2003 is shaping up as the year of the big bass. Last year John Ross won the BBRC $25k prize with a 17-0 from LMV. Mike Long had an 18.1 from Poway, but other than that there were not a lot of huge fish caught. This year the doors are being blown off!
Here's a rundown of just the fish over 18lbs that have been reported:
Jed Dickerson - May 31, 2003 - Dixon - 21lbs 11oz
ESPN Article | San Diego Union Tribune Article | OC Register Article
Mac Weakly - May 23, 2003 - Dixon - 19lbs 7oz
Pic on OC Register
Kazuya Shimada - Lake Ikehara, Japan - 19.4lbs
BBRC Article | Pic on Forum
Rod Martin - Don Pedro - 18.9lbs
Pic on NCBF
Fish Chris Wolfgram - April 10, 2003 - Rancho Seco - 18.4lbs
Story on Trophybassonly.com
Rob Belloni - May 3, 2003 - San Pablo - 18.0lbs
Story on Trophy Forum
So it's half way through the year and at least 6 bass over 18lbs have been caught in 2003! Now here is the even more amazing part ... Every single one of these bass was caught and released! What a testament to the anglers who caught these bass. The other amazing part is that all of these bass were sight fish and caught by serious fisherman. It's easy to sit back and think about it and wonder, what if all of these fish had just jumped off and spit the hook? The bigger they are, the better they are at getting away, but amazingly all of these giant female bass got their picture taken and were released back to the lake. Truly awesome.
So all of these big catches have got the pot a-stirring on all of the big bass fishing forums. Lots of talk about the world record, what do if you caught the world record, the benefits of catch and release, and of course the fact that anglers and media who witnessed both Mike Long's 20-12 on April 27, 2001 and Jed Dickerson's 21-11 on May 31, 2003 believe very strongly with "99.9%" certainty that these bass are one and the same. Whatever your opinion on these topics is, the good news story here is that any bass fisherman out there who keeps up on current happening in bass fishing is going to be giving some thought to all of these topics. Any time the world record is nearly broken, you can't help but think of the "what if" scenarios involved, and the more guys and gals out there who think about these scenarios, the more likely it is that if someone does put the WRB in the net, they are going to have at least some clue what they are going to do with it. And if they catch a trophy bass, hopefully they will be ready for that too with a good camera and scale to record the awesome memories. Everyone knows how I feel about catch and release, so I will not preach, but I will say that I am glad that the bass fishing community will be thinking about all of these things. Like the song says, "just think about it."
In the ocean, things are heating up big time! Starting in the south, the albacore are in 1.5 day range at or around 100 miles and most likely moving closer. Yellows are scratchy around San Diego, but big bruiser yellows are mowing down baits at Catalina and people are boating some really nice 20 to 30+ yellows there. All along the coast up to Santa Barbara, the barracuda are busting bait and eating the iron. Salmon is slow in Monterey and Santa Cruz, but decent to good at points North of the bay. Inside the bay, the halibut fishing has been very good. Being a So-Cal transplant it has really surprised me at how many nice quality California Halibut get caught in the San Francisco Bay. Stripers in the bay have been fair, but it's usually around this time when they will start to show up on the beaches outside the bay to the South. One of these days I'm going to get in on that action. I've tried a few trips, but it's glory fishing to the max. The payoff though can be 20lb stripers in the huge Nor-Cal surf. Pretty cool.
Hope everyone's getting a line wet.