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White Bass, Smallmouth Kick-off New Record Category
AUSTIN, Texas – Killeen children’s pastor Bob Maindelle was jigging for white bass under a flock of seagulls and terns at Stillhouse Hollow Lake Thurs., Jan. 26, when he stuck the fish that would become the first state record in the new “length-only” catch and release category.
The 15.06-inch sandy falls short of the current lake record, a 17.625-inch fish Maindelle caught in January 2005.
“It was kind of a dreary, gray morning, and it happened to be one of those ‘right place at the right time’ things,” Maindelle said.
Maindelle logs every fish he catches — between 8,500 and 11,500 each year since the early 1990s — and white bass make up the majority of those fish. He said he keeps perhaps a dozen to eat each year.
“White bass are sporty on light gear,” he said. “You have to be excellent on electronics to do well, and because they’re a deep-water fish, you get away from the shore-slapping crowd. They’re an easy fish to put kids onto and catch.”
Maindelle said he knew about the new catch-and-release state record category — he holds the current state record for the diminutive log perch, and water body records for white bass on Lakes Belton and Waco, in addition to Stillhouse Hollow, — and said the new category was overdue.
“It’s been kind of a shame that in order to get a record qualified, you had to keep the fish and kill it,” he said. “This is a great option, very conservation-minded.”
Just three days after Maindelle’s catch, an Oklahoma resident who also habitually releases his fish caught the second length-only record: a 22.75-inch smallmouth bass from Lake Texoma.
Jay Fuller, of Kingston, Okla., put the fish in his live well and went on the hunt for certified scales. An Oklahoma biologist put him in touch with Texas Parks and Wildlife Department fisheries biologist Bruce Hysmith in Sherman. Hysmith measured and weighed the fish before Fuller released it back into Texas waters.
The 7.06-pound smallie ties for number 10 on the Texas Top 50 list for the species, and breaks a nearly 10-year-old Lake Texoma water body record.
“I pretty much fish exclusively for smallmouth here on Texoma,” Fuller said. “It’s great — seems like it’s getting better all the time. This month and next month are really good months for your big fish. Numbers-wise, April and May are good months.”
Fuller caught the record fish on a jig in about 20 feet of water along the Eisenhower State Park shoreline.
“There are some good spots on the Oklahoma side, but I prefer the Texas water — it’s a lot clearer and rockier,” he said.
Fuller said he rarely keeps smallmouth bass; he has one on his wall that swallowed a crankbait.
“I really encourage catch and release on smallmouth,” he said. “They’re a rare fish in this area and we’re just lucky to have them.”
TPWD Angler Recognition Program coordinator Joedy Gray agreed.
“I don’t get a lot of them. Each year, I get maybe two,” Gray said. “That’s a nice fish. That’s a nice smallmouth.”
TPWD launched the length-only record category Jan. 1 for two reasons, Gray said: to promote catch-and-release fishing, and to offer anglers who were having difficulty finding certified scales an opportunity to be recognized for trophy catches.
Only the 16 freshwater and 18 saltwater species currently listed as eligible for “Big Fish” awards are eligible for catch-and-release state records.
Fish that also are weighed on scales certified not later than 30 days after the catch, but released alive, may also be submitted for the traditional state record “weight” category. Applications for either category must be submitted within 60 days of the catch.
“As soon as the word gets out, I expect to see some more applications,” Gray said. “I know a lot of kayakers are looking at it.”
For more information on the catch-and-release record category and eligible species, go to: http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/fishboat/fish/programs/fishrecords/rulescr.phtml
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