Right off the bat, I’ve got to admit that I don’t know if this fish is fly caught or not.
Although the unidentified angler in the photo is wearing Simms Fishing duds, the Montana-based maker of some of the world’s best fly fishing gear.
But what I do know about this photo is this…this is one monster of a striped bass from the East Coast!
Can anybody say genuine pig?
According to the Noreast.com saltwater fishing forum, this striper was caught and released earlier this month in Maryland.
This big oinker’s weight was reportedly estimated in the 50s by the angler and his crew.
Internet chatter speculates the fish could be even larger, perhaps in the 60s or even the 70s.
I have to agree – I think this is a seriously big striped bass that could easily have weighed more than double nickels.
In fact, so ridiculously big looking is this piscatorial critter that some cyber-talk has opined that this pic was “creatively edited” in Photoshop.
After all, no striper could be that big, right?
Well, after researching existing saltwater and freshwater striped bass records and looking at a few photos, I’m not so sure.
In fact, I think this striper caught by this unnamed chap is world-class.
And maybe then some.
Why is that?
Well, first up is “Exhibit A,” the official IGFA (International Game Fish Association) all-tackle world record saltwater striped bass, a ridiculously proportioned fish in its own right.
Caught on the Vermont Ave. Jetty in Atlantic City, NJ on Sept. 21, 1982, Al McReynolds’ mega bass officially weighed 78-pounds, 8-ounces.
According to StriperSurf.com, that leviathan is said to have measured 53 inches in length, 34 1/2 inches in girth, and was estimated by biologists to have been born in 1946, putting the fish’s age at approximately 36 years of age.
Incidentally, McReynolds world record was reportedly battled for 1 hour and 40 minutes. The angler landed the fish on a five and a half-inch long Rebel black-backed silver minnow plug tied onto 20-pound premium pink Ande monofilament line.
While that record has officially stood for nearly three decades now, that doesn’t mean there hasn’t been a run or two at the throne.
According to info I found on the ArkansasStripers.com Web site, a mammoth striper that would have shattered the McReynolds’ WR catch was “caught” in Maryland in the mid-1990s.
Why didn’t it topple the existing IGFA mark?
Read for yourself: “It did not become the new IGFA record because it was caught in a net by the Maryland DNR during a research project around 1995. The striped bass was a massive 92 pounds and hangs on the wall of DNR in Annapolis, MD.”
Staying in the salt, how about fly rod records for stripers?
Beryl E. Bliss owns the all-tippet class record with a 64-pound, 8-ounce striped bass caught in late July 1973. Incidentally, that huge fish – pulled from Oregon’s Smith River – was caught on a 12-pound class tippet!
Then there is a much more recent IGFA 20-pound tippet class world record striper pulled from Virginia brine late last year on a 10-weight fly rod.
That fish – caught on a 3/0 blue/black Clouser minnow on Dec. 17, 2009 by Norfolk, VA angler Richie Keatley – was landed around piers of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel.
Keatley’s early Christmas present fish weighed 51-pounds, 5-ounces, measured 48-inches in length, and 29-inches in girth according to StripersOnline.com.
But salty stripers aren’t the only ginormous examples of Morone saxatilis.
Take the IGFA world record striped bass pulled from landlocked freshwater.
That fish was caught by Hank Ferguson in O’Neill Forebay, San Luis CA on May 7, 1992 with a weight of 67-pounds, 8-ounces.
As tremendous as Ferguson’s catch was, it barely outclasses the number two all-time sweetwater striper, a 66-pound fish also pulled from O’Neill Forebay in June 1988 by Theodore H. Furnish.
And those two giant landlocked stripers are just the ones that are officially on the books, mind you.
As big as that is, the FishSniffer.com Web site indicates that this unofficial world record freshwater striped bass – which is said to have measured 52 1/2 inches in length – apparently weighed 73-pounds the night before!
(Note: FYI, O’Neill Forebay is a 2,250-acre freshwater reservoir in Merced County and is a part of the California Aqueduct System).
But Cali is far from the only place to find big sweetwater stripers.
Excuse the Lone Star State bravado, but my home state of Texas is a premiere striped bass destination for freshwater anglers too.
For starters, there is the world-renowned Lake Texoma, an 89,000-acre reservoir where gazillions of striped bass are annually produced by way of a natural spawn (no significant numbers of stripers have been stocked in the two-state reservoir since 1974) that occurs courtesy of the lengthy Red River and Washita River watersheds that feed the lake.
While I’ve got to admit that Texoma is my home water, in my humble opinion, there is simply no better freshwater venue in America to pull ample numbers of solid-sized striped bass from, fish that are often in the five to 15-pound class.
Texoma aside, there are also some real Texas-sized linesiders in the vast state including the benchmark 53-pound striper pulled from the Brazos River in May 1999 by Ron Venerable. That fish tops the state’s “Top 50 Striped Bass” list, an impressive collection that takes a striper weighing 31-pounds, 5-ounces or more to even get on the board.
Speaking of Texas, the ArkansasStripers.com Web site mentioned above reports that a Lone Star State angler may have caught – and released – the biggest striped bass ever pulled out of any body of water.
Fresh or salt.
And that is apparently no 10-gallon tall tale either.
In October of 2005, Weatherford, TX angler Joe Mann caught the behemoth linesider near Point 7 on Lake Ouachita, a beautifully clear and deep striped bass honey-hole near Hot Springs, AR.
Fishing in a FLW-BFL Regional Championship bass tourney, the Web site reports that the angler was using a Zoom Trick Worm on a 1/0 Gamakatsu hook tied to 12-pound Maxima line.
Mann, who was not fishing in his boat, apparently did not want to impede on the boat owner’s tournament time so he opted not to take the fish in to be officially weighed.
When he later discovered exactly what it was that he had turned loose, it was a decision that he would ruefully regret.
Mann did measure the big fish however – with four witnesses and another boat watching – and then weighed it on a 50-pound scale that was in the boat.
What happened when the fish was weighed?
“(It) broke the scale in two, and fell to the deck,” says ArkansasStripers.com
With a length of 53 1/2 inches and a girth of 37 1/4 inches, later formula estimates by Arkansas Game & Fish Commission biologists indicate that the fish could have weighed between 70 and 90 pounds!
For what it’s worth, there’ s ample reason to believe such a tale.
That’s because Arkansas is without question a premiere sweetwater striped bass state in its own right.
So much so that the land of the Razorbacks boasts its own behemoth striped bass state record, a 64-pound, 8-ounce linesider pulled from the White River below Beaver Lake on April 28, 2000 by Jeff Fletcher. That fish is a top-five all-time striper among freshwater catches according to the IGFA record book.
So back to the Maryland striped bass caught earlier this month that spawned all of this linesider talk in this column.
Was it a real world-class fish?
Or a software induced striped bass silicone hoax?
You be the judge.
Me? I’m going to grab the fly rod and go striper fishing.