By Keith Sutton
Fascinating facts about the biggest, smallest, fastest, strangest, oldest, coolest and most expensive in the world of fishing.
Bass club members have always loved discussing superlatives. No matter where we are, the conversation is likely to turn to the extreme aspects of fishing. If someone says something, for example, about the biggest this or the fastest that, a wildfire of discussion almost certainly will be ignited. Conflicting opinions will add fuel to the conflagration, wagers will probably be laid, and after some burning argumentation, someone will dart off to a bookshelf (or, increasingly, to the Internet) to find the information needed to settle the dispute.
To stimulate such tasty dialogues, we present the following randomly-chosen morsels about fishing that are sure to nourish the intellect and satisfy every appetite. These tidbits may also give club members some benchmarks to shoot for.
What freshwater fish are targeted most often by U.S. anglers? A report from AnglerSurvey.com has answers that aren’t surprising. With 59.3 percent of anglers targeting it, the largemouth bass continues to be the most-sought gamefish across the country, followed by panfish (36.8%), smallmouth bass (25.3%) trout (20.1%), catfish (17.4%) and walleye (14.3%), respectively.
Biggest Record Fish
So you think that wallhanger bass you caught was big, huh? Well, it probably was for its species, but landing it was no doubt a cinch compared to landing the biggest record fish ever.
On April 21, 1959, Alfred Dean caught a 2,664-pound great white shark off the coast of south Australia. Amazingly, he subdued this monster—the heaviest record fish ever listed by the International Game Fish Association (IGFA)—in only 50 minutes on 130-pound line. Dean also caught great whites weighing 2,333 and 2,536 pounds.
Biggest Fish Ever Hooked And Landed
Here’s another giant described in Fishes and Fishing in Louisiana by James Gowanloch. In 1933, Captain Jay Gould of Hollywood, Florida captured a manta ray that measured 19 feet, 9 inches from wing-tip to wing-tip. The ray was hooked on a large shark hook on 1,200 feet of 1/2-inch rope, and when it had been subdued and towed back to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, the city’s 20-ton crane had to be used to lift the fish from the water, after the chain hoists on three smaller cranes were stripped while trying to bring it up. The manta ray’s weight was estimated at 5,500 pounds.
Oldest Fishing Record
The 22-pound, 4-ounce world-record largemouth bass caught by George Perry in Georgia’s Montgomery Lake was unmatched from June 2, 1932 until Manabu Kurita caught an equally big largemouth on July 2, 2009 in Japan’s Lake Biwa. That’s a long-standing record by anyone’s measure. But one fish record has stood almost twice as long and remains unbroken—a 4-pound, 3-ounce IGFA all-tackle record yellow perch caught in New Jersey by Dr. C.C. Abbot in May 1865, more than 145 years ago!
Dave Romeo of Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania is one of those guys who takes bass fishing to extremes. He set a Guinness World Record for the most bass caught in a single season—3,001 largemouth bass landed in just 77 days back in 1987. And after more than a quarter century counting, measuring and meticulously documenting every bass he’s caught, he achieved another Guinness record by becoming the first person ever to catch, record and release 25,000 bass in 25 years.
To celebrate, Romeo splurged and bought a new vanity license plate: 25K BASS.
Best Prize For A Record Fish
Anglers who win big-name bass tournaments can improve their financial status immensely overnight. But who would have thought you could get rich by catching a record carp?
That’s what happened to Al St. Cyr in March 2006. While fishing during the Texas Carp Challenge, he landed a 43.13-pound, state-record common carp in Austin’s Town Lake. That fish earned St. Cyr a $250,000 payday from the American Carp Society, the largest prize ever for a carp fisherman in the U.S.
Here’s another interesting carp story. In 2005, British golf pro Gary Hagues pulled an 83-pound, 8-ounce world-record mirror carp from France’s Rainbow Lake. After the fish was officially weighed, he tagged and released it. Hagues returned to Rainbow Lake in 2006 to enjoy a free vacation he won for catching the first carp. And, against all odds, on November 30, 2006, he caught the same fish again to set another world record. This time the monster carp weighed 87 pounds, 2 ounces.
A group at Florida’s Long Key Fishing Camp came up with a simple method for accurately measuring a fish’s swimming speed. A fish is hooked. It makes a run. You measure how much line the fish took off the spool in a certain number of seconds, and you can calculate the fish’s speed. The fastest fish in these speed trials, perhaps the fastest fish in the world, was a sailfish that took out 300 feet of line in three seconds, a velocity of 68 mph. That’s zero to 60 mph in 2.6 seconds!
For many years, the oldest fish on record was female European eel named Putte. She was kept in an aquarium all her adult life, and when she died at Hälsingborg Museum, Sweden in 1948, that slimy ol’ gal was reported to be 88 years old.
