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MONDAY, JUNE 11, 2007
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Catch a big one for the record book

Catching a state or local record bass is something most anglers donít think about these days, as accomplishing such a feat is extremely difficult. But, with the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Wildlife and Freshwater Fishiers Divisionís new record system, putting your name in the books can be as simple as just going bass fishing.

It is called the Alabama Angler Recognition Program, for those who might want to go to outdooralabama.com to learn more about this new program.

On the evening of April 16, Gary Guthrie of Jasper put bass fishing history into motion by catching a 10-pound, 4-ounce largemouth bass from the Sipsey Creek arm of Smith Lake. With the catch, Guthrie holds the biggest largemouth bass record for Smith Lake.

If another angler were to catch a Smith Lake largemouth that weighed in at 10-5, he or she would establish and take control of the record.

Itís almost like fishing a tournament, but the winners donít receive $100,000-plus like many of the bass trails pay for a first-place finish. But sometimes recognition of a great accomplishment can be rewarding as well. Such is the case with Guthrie.

The new system established by ADCNR will accept records for 64 public lakes in Alabama. Right now, only eight of the 64 have recorded a big bass. And the categories of species can be a record itself. There can be a largemouth, spotted, smallmouth and red-eye bass record for each lake.

With 56 lakes waiting for someone to put their name in the book, setting a personal record is a lot easier now than before. ADCNR officials are using all the information from the catches to learn more
about the lakes they were caught in.

Guthrieís largemouth bass was weighed on certified scales in Limestone County. The bass was taken to the Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division District I office in Tanner, where it was verified by fisheries biologist Keith Floyd.

The fish measured 26.1 inches in length with a girth of 19 inches.

The first goal of the new program is to help promote fishing by recognizing anglers who catch large or trophy-size sportfish from Alabama waters. And yes, there is a minimum weight already in place.

If a lake doesnít have a record for largemouth bass, and you catch a 2-pounder, donít expect to receive any attention. You can go to the Web site and find out what the minimum weight has to be and what lakes have records.

The second goal provides fisheries biologists with valuable catch information for following fishery trends in the reservoirs they manage.

The third objective is to establish a system for maintaining lake records for many of Alabamaís sportfish species, including that of the black bass family.

Finally, it will allow anglers an opportunity to have their catch information compiled, analyzed and reported to
them.

Flying fishing
without a fly rod

Many anglers think you have to have a fly rod to go fly fishing, especially when willowflies are breaking out across a lake. Even a light spinning outfit will cast a fly only a few feet because the lure simply doesnít weigh enough.

The secret to fly fishing without a fly rod is to add a float to your line.

The float is heavy enough to make a long cast, and it keeps the fly on the surface if thatís the type of fly you purchased or made.

Tie on a fly and attach a float of your choice about 4 to 5 feet or less above the lure. When you jerk your rod tip to make the fly look real, you get a bonus with the splash of the float.

In a large willowfly hatch, the splash of a float isnít likely to scare the fish away. Instead, it will probably attract a few of the bigger fish. Still, donít go out and start splashing every few seconds or you will get just the opposite results.

You can use many different rod-and-reel outfits to fish this technique but I have found that a ultralight or light spinning or spincast setup makes for a fun and challenging day. We have to face it, catching a bluegill that weighs less than 1 pound on a medium/heavy bass rod doesnít make for a very exciting catch.

Still, the best way to go fly fishing is with a fly rod-and-reel outfit. Either way, catching a large stringer of bluegill will be fun and delicious at the fish fry that evening.

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Paul Stackhouse
Outdoors
Paul Stackhouse

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