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Record Catch and Release Striped Bass – Does it really count?

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Alex Foster holding his potential world record catch and release striped bass, Thanks to Chris’ Bait and Tackle.

Catch and Release World Record

The striped bass season ended at midnight on December 31 in the State of Virginia, but a West Virginia angler managed to catch and release a potential world record striped bass. With the likelihood of the minimum size of bass now being limited to 35-inches, these “Catch and Release World Records” will become more common, maybe too common in this day of social media and attention-grabbing.

Alex Foster has caught and released what is likely to be an International Game Fish Association’s Catch and Release World Record for a striped bass he caught and released off Cape Charles. Foster was fishing with Sho-Nuff Sportsfishing. Charters. The fish measured 48.03 inches long, five centimeters longer than the current record and good enough to win him a release award from the Virginia Salt Water Fishing tournament.
Call me a pessimist . . .
but as a person that ran The Triple Crown of Fishing, from Rhode Island to New Jersey for 5 years in a row, I can say with authority that sadly, anglers cheat. A year didn’t go by without some type of controversy centered around cheating. It was profitable for us and the industry as excitement and participation increased. But the constant BS forced me to say screw it, and we shut them down.

Now I’m not calling him a cheater by any means, and I know the guy that he beat out by 5 centimeters. Let’s face it folk’s, being recognized by the IGFA for any kind of world record will entice the few cheats out there to figure a way to beat the system. I somberly predict that these Catch and Release IGFA records will be broken annually – forever!

First of all, it’s a 48-inch fish that registered 58 pounds on a boga. Now that is a big bass, bigger than anything I’ve caught. But the lure of recognition in fishing means too much to some.
Here are a few examples of to what extent anglers will go to win.
Terry Long was indicted in Texas for cheating. But the worst one of all is in the video below showing the World Famous "Big Bass King" Mike Long – no relation I think? – being about as low as you can go. Watching this guy snag 10-pound plus spawners and then take selfies literally turns my stomach. Here’s a guy that won over $150K cheating while fishing the bass circuit. He was found to be snagging big bass on beds. All the while he was taking credit and basking in the glory as the Big Bass King. There’s a great article on it at www.sdfish.com.

So I ask does an IGFA Catch and Release World Record actually mean anything when we have cheating anglers among us?

Hello Anglers! I started in the sportfishing business, with Nor'east Saltwater, a free weekly magazine, with the hottest fishing report found anywher...
First George, I had to correct your typo, pardon my editing...

Second, no matter what criteria are used, if there's money involved, there will be cheating, doesn't matter if it's a fishing or a bocce tournament. Before tackle manufacturers offered large cash rewards for IGFA record fish, there were few, if any scandals involved with records, it was all a matter of personal pride and accomplishment.

Will tournament's decide that without dead fish to weigh & measure, there's no way to limit the cheating and just forget it? I hope so, who needs them? Unfortunately they're a homage to the past, "kill 'em all" mentality and need to become more respective of the resource.

At this point, pictures of fishers with Cheshire cat smiles holding a prize fish will be the lasting trophy that most of us will treasure. I'm pretty sure that Alex Foster is still tickled pink about his catch.
Thanks for the edit (y). Tournaments contribute a lot to the local economy and I believe that Major League Fishing catch and release type tourneys should be applied to saltwater fisheries. That is until there are apps that can confirm the size and weight of a fish. Which actually isn't that far away.
Agree on catch release salt water tourneys, which is a great idea if you must have a tournament. As you can tell, I've never been a fan of tournaments. I'm just not a fan of fishing being a media event; nothing runs the solitude and tranquility of fishing like an army of weekend warriors running about trying to catch the big one. There's a scene in "Jaws" which far better proves my point than any words I can muster.

However, your original question asked about "cheating" on length claims, and as long as it's a very easy cheat, there will always be a cloud of uncertainty involved. If you think running a weigh-in tournament was difficult, measure and release tournaments will make your early concerns pale in comparison.

What will you do:
  • Put "official" measurers along the beaches and every boat?

  • Limit the area fished so you don't need to have an army of referees?

  • Go with anglers' measurements, but insist on a photo with an "official" marker so the size can be verified? Great idea, but anyone with even basic Photoshop skills can "fix" this very quickly.

  • Plead with ASFMC to allow fish to be "landed" in live wells so you can have a good 'ole boy official weigh in with Bubba, Billy Bob and Ray Bob like them Bass Master Tournaments?
The list could go on and on. I'm thinking smart men like you will run like hell this coming year when you're asked to run a measure and release tournament...

I'm not a big believer in those live well/striper tubes. I equate those to a Livewell on a bassboat. I have seen a few of those Bassmaster tournament weigh-ins and when they leave there are more dead fish than you can imagine. Floating largemouth and smallmouth everywhere. The MLF tourneys catch weigh and release at the boat tourney has much higher survival weight and it's exciting to have up to date standings.

I can envision an app, that's attached to a certified scale that will weigh, confirm the weight, send the location and time of the fish caught, that is then safely released. Those weights would then be available live to other anglers in real-time avoiding the need to weigh all of the fish as they will see the weight they're trying to beat.

We all know that the last thing we want to hear on the run back is - Did you even catch one today? I never hear that ;)
G