Vol 37 | Num 4 | May 23, 2012
Article by Capt. Brian Wazlavek
On Saturday, May 12th, The “LIL’ ANGLER II” departed Lewes, DE in search of black drum. It was a good night with several big boomers ending up in the cooler, led by Bobbi Jo Dean’s 54.75 pounder. Little did we know that fish wouldn’t be the largest of the night.
As darkness sets in, we’re surrounded by other boats and nothing is happening. Suddenly, Colby Hastings of Seaford, DE sees a slight tap on a rod, picks it up and fish on! The fish is fighting hard, and running into the current. Colby is a novice to fishing, but is doing a fantastic job fighting the fish. To this point, the drum has done nothing spectacular, and our shields are down. Just then, the fish makes another run that keeps going. The rods are loaded with 30 lb. braid with a little mono underneath. In the heat of battling this drum, the comment is made that the reel was now down to the mono backer. The mate tells Colby to tighten the drag slightly, but Colby did not understand, so the mate adjusts the drag. It is this innocent, yet critical motion that will burn us in the end and we don’t even know it. The battle continues with several more drag adjustments, by both the mate and myself. The fish gets closer to the boat and breaks the surface, and making John’s previous 54.75 pounder look like a minnow. At this point, I realize we could be the 'bug.' The fish is finally landed. It is huge.
The fish measures 122 centimeters, only one centimeter longer than the current world record held by Dr. Julie Ball of Virginia. To officially retire an old record, the new fish must measure 2 centimeters greater or it is considered a tie. In our case, the fish did not qualify for a tie because someone other than the angler touched the reel, breaking IGFA regulations.
As luck would have it our trip a few days later would have similar excitement, but with a differenct ending.
The day started out with the “LIL’ ANGLER II” departing her berth at Anglers Marina loaded with fresh surf clams from Lewes Harbour Marina. The 3:40 PM departure was a little later than I wanted but it all worked out well.
We arrived off Slaughter Beach and surprise, there were three boats already there and one was almost right on the spot where we caught our fish on Saturday night. We switched to Plan B, fishing a little further north in about 16 feet of water right along a steep drop off. Clams were shucked and lines were set. Fishing today was with a purpose, redemption from Saturday night. With me were Seth Hastings of Seaford DE, his brother Colby, John Meredith of Lincoln DE, and the Mate Jonathan Masten of Milford DE. All fished with me on Saturday when we almost set an IGFA record. After Saturday, everyone on board the “LIL’ ANGLER II” understood all the IGFA rules for an All Tackle Length Live Release. The rules were reviewed again anyway.
The first hook up came about an hour after settling in, and was a clearnose skate caught by John. Seth than added a smooth dogfish.
A short time later, John sees something playing with the bait, and reels down. Fish on! After a few minutes of fighting the fish with a little give and take, John lands a 34 inch black drum. Not the size we wanted, but the right species. In the cooler it goes. The current slacks up and begins to ebb. The boat began to swing and it was time to move and reposition.
The “LIL’ ANGLER II” is re-anchored and riding tight on the anchor line. After about 45 minutes, the boat in front of us hooks up and lands a puppy. The fish are booming all around us and the fish finder is lit up with fish. The current is picking up and it’s Colby’s turn to hook up and land a 26 pounder. In the box it goes. It seemed like keeping whole fresh bait on the rods was impossible. All the rods were showing signs of very light nibbles. Seth finally gets a hook in one, and after a short fight, it’s brought aboard the boat, pictures are taken and into the cooler goes the boomer. This fish is 40-inches. John, Colby and Seth all have a fish on ice. Now it’s time to get serious.
It’s 10:05 PM, and Colby picks up a rod and feeds a little line to the fish at the other end. He reels down tight and the fish is on. The fish takes line, Colby gains it back, and this back and forth lasts for 25 minutes. Everyone remembers Saturday night, and careful attention is paid to the IGFA angling rules. Colby gets the fish to the side of the boat and it wants nothing to do with us and our net. After some time, mate Jonathan Masten nets the beast and lifts it over the side. There is no doubt that this is the drum we wanted. The fish is quickly placed on the IGFA ruler and it comes in at 124 cm. No tie tonight since this fish beats Dr. Julie Ball’s fish by 3 centimeters, one more than needed. Photos were taken in accordance with the IGFA standards, and the magnificent fish is released. Handshakes and congratulations all around.
We fished another 30 minutes and called it a night knowing it would be an early morning with paperwork to be done. Thursday morning the anglers and crew gathered at Lewes Harbour Marina to get last night’s bounty cleaned, and for Colby and I to complete the application for IGFA record consideration. The paperwork was completed, notarized, and the entire package was delivered to the U.S. Postal Service. It is now over except for waiting to hear from the IGFA.