By the end of the first day of the Pro Am California Tournament Trail Event, all eyes were on angler Keith Bryan and his astounding 21.39-pound haul. The guest of honor was a 10.48-pound spotted bass, which may be the new all-tackle world record.
“I can’t even describe it, like ‘are you kidding me?’ I want to say that sometimes,” Bryan told OutdoorHub.
Bryan, the owner of Powell Fishing Rods, caught the fish from the New Melonies Reservoir in Tuolumne County on February 22. Although the fight only lasted about four minutes, Bryan said that the fish put up a spirited fight.
“She came up several times just so you can see the hook in her mouth about 20 yards away, then she would just rip line and go down,” Bryan continued.
The angler was using a Shimano Stradic 3000 reel with a Powell Inferno 6103 rod, Power Pro braided line, eight-pound-test Seaguar InvizX fluorocarbon, and a five-inch Yakamoto Senko.
It was only when he brought the fish out of the water that he realized how big it was. Bryan’s fishing partner initially thought he had caught a largemouth bass, but then Bryan showed off the fish’s belly.
“It’s a spotted bass,” he told his awestruck partner.
Weighing 10.48 pounds and measuring 24.5 inches long with a girth of 22.13 inches, the fish makes a run for the current all-tackle record. For now, the record is held by a 10.25-pound bass caught by Bryan Shishido from Pine Flat Lake in 2001.
Bryan said he was shaking when the fish was taken to the weigh-in, about 15 minutes ahead of schedule. The bass scored a solid 10.48 pounds, but when weighed on certified scales several hours later, the weight dropped significantly.
“At that point I was just happy I was fortunate enough to catch this big fish,” Bryan said.
However, Bryan said that when he contacted the International Game Fish Association (IGFA), they told him to send in both scales for certification. With the help of tournament weighmaster Bill Cook, the scales were shipped off to IGFA and were both pronounced dead-on.
Jack Vitek, IGFA records coordinator, said that it is likely that the organization will recognize the original weight.
“We’re going to go with that original weight, because that was the most accurate as far as when the fish was weighed after being caught,” Vitek told outdoors writer Jody Only.
The process to confirm the bass as a new world record will take 60 days, but if successful, Bryan could have two records on his hands. The angler’s bass qualifies for both the all-tackle record and the heaviest in the eight-pound line class.
For Bryan, however, the greatest pleasure was that he was able to release the fish safely back into the water.
“The finest gift you can give to any fisherman is to put a big fish back, and who knows if the fish that you caught isn’t someone else’s gift to you?” the angler said, paraphrasing a quote by famed fly fisherman Lee Wulff.
Not surprisingly, Bryan went on to win the two-day tournament with a combined total of just under 40 pounds. With the closest contender just over two pounds away, Bryan says the large bass definitely gave him an advantage.