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“There is something heroic, yet ironic about the search for enormity in what is found—and maybe even lost—in fishing, in love, and in life.”
Castaic Lake World-Record Bass
I made a long cast and let the jig sink in free spool for about 35 to 40 seconds. I hopped it gingerly a few times and felt it go lifeless. A fish had picked it up and was swimming toward me. I set the hook hard as I reeled in the slack. Luckily, Brian had turned down the drag enough to compensate for my eagerness to hook—as if we were in Florida with 20-pound test line among water lilies.
The fish was a brute, and I held the rod high and let her play out. She stayed in deep water, swimming back and forth. No antics under the boat, and no brush piles nearby.
Brian was calm and didn’t say anything at first. He readied the net. Only then did he tell me, “Start pumping her in.”
I lifted up the rod and reeled down the slack, slowly and gently about 10 times before we could see the fish about 15 feet down. “Oh my God,” Brian said.
The fish pulled out the drag for a short run. Then I continued directing her toward the net.
“Holy crap,” Brian said. I knew the fish was enormous when he said that. I was feeling a little shaky. “Just a couple more,” he said.
The fish went for a short run to the side, but I steered her back to the middle of the boat where Brian stood ready with his body over the side with the net.
One quick rush, maybe too eager, and Brian had it. Before he could even lift the fish, which barely fit in the net, the bass rammed its head against the net and came alive in a frantic frenzy. The sheer strength of it about pulled the net out of Brian’s hand, throwing off his center of gravity. This allowed the rim of the net to turn to the side enough for the world-record bass to break the 10-pound test line like a one-pound tippet.
“Oh my God, I’m gonna be sick!” Brian screamed across the lake.
I was shaking so hard that I still hadn’t said anything. Finally I mustered a “How big was she?”
“A world record—that’s what. Twenty-five and some change, easy.”
Copyright 2012 Jason Covington
U.S. Library of Congress