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A Natural Selection ? Of Man and Angling Records


Jerry A

As lifelong angler I have fished for most freshwater fish and a few saltwater as the opportunity presented itself. Depending upon where I have anchored my pursuit was most fervent for the most abundant species. Now living in the Southeastern US I, like millions of others, focus upon the Black Bass. Were I living elsewhere I could just as easily be an ardent advocate for Carp, Catfish, Perch, Pike, Trout, Walleye or Zander. Catching the largest, insert your fish here, always appealed to me naturally because I have three brothers and competition was expected. We?d keep annals among ourselves and to this day I feel that is the real measure of an angler, simply knowing yourself, which you are able to compare to another as well as where you?ve been and where want to be. So my piscatorial pursuit is a personal one.

Wels Catfish

A couple of months ago I recall watching a National Geographic TV show called Monster Fish. Its Host Zeb Hogan was interviewing a German fisheries biologist named Roland Lorkowsky. In the interview Mr. Lorkowsky openly admitted to transporting Wels Catfish and introducing them into the Ebro in Spain, circa 1974. This isn?t the time or platform to debate the rights or wrongs. Save that for another day. We are more interested in big fish at this point in time. The same story is told by William R. Snyder, Special to The Wall Street Journal, in his article entitled "Spain's Ebro River Is Big Catfish Country". By either account Mr. Lorkowsky admitted that his original intent was trying to help boost recreational opportunities in the area. What this fisheries biologist should have realized was the extreme impact a non-native introduction into the Ebro ecosystem could have. Since then he has also introduced Zander, Carp and other species and the toll has been a loss of natives in favor of the transplants. On the flip side the Wels Catfish is now a prized monster in the Ebro and the Carp are apparently a sustaining food source.

Spotted Bass

Back in the States I have lived in metro Atlanta since the mid-seventies my choice came as expected. My local lake is abundantly blessed with the Spotted Bass. They inhabit deeper haunts of Lake Sidney Lanier, a clear water reservoir that delivers much of Atlanta with its water supply. It is purely coincidence that in 1974 the spotted bass, as a non-native species, were being stocked in clear water reservoirs in California. Come May 20, 1985 while fishing one summer night Mr. Patrick Bankston caught a spotted bass that weighed 8 pounds and one half ounce. At the time this was not the World Record because two larger had been caught in the 1970?s in Lewis Smith Lake in Alabama.

No matter how badly the natural Californian wants to dispel non-native species the Spotted Bass is one they hold near and dear, for the sake of fame and fortune. In 1987 the stocked fish out west were starting to gain notoriety when one surpassed the 9 pound mark. All subsequent records were in California and the record itself had grown to 10.25 pounds. Two weeks ago a 10.48 pound Spotted Bass was caught during a tournament in California. It is almost certain that this fish too will be recognized as a World Record. By comparison the deep California lakes have trout or small salmon that the bass use as easy forage. There were trout in Lake Lanier prior to 1985 but there are no longer. Instead the new bass candy here is an illegally introduced Blueback Herring. One of my local confidants, whom shall remain nameless, states unequivocally that there are Spots in Lanier bigger (than that 10.48 pound Spotted Bass caught two weeks ago in California) so my hope remains.

Brown Trout

Changing gears let us pause to compare three records for Brown Trout. A year ago a Brown Trout was caught in New Zealand of magnanimous proportions, 42 pounds and one ounce. Even though angler Otwin Kandolf openly admitted he was fishing near a salmon farm where the trout feed on the effluent pellets beneath the nets the IGFA certified this fish as a World Record. This salmon farm is on the Ohau B Hydro Canal in New Zealand and it is known locally that a large free roaming farm fed trout can be caught as angler Otwin Kandolf did. The dual records it beat were a pair from Lake Michigan that were 41.8-pound and 41.7-pound fish caught in 2010 and 2009 respectively. Now Lake Michigan does not have salmon farms with pellets floating in the current but it has changed over the recent years due to the introduction of Zebra Mussel and Gobi. It is predicted that there will be one or two more years of catching really nice trout in Lake Michigan before the population collapses. So they still have a chance to take the record back.

Largemouth Bass

On July 2, 2009 Japanese angler Manabu Kurita caught a 22-pound, 4.97-ounce largemouth bass from Japan's Lake Biwa. Later it was decided, by the IGFA, that this fish tied George Perry's bass nearly 1 ounce lighter caught more than 77 years ago in South Georgia, USA. I bring this forward to build on the fact that the largemouth bass is one of the sportfish most actively sought by freshwater anglers and because of this the largemouth bass has been widely distributed beyond its original boundaries. Now a comparison of these two fish has been made time and again. One came in a very rural setting during the Great Depression where a 19 year old man was simply looking for food to put on the table for his family. He said that the only reason he went fishing was that it was too wet to plow the fields. This oxbow on the Ocmulgee River in 1932 is now Montgomery Lake in Telfair County, GA. While investigating the other I have noticed a reference to masu salmon or the Biwa trout which is like the Atlantic Salmon in freshwater. An invasive predator combined with a native high protein food source like a small trout or salmon is beginning to sound like a pattern.

For the record a 25 pound Largemouth Bass was caught in southern California in 2006. It was in Dixon Lake near Escondido, California, it was unintentionally foul hooked so the angler, Mr. Mac Weakley, decided not to pursue the record but released the fish unharmed back into the water. Mr. Weakley and a group of guys had been after this fish for so long they had nicknamed her Dottie. On May 8, 2008, Dottie was found floating and even after death she still weighed 19 pounds. Bassmaster Magazine did a couple of articles on this fish. One in particular issue a guest writer put it like this, "...Steve Pagliughi, a consulting fisheries biologist. Writing in the September/October issue of Bassmaster Magazine, he explained how a bass, nicknamed ?Dottie,? grew to world-record proportions -- 25.10 pounds -- before it died in 2008." He went on to say that, ?Take trout out of the equation, and there?s no doubt this fish would not have weighed anywhere near 25 pounds,? he said. ?Lake Dixon has been stocked for many years with large numbers of hatchery trout . . . ?Trout have high levels of lipids and protein when compared to more traditional prey.?" Source: http://www.bassmaster.com/news/big-old-bass

In the latest issue of Bassmaster Magazine, April 2014, there is an article that asks the question can a 23 pound Largemouth Bass Record be grown? While others have attempted to create a record sized Largemouth Bass through other means a Dr. Gary Schwarz has concluded that rather than genetics it is the ample food source that will do it. He has built a consortium which is in the process of doing just that. In a sterile body of water stocked with freshwater prawn as protein rich forage. He has taken the approach that using Florida strain Largemouth the genetics are intact, like the case of the Brown Trout above, and all it needs is the proper care and feeding. I laud the omissions the Bassmaster Magazine article makes. First off they never state that Dr. Gary Schwarz once had a residency in Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery. So he is a doctor of reconstructive human surgery ? not biology as the author would lead us to believe. The author goes through great lengths to tout the work Dr. Schwarz once did with deer and managed food plots. Basically he?s a tell me you can?t do it and I?ll show you how native Texan for as far as I can tell. I am not knocking his approach I am suggesting that at the point that he or one of his customers catches the Holy Grail 23 pound Largemouth Bass it will be some fun to watch the outcry of many as to exactly how the process was accomplished.