For anyone who has caught a benchmark 10 pounder, you darn well know that 25 pounds (or there abouts) is almost unworldly by comparison.
But frankly, there have been other fish in the past and there will likely be many more in the future that exceed 22 and change. And when you think about it, California—not Texas or Florida—will produce more of these behemoths than anywhere else on the globe.
Paul Duclos, I suspect, had a fish that easily exceeded the Perry standard. Unfortunately, as an apparent card-carrying PETA member, he mistakenly thought that the hallowed world record would stand the test of time on a bathroom scale.
But, even though the principles in this latest catch have a track record for big fish in the Poway park pond where no private boats are allowed, we see yet another episode of curious judgment in the capturing, recording and reporting of a potential world record.
Stories are rampant on the things leading up to and including Monday’s catch and I wish my attorney would let me put it all in front of you. On the other hand, this threesome involved in the catch, Mac Weakley, Jed Dickerson and Mike Winn (not Mike Long as some have confused), remind me of the joke, “How many Mormons does it take to screw in a light bulb?” (The answer includes enough to offer prayers, lead the music, bring refreshments, and finally, one to turn the bulb.)
And yet, Weakley, Dickerson and Winn, after some alleged debate with witnesses and supposed calls to the trio’s attorney, ended up with some video—presumably not showing the fish snagged on a white jig—some catch photos now widely distributed and admittedly, limited documentation of the fish's size and weight. And thus the bass was sent packing—perhaps for the trio to attempt another bite at the apple should the monster stay locked on the bed.
But unlike some UFO sightings enhanced by Photoshop, you would have to agree that this particular catch is not of someone long-arming a 17 pounder in front of the camera. If we thought the Duclos fish could create “reasonable doubt,” Weakley’s bass looks like it would chase the NorCal pretender right out of the pond.
But as I ponder this pivotal moment in history, I try and put myself in the shoes of these "anglers on the brink." I guess I’m old-fashioned, but if I see my bait disappear near a nest with my single hook lure and my every intention of a “fair catch,” I do a couple of things for sure. I swing and get it in the boat. I get the catch fully documented. And if someone else wants a photo, let’s get it done—though quickly.
Furthermore, with no PETA membership here, I say to myself, “I’ve foul-hooked how many fish in the last 35 years?” Am I feeling that bad now (assuming no malicious intent) that it happened this week on the Mother of all Largemouths?
Do I really need the IGFA to certify my fish as the world record? Would not Bass Pro Shops or some other entrepreneurial enterprise (with proper DFG transport permits, of course) have more than a casual interest in my catch and me? Would, at least, some of the public ultimately be willing to accept my name as proper next to the record?
Sure, there’s a whole cadre of fishermen out there who would be outraged and highly vocal on the matter. But then, I’ve got to figure, I’ve got a 50-50 shot at bass fishing immortality. It might turn out like it has for Pete Rose. On the other hand, I might survive like Barry Bonds.
Remember, a whole jury acquitted OJ.