That record is old news, though. Commercial fishermen in the Bering Sea recently hauled in a shortraker rockfish scientists say was 157 years old. Biologists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration used growth rings in the fish’s ear bone to estimate the age of the fish that started life before the Civil War!
A tagged great white shark became the quickest recorded oceanic traveler after it swam from South Africa to Australia and back in under a year. The female shark was tagged with a data transmitter off South Africa in November 2003. The unit detached automatically and was recovered off western Australia four months later, but that wasn’t the end of the story. In August 2004, five months after the transmitter bobbed to the surface, project research scientists spotted the shark—identifiable by a pattern of notches in its dorsal fin—back in its old haunt off South Africa. It had completed a round trip of some 12,500 miles in just nine months.
Biggest Fly Rod And Reel
On June 12, 1999, Tiney Mitchell of Port Isabel, Texas, finished constructing the world’s largest fly-fishing rod and reel. The rod is a whopping 71 feet, 4.5 inches long. The reel measures 4 feet in diameter and 10 inches in width.
Biggest Wooden Fishing Lure
Most bass anglers keep their lures in tackle boxes. Ron Mirabile of New Port Richey, Florida, lugs his on a 14-foot trailer. Mirabile, a collector and carver of fishing lures, has built what may be the largest wooden lure in the world: an 8-foot-long, 200-pound torpedo called “Bassmonger,” which has two 9-inch hooks, two 2-inch glass eyes and a sleek coat of green paint with black spots.
Most Expensive Lure
Were you upset the last time you snagged and lost a $5 or $10 fishing lure? Then you might not want to fish with the Million Dollar Lure from MacDaddy Fishing Lures. This 12-inch trolling lure, designed to catch marlin, is crafted with just over 3 pounds of glimmering gold and platinum, and encrusted with 100 carats of diamonds and rubies (4,753 stones to be exact). Cost? Just as the name says—a cool $1 million.
Highest Price Paid For A Fishing Lure
Tracey Shirey, a collector from South Carolina, paid $101,200 for an 1859 copper fishing lure, a record price for an American fishing collectible at auction. The 10-inch-long saltwater lure was made by gunsmith Riley Haskell of Painesville, Ohio, in the 1850s. Its spinning, double hook was the first patented hook in the U.S.
Creepiest New Lure?
Scientists at Harvard University working with heart-muscle cells from rats have created a thin film that can twist, grip and pulse like a real piece of muscle. They hope this lifelike material may one day be used to patch disease-damaged hearts, but it may have additional applications as well, including the creation of new types of self-propelled fishing lures. Triangular sheets of the material have been used to make little “fish” that actually swim by swinging their tail from side to side, a fact that led Kit Parker, leader of the research team, to tell one interviewer the films might be used as fish bait. “It’s a lot easier to get a muscular thin film on a hook than a worm,” he said.
Coolest Bait Celebration
At Nantwich in northwestern England, the World Worm Charming Championship is held each June. This is a unique event where worms are “charmed” out of the soil by over 200 competitors from throughout the world. The record was set by Tom Shufflebotham in 1980 when he charmed 511 worms out of the ground at the first World Worm Charming Championship.
Most Consecutive Casts
So you thought you made a lot of casts during the last tournament you fished, huh? Check this out. In July 1999, Brent Olgers of Macon, Georgia established a world record for the longest period of consecutive casting. Using a Zebco 33 Classic reel, Olgers cast 6,501 times in just over 24 hours, averaging 270 casts per hour. Each cast had to be at least 45 feet in length.
Keith Sutton is the author of numerous books on fishing. Autographed copies are available on his website, www.catfishsutton.com.
Wild & Wacky Bass Facts
- According to FishBase.org, largemouth bass have been stocked in 61 different countries.
- Largemouth bass are on the list of “100 of the World’s Worst Invasive Alien Species” created by the New Zealand based Invasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG), a branch of the World Conservation Union. According to the ISSG, alien invasion is second only to habitat loss as a cause of species endangerment and extinction. And the largemouth bass is among the worst alien invaders.
- A bass nicknamed Dottie, perhaps the largest ever recorded, was caught at least twice by anglers fishing 72-acre Dixon Lake near Escondido, California. (The fish was recognizable because of a unique black mark on the underside of the right gill plate.) When Jed Dickerson caught it in 2003, it weighed 21 pounds. When Dickerson’s friend Mac Weakley caught it again in 2006, it weighed 25 pounds, 1 ounce on a hand-held digital scale, making it a potential new world record. Weakley released the bass because it was unintentionally foul-hooked, and it turned up dead in the lake two years later, never having been caught again.