A professional angler in California may have caught the world’s largest spotted bass, but the record may have quite literally slipped through his fingers.
Paul Bailey was fishing with Matt Newman in an unnamed California lake recently when he caught a large 11-pound, four-ounce spotted bass. Since the two anglers were filming a promo for the show Stoked on Fishing, the fight with the possible-record fish was caught entirely on tape.
Unfortunately for the pair, everything went downhill after that. Shortly after the fish was weighed and the records consulted, the anglers made a call to the state Department of Fish and Wildlife to get the bass certified. Newman and Bailey later told Wired2Fish that wildlife officials were unable to send anyone out to investigate their catch. When the anglers offered to drive the fish to a Fish and Wildlife office, the department said that was impossible. After several hours of exploring every option available to them, Newman and Bailey decided to release the bass before it became too stressed.
“We didn’t want to kill the fish and wait until tomorrow to for someone to weigh it,” Newman said. “We were so stoked to have caught the fish on film, including weighing it on three seperate scales. So we decided to let it go and hope for the best. We’re not sure what will happen from here, but we’re still stoked.”
If the weight of 11 pounds and four ounces was accurate, Bailey’s bass would have exceeded both the current California state record and the world record recognized by the International Game Fish Association (IGFA). California’s record was broken earlier this year with a 10.38-pound fish from New Bullards Bar Reservoir, a very popular place for spotted bass fishing. The current world record belongs to a 10.48-pound spotted bass from California’s New Melones Reservoir that was caught in 2014 by Keith Bryan, the president of Powell Rods. At the time, Bryan said that he expected his own record to be broken soon due to the popularity—and mammoth size—of spotted bass in his state.
“As great a spotted bass fishery as the state of California has become, I’m certain that this record will fall again soon,” he said. “But, to have held this record for even one day is a dream, and an accomplishment that any angler should be proud of; it is something that I can say for the rest of my life, that I caught a World Record spotted bass. This has truly been a dream come true.”
For Bailey, this accomplishment may remain an unofficial world record. To qualify under IGFA rules, the fish must be weighed on a certified scale with witnesses. Neither Bailey or Newman confirmed whether any of the scales they used were certified.
The rule may be easy to remember, but it can be difficult to track down a certified scale depending on where you are. Earlier this year a tournament angler fishing in Bullards Bar Reservoir left the competition and drove two hours away before he could weigh his 11-pound, 3.2-ounce spotted bass. That fish is currently under consideration by IGFA for the world record.
Stoked on Fishing will air footage of Bailey’s catch in February.
Image from Instagram