Thanking the Protecting Hunting Heritage and Education Act
November 22, 2023 •iSportsman Staff
Summer 2023 was one for the record books for many water-faring enthusiasts. Despite inhibiting conditions like rain and record-breaking heat, many took advantage of what was available and hit the waterways daily to cast their reels. These three anglers’ catches will surely be amongst their lifetime achievements — it’s not every day that they get to break world fishing records.
Lea Anne Powell dazzled freshwater enthusiasts across the globe this summer when she officially broke the world record for largemouth bass reeling in a 12-pound fish. While out fishing with a Smith’s Livescope, a giant largemouth homed in on Lea’s soft plastic lure, stunning her in the process.
“It was hooked 45 feet from the boat and 15 feet down on a 10-pound line with a spinning rod,” Lea told Outdoor Life. “Which, if anybody knows fishing at all, that’s a very hectic situation.”
Demonstrating her expert ability, Lea took control of the chaotic scene and after a 10-minute battle boated the bass. Lea, who tournament fishes herself, broke personal records with it. And globally, according to the IGFA record books, it broke the previous world record for women’s line-class at 9-bounds, 1-ounces.
When Donald Arthur, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s assistant area manager, went to weigh a rockfish he thought he knew what he was going to find. After all, he had done his thesis on rockfish and knew a thing or two about the species; however, what this one was unlike anything he had imagined.
“When I first laid eyes on it, it was bigger than my torso and legs combined,” Donald told Alaska News Source. “It was the largest rockfish I’ve seen in my 11-year career with Fish and Game.”
Keith Degraff, an outfitter who frequents the Prince William sound, caught the rockfish, despite not actually intending to — he was originally hoping for black cod. So, when the 42.4-pound rockfish began pulling on his line submersed over 1,000 feet underwater Keith thought it was a halibut.
Keith said, “I couldn’t get the fish’s head over the side of the boat — it was massive.”
Keith’s catch was probably closer to 50-pounds at the time of the catch but lost some weight as Keith bled the fish and put it on ice before it he could weigh it.
“The sportsman in me prevailed — I wasn’t willing to risk the quality of meat for sake of my name on a piece of paper somewhere,” Keith said. “The fish is in my freezer, and I will say the cheeks were delicious.”
Professionals are in the process of officially aging Keith’s catch with an otolith, or ear bone, with current estimates landing it anywhere from 60 to 120 years old.
Sometimes the best day of your life occurs through happenstance by being in the right place at the right time. Owen Schaad’s day unfolded just like that: Right off the bat it was an unusually good day for fishing — and with his 21st catch of the day Owen just happened to break the Wyoming state record with his 31-inch, 11.93-pound tiger trout.
“It was probably the most exciting day of my life,” Owen told the Wyoming Game & Fish Department.
The prior state record for tiger trout had been in place for 11 years and, given the time it takes for a fish to grow to record breaking proportions, it’s safe to say it will be a while before anyone comes for Owen’s crown. Owen decided to keep some techniques a secret, and only shared that he used “a big rod and a heavy line” to reel in his trophy tiger trout.
Hopefully your summer was equally remarkable in its own way, or at the very least it left you itching to break some fishing records this fall season.