For one woman in Marianna, Florida, the perfect Mother’s Day gift was a new state record flier. Twila Gates was fishing with her son and one of his friends on May 9 when she reeled in a one-pound, 5.6-ounce flier from an unspecified pond in Jackson County. It measured 12 inches long and 11.8 inches in girth. At that size, state biologists speculate that the fish could be a contender for the world record as well.
“If Gate’s flier is submitted to the International Game Fish Association (IGFA), this could also become the new world record,” stated a press release from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC). “Anglers from North Carolina and Georgia held the previous world record jointly with a pair of 1-pound, 4-ounce submissions.”
Although Gates was unwilling to disclose the location of her secret fishing hole, she said that it is one she’s familiar with. She learned how to fish there with her dad, so it was only natural that she would introduce the sport to her own son in the same spot. Besides the record flier, Gates, her son Janzten, and his friend William Hinson caught about four other fliers and two 10-pound-plus bass. She landed her last flier on a Shakespeare micro-spin and six-pound P-line with a grub beetle-spin. Hinson mentioned that particular fish was unusually large and after consulting online records, Gates decided to give the FWC a call.
Sure enough, a biologist came out and certified the flier as a new state record. The angler’s next move was to call her father.
“I’ve called him multiple times,” Gates told the Jackson County Floridan. “He’s so happy for me. He said he’d been fishing all his life and never caught anything like that.”
The best part, Gates said, was introducing two young anglers to the sport.
“I’ve gotten more pleasure out of watching those two boys get so excited about it,” she said. “They’ve been floating on Cloud 9. I get happier about that than anything else. I give them all the credit for taking me fishing that day.”
According to the IGFA, the current world record for flier belongs to a one-pound, four-ounce fish caught by R. Snipes from Spring Lake in North Carolina. With a state record under her belt, Gates will have a strong case should she decide to submit her fish to the IGFA.
“In one day of fishing, right here in the Fishing Capital of the World, Ms. Gates, her son and his friend were on the verge of qualifying for all three programs—and topped it off with a potential world record. That is a happy Mother’s Day weekend for a young lady devoted to her son and the outdoors,” said Tom Champeau, director of the Division of Freshwater Fisheries Management.
Images courtesy Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission