World-famous bass found dead
Posted 11 May 2008 - 03:01 PM
UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER
May 10, 2008
The quest for the legendary big bass is over.
The fish with a worldwide reputation as the largest bass ever hooked was found floating yesterday morning on Escondido's Dixon Lake.
The Florida-strain largemouth bass, nicknamed Dottie for a distinctive birthmark spot below her jawline, had been dead about a day.
She measured 29˝ inches long and weighed about 19 pounds. That was a far cry from the world-record 25 pounds, 1 ounce she weighed when caught – and then released – by Carlsbad angler Mac Weakley on March 20, 2006. Then she was bulging with eggs; this time she apparently died shortly after spawning.
Dottie had become an obsession for many anglers, who traveled to Escondido from as far as Japan for a chance to catch the big bass. A camera crew working for the National Geographic Channel had spent the past week filming Weakley, 35, and Jed Dickerson, 35, of Oceanside in their attempts to find and rehook Dottie.
Instead, the two were called in to identify the fish, which rests in a freezer at the Dixon Lake ranger office. The bass had the distinctive black birthmark.
“That's it – that's THE fish,” Weakley said.”
California Fish and Game officials are expected to come by Monday and take tissue samples so they can determine the fish's age, which is estimated at 15 to 17 years.
“We won't be the center of the fishing world anymore,” Escondido Mayor Lori Holt Pfeiler said. “I'm disappointed. But I'm also sorry it is dead.”
When Weakley caught the big bass in 2006, it weighed more than 25 pounds. That could have shattered the 1932 bass record of 22 pounds, 4 ounces held by George W. Perry at Montgomery Lake in Georgia – had Weakley officially submitted the catch.
He released the fish because it had been “foul-hooked” below its dorsal fin, something sure to stir up controversy. Hooking a fish somewhere other than in the mouth is not allowed if done intentionally – which Weakley maintains was not the case.
Nonetheless, the catch and accompanying photo were an Internet sensation and led to stories in news media around the world. It was one of the most popular stories ever on SignOn San Diego, The San Diego Union-Tribune's Web site. In two days, it received a quarter-million page views and continues to get about 50 a day.
Everyone from weekend anglers to fishing champions from Japan made their way to 70-acre Dixon Lake for a chance to search for Dottie and a record. In the world of bass fishing, holding the size title can bring lucrative endorsements.
Weakley and Dickerson, who hooked and released the same bass in 2003 when it was smaller, were hoping to clinch an official world record. Dickerson had fished for the big bass for the past 70 days.
The National Geographic Channel hired a camera crew to follow the pair and friend Mike Winn as they fished this week. Their story was scheduled to be aired in October on an episode of “Hooked,” a show about big fish and their human pursuers.
The trio had no luck and were wondering if Dottie was still around. Yesterday, Dickerson wrapped up at 11:30 a.m. when the wind picked up.
At 11:45 a.m., an unidentified angler found the big bass floating among weeds on the north shore, netted her and left her with the attendant at the boat dock.
Park ranger supervisor Jim Dayberry called Dickerson.
“It appeared to have died (Thursday) night,” Dayberry said. “It was in a very good state, with little decay. The fish spawned out. There were no eggs left in it.”
The camera crew recorded the dead fish.
Although their two-year pursuit would seem to have an unsuccessful conclusion, Weakley and Dickerson said they were not unhappy it was over. Finding the big bass proved that they had not killed her in 2006 and that she had lived out her natural life.
The fish could be preserved and displayed at the lake, Dayberry said.
“Her progeny will live in that lake. The next record fish will come from here,” he said. “It could come tomorrow.”
Posted 12 May 2008 - 06:38 PM
Posted 31 May 2008 - 02:26 PM
Edited by basssmaster, 31 May 2008 - 02:27 PM.
Posted 01 June 2008 - 09:45 AM
The CA. bass get big eating stocked trout. Unfair advantage perhaps?
I knew of a guy twenty years ago who had "pet largemouth and smallmouth bass" in a large four acre pond. He hand fed them they were so tame, and they were absolutely huge. He would enter them in local fishing contests at bait shops to win small prizes - or so was the story.
I still wonder why the bass stocked in Mexico have not beat that record. Better growing season there than Florida I would imagine. Although pictures keep being passed around the internet of 36 inch plus ones from there.
Posted 02 June 2008 - 05:31 PM
Posted 02 June 2008 - 05:52 PM
But today june 2 (also my birthday) is the day that George Perry caught the current world record in 1932 that 22lb 4ozer, caught on the only lure he owned... That is one of the grestest fishing stories of all time.
Edited by basssmaster, 02 June 2008 - 05:53 PM.
Posted 02 June 2008 - 06:04 PM
Heres a pic of the record smallmouth caught by David Hayes in 1955 at dale hollow lake
Record_smallmouth.jpg 3.75KB 1 downloads
bass.jpg 4.15KB 1 downloads
Posted 02 June 2008 - 08:04 PM
I don't believe thats the only picture either.
Posted 02 June 2008 - 08:10 PM
Edited by basssmaster, 02 June 2008 - 08:10 PM.
Posted 02 June 2008 - 08:20 PM
Posted 02 June 2008 - 09:53 PM
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