Originally Posted by striperjim
Oneil Forebay San Luis reservoir
Hank Ferguson set the world landlocked striped bass all tackle record of 67 lb. 8 oz.
O'Neill Forebay, the forebay of the main reservoir, in 1992
Whopper of a fish, but is it a record?
By Marek Warszawski - Fresno Bee
August 14, 2008
FRESNO – Frank Ualat knew there had to be a giant fish on the end of his line.
But a potential state record? It's the stuff of dreams.
Down to his last worm after an all-day session Aug. 5 at O'Neill Forebay outside Los Banos, Ualat caught a 70-pound, 6-ounce striped bass that is generating tremendous buzz in fishing circles.
"I was about to pack up and go home," the Gilroy resident said Tuesday. "Good thing I didn't."
After a tense 20-minute battle, Ualat landed the striper with the help of two friends who pushed the giant fish toward shore once it reached knee-deep water.
"A big crowd gathered around, but I didn't even notice because I was in complete shock," Ualat said. "It took two people to lift it out of the water."
Ualat and his friends drove to a nearby Wal-Mart, where they purchased ice and a 120-quart cooler, the largest the store had in stock. But the fish – 52 1/2 inches long with a 36-inch girth – still didn't fit. Its tail stuck out.
When he got home, Ualat stored the fish overnight in his bathtub packed in ice.
"It was like a human laying down there," he said.
Next morning, Ualat drove to Coyote Bait & Tackle in the small town of Coyote, where employees weighed the fish on the store's Shimano spring scale. The scale was not certified, meaning it had not previously been tested to ensure accuracy.
"I've never seen a fish that big," said Teri Bradford, the store's co-owner. "Even the pictures don't do it justice."
After taking more pictures and video of the fish, Ualat said he went looking for a certified scale, but couldn't find one. Tired and unsure what to do next with his prized catch, he took it home and did what he typically does to his fish: Ualat cut it up, ate some of it and handed out fillets to his friends and neighbors.
"I kind of regret it now," said Ualat, who has been a regular at O'Neill Forebay since 1987. "I ended up talking to Fish and Game, and they gave me a form to fill out."
The decision to cut up the fish may cost Ualat a chance at an official state record.
Hank Ferguson of Merced owns the longstanding striped bass state record. His 67-pound, 8-ounce fish, also taken from O'Neill Forebay, was caught May 7, 1992.
Bradford said she planned to ship her store's scale to Florida so it could be certified by the International Game Fish Association, the nonprofit organization that maintains a database of fishing records in all species.
But even if the scale used to weigh Ualat's striper receives IGFA certification, the fish still might not be declared a state record by the California Department of Fish and Game.
According to the Department of Fish and Game's Web site, all potential state records must be examined by a department employee. Ualat's fish was not.
The IGFA, on the other hand, does not require a physical examination as part of its criteria to determine freshwater all-tackle world records, Chief Operating Officer Mike Myatt said.
"This is a significant catch, no doubt about it," Myatt said. "I wish (Ualat) luck, and I'm anxious to see his application."
Ualat caught his fish with 50-pound test PowerPro braided line. He used an 11-foot G. Loomis Surf Series spinning rod equipped with a Team Daiwa Advantage 4000 reel.
"I don't know if the record is going to go through or not," Ualat said, "but it sure is a great story."