even have any advice of what we should do, except maybe call IGFA.”
The men’s offer to meet the official was denied, and since transporting live fish in California is illegal, it led to a dilemma. They wanted to try for the record but didn’t want to kill the fish, so they documented it as well as they could and released it.
“We discussed it and we had a lot of witnesses,” Newman said. “There were a good 10 people who saw it and there were three scales (showing 11-7, 11-5, and 11-4). We’re going to send all to the IGFA and see what they say. We won’t be crushed if it didn’t happen, but we’re realistic about it as well.”
On Monday, Bailey submitted all the paperwork to the International Game Fish Association. There is an IGFA Record Application form to complete before a lengthy vetting process by the keeper of fish records in Dania, Fla. The IGFA requires certified scales, but there have been cases when the scale was approved afterward.
“We still have to go through the process,” Bailey said. “We have a lot of evidence, a lot of proof. It might not be exactly what they’re asking for, but we’re going to do our best.”
The anglers had high hopes before they began their day fishing, filming a discussion that they planned to get Newman a personal best spotted bass and possibly break the world record in the process.
The frosty morn started inauspiciously with a couple “rats.” Newman, 44, was the first to land a lunker, and he celebrated the 8-pounder as a personal best.
“While he’s doing his dance, I kind of snuck up front and made the same cast, same spot, same everything and I got that 11-4 out of there,” Bailey said. “After we got done celebrating that, Matt got a 6 1/2. It was a cut between two points and they were in there.”
As he reeled it in, Bailey’s fish jumped twice and they knew it was large, most certainly over 10 pounds. When Newman grabbed it at the side of the boat, he looked back at Bailey and told him he had a world record.
“The look in his eyes told me I had a legitimate world record,” Bailey said. “He called it before he even pulled it into the boat. I could see it in his eyes. He kind of held her in the water for a moment so I couldn’t see her, like a friend would do, then pulled her out and was like, ‘You have a world record.’ It was kind of cool.”
Newman screamed and danced in sheer excitement while Bailey said he remained almost frozen in shock. It was all filmed for an episode of McIntee’s “Stoked on Fishing,” and will air in February on FoxSports West and StokedonFishing.com.
“If Shea didn’t come up here to film the show, we would have never gone over there and this would have never happened,” Bailey said.
The three are protective of the small reservoir, believing if the exact location was released the fishery would be harmed by an overzealous invading army of anglers.
“People are guessing left and right, but we’re never going to confirm it,” Bailey said. “There’s such a big population of big fish in there and with how many people bass fish in California, and it would really hurt the fish.”
The rod and lure have Bassmaster Elite Series connections. Fred Roumbanis, who is on the iRod pro-staff along with Bailey, was stoked his signature Power Finesse 712S Spinning Rod was used on the record fish. Both big fish were enticed by 1/2-ounce Picasso Shakedown Shaky heads with 6-inch Roboworm Fat Straightail Worms in Martens Madness.
Bailey might certainly benefit this winter as his business, Big Bait Bailey Guide Service, is offering spotted bass outings. He said if the record doesn’t come with this fish, he believes it will come from another in northern California very soon. But he still can’t fathom it happened to him, even as it was happening.
“I was kind of in disbelief,” he said. “I was thinking to myself, ‘No way, there’s no way. This didn’t just happen.’ People try to do this for a long, long time, and I couldn’t believe it.”
Baseball to bass?
Many pro athletes are known to wet a line in their offseason, and some are extremely serious about the endeavor. Serious about fishing sums up retiring Major League pitcher A.J. Burnett.
“I joke around and tell a lot of people that I’m really a good fisherman, and baseball’s just a hobby,” Burnett told Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette for this story, which also credits Burnett for saying he wants to qualify for a Bassmaster Classic.
Hey, A.J., good luck on bringing it.
Yes, there’s still a chance
The discriminating angler can be difficult to shop for, but Jerry McKinnis and his book, “Bass Fishing, Browning Dogs and Curveballs” solves that dilemma.
And there’s still time plenty of time to get an autographed copy before Christmas. Go to Jerrysbook.com and fill out the order form, including a section to get a personalized autograph. It’s going at a reduced holiday rate of $27.95.
Behind Bassmaster LIVE
There are plenty of workers behind Bassmaster LIVE, and Chris Mitchell is the go-to guy for the technical end of getting it to work on this website. He teams with Brightcove to get the show’s landing page, chat room, etc., up and running on Bassmaster.com.
A story on Businesswire.com detailed Brightcove’s Gallery Live Event, and Mitchell was asked for his take on how it’s working for us. Of course, it’s pretty obvious he emailed his response in, because he comes off sounding like a robot, like most written answers do.
“It is a responsive page, ready for the legion of bass fishing fans using their mobile devices to watch and interact with our content. When we asked our fans how they watched our live shows, we saw photos from people’s living rooms to people's boats,” said Mitchell, a real human, not a robot (we think).
This should be proof Mitchell is not even a cyborg. Robots would have fried his circuits after finding him guilty of laptopicide – he drowned his computer in Sturgeon Bay, the impetus of this story “Lost overboard.”
Working to keep folks fishing
More anglers means more good stuff overall for the fishing world. Studies commissioned by the American Sportfishing Association (ASA) work to determine trends so efforts can be made to increase the number of anglers.
A recent survey conducted by Southwick Associates shows that young anglers, female anglers and those in urban areas are most likely to go years without fishing. The aim then is to work with that churn rate information.
"I think the most important thing we’ve discovered is that our challenge may not be as much about getting people to take up fishing as it is keeping people fishing from year-to-year," said Mike Nussman, president and CEO of ASA.
Nussman added that after buying a license one year, approximately 15 million people do not buy one the following year. He noted how important it is for game and fish agencies, as well angling organizations, to work together to improve access, fishing quality and convenience in order to entice more anglers to buy a license every year.
Everyone can do their part by taking a friend out fishing.
- Photo of the week again comes from Dennis Tiejte and this shot of a curious squirrel, who climbed up his tree stand and got up close and personnel with the camera.
- If your fall fishing hasn’t been going so well, check out what top five baits several Elite anglers recommend for the changing weather. Kevin Short, Chris Zaldain, Marty Robinson, Zell Rowland, Randall Tharp and John Crews offer up what they use.
- Retailers are a huge part of the fishing industry and Kevin VanDam gives a rundown about what this time of year means for the business end of bass. It’s a key period, and KVD even coined a phrase for the biggest of shopping days and what it means in the fishing world. He calls it Black (bass) Friday.