Lawrence Dillman of Rockaway Beach, Missouri caught a striped bass so big, he had to literally tackle the fish to bring it out of the water. According to the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC), Dillman caught the massive 65-pound, two-ounce fish from Bull Shoals Lake on May 21. Laid out, the fish measured nearly 50 inches long and 36 inches around.

“I fought the giant for over 45 minutes until I got him to shallow water,” Dillman told officials. “I then bear hugged the fish and got it out of the water on to the bank.”

The fish was brought to a certified scale at the Shepard of the Hills Hatchery and verified by MDC biologists as the new state record, beating out a 60-pound, nine-ounce bass caught in the same lake back in 2011. Dillman used a 20-pound test line and a chub minnow to land the giant fish, which he initially suspected was another species entirely.

“Once the fish was on the line, I knew I had a decent one, but I didn’t at all think it was a striped bass,” Dillman said. “I thought it was a spoonbill or something else. But when I got him to the bank I knew I had something amazing!”

At more than 65 pounds, the bass is one of the largest on record. The International Game Fish Association currently lists an 81-pound, 14-ounce striped bass as the largest ever caught on rod and reel. That fish belongs to Gregory Myerson, who landed the behemoth bass from Long Island Sound in Connecticut in 2011.

Striped bass are often kept by fishermen because of their mild-tasting flesh and versatility in cooking—while others value the fish for its fighting ability. As for Dillman, he says he plans on getting his record bass mounted.

“I’ve caught bigger fish in the ocean, but this fish is the biggest fresh-water fish I have ever caught,” he explained.

Image courtesy Missouri Department of Conservation

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