Dean Rojas knows a little about big bass. He holds the single day BASS tournament record for a five-fish limit that weighed 45 pounds, 2 ounces. That's an 8-pound average. He also set the record for a tournament at the same time, 108 pounds, 12 ounces.
What he says should carry weight when he comments on the massive largemouth bass snagged at Dixon Lake, Calif., on the first day of spring. The fish weighed 25.1 pounds on a hand-held digital scale. If accepted, it surely would eclipse the 22¼-pound largemouth bass George Washington Perry caught in 1932 at Georgia's Montgomery Lake.
But, Rojas said officials are going to have a hard time confirming the fish as a world record.
"When I heard it was snagged, I lost interest in it," said Rojas during an appearance in Bloomington recently sponsored by the Bloomington-Normal Bass Club. "As soon as I heard it was snagged and he threw it back, I didn't think it should even be considered."
You've all heard the story. Mac Weakley was fishing March 20 with his friends Mike Winn and Jed Dickerson when he foul hooked it. Thinking that fact disqualified it for further consideration for the record, he weighed it on a digital scale, photographed it and released it.
But, officials at the International Game Fish Association, one of two record-keeping organizations, said foul-hooking may not disqualify the fish. IGFA rules say fish will be disqualified only if the foul-hooking was intentional. In this case, it wasn't. The other hurdle is the fact the scale was not certified. But, the IGFA may certify a scale after the fact.
The North American Fishing Hall of Fame, the second recognized record-keeper, isn't as open-minded. If snagging is legal in California, then that would not disqualify it. But, the fish was released without anyone taking length measurements on which the hall of fame bases its catch and release records.
I agree with Rojas. I discounted it as soon as I heard it was foul-hooked. What difference does it make what the angler's intent was? If a foul-hooked fish is disqualified in one instance, it should be disqualified in the other.
It's an issue of fair chase applied to angling to me. The sport comes when an angler tricks a fish to take a lure or live bait. Take Rojas' experience, for example;
The day was Jan. 17, 2001. The place was Lake Toho, Fla. The first pre-fishing day, he scouted areas until he stumbled over a channel emptying into the lake where he saw what appeared to be huge bass beds. Later, he saw big bass there.
Without the aid of a GPS, Rojas found his way to the spot as the tournament began the next morning. He was first one there. He flipped a plastic lizard to a big bass several times before she inhaled it. Rojas kept working the area and culling fish until he had two 10-pounders, a 9, an 8 and a 7.
"Never ever give up," he told the crowd. "It was a career maker."
No one remembers he won the very next tournament at Toledo Bend. Conversation always returns to that day, he said. And, that's how talk about big bass should be.
Let me know what you think. Join the blog on the record bass at www.pantagraph.com /blogs.
What's biting returns
What's Biting, the Pantagraph's trip-tip and weekly fishing report, returns to the sports section on Friday. Keep pace with Central Illinois fishing hotspots and ideas on where to go.
Larry Dozard of larrysfishinghole.com will speak on "Planning Fishing using Lunar Times and the Effects of Weather" to the PrairieLand Anglers fishing club at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Lincoln Leisure Center in Bloomington.
Blue Ridge Backwoods Archery shop, located in;Monticello, will host a bowfishing seminar by Illinois Bowfishers tournament director;Dave Randolph at 3 p.m. Saturday. The club thinks interest in bowfishing is growing in Central Illinois as a result of Dawson Lake and;Clinton Lake both opening to bowfishing Saturday.