A 73-pound striped bass, caught on January 23rd by Frederick Barnes of Chesapeake, has been certified as the new Virginia state record by the Virginia Saltwater Fishing Tournament, as it easily eclipsed the existing record of 68 pounds, 1 ounce.
Barnes made the record-setting catch in the Atlantic Ocean, about one-half mile north of the 4A buoy, which is located north of Rudee Inlet and off Fishermen's Island, while fishing with Captain Pat Foster aboard the Country Girl, and the boats' owner, Kenny Finck. The trophy striper hit a red and white Stretch 30, trolled from a Penn rod and reel, spooled with 50-pound test mono of unknown manufacture, according to the Captain. The group had landed and kept a pair of 20-pound class striped bass and released several smaller fish, when the Captain spotted bird activity at a distance. The Captain altered course and sped up to about 5 knots. The mate, Adrian Colapret, was in the process of bringing in the lines when the huge striper hit a rod still in its holder. Barnes grabbed the rod but nothing about the 10-minute fight of the fish prepared the crew for the first site of the striper. "Its head was huge, that was the first thing I noticed," said Barnes, whose earlier thought was, "it's just another 40-pounder." Colapret leadered the fish and a discussion of how much the fish might weigh ensued as it lay on the deck. All agreed the fish had to be over 50 pounds. A quick measurement of the fish and the crew was now thinking they had landed a 60-pounder. It was just 11:00 AM and the group continued to fish for a brief time but decided to head back to Rudee Inlet as they became more curious of the weight of the fish.
Tournament Director Lewis Gillingham viewed the official weigh-in at the Virginia Beach Fishing Center by its weighmaster, John Crowling. "Every fin was perfect, every scale was in place and the fish just glowed. The fish was big from its head to its tail. It didn't just have a big stomach," noted Gillingham. In fact, when the taxidermist finished his work days later, a gut analysis revealed the fish's stomach was empty. "To put this catch in perspective, at 73 pounds, this huge striper is one of only half-a-dozen or less striped bass weighing 70 pounds or more ever documented landed on recreational rod and reel along the entire Atlantic Coast," added Gillingham.
The 73-pound, record-setting striper measured 52 inches in length and had a girth of 31-1/2 inches. The prior state record of 68 pounds, 1 ounce was caught in the Atlantic Ocean just south of Rudee Inlet by Clay T. Armstrong on March 4, 2006. The current International Game Fish Association (IGFA) All-Tackle World Record striped bass, caught in 1982 by Al Reynolds from the beach at Atlantic City, NJ, stands at 78-1/2 pounds.
For more information, contact Lewis S. Gillingham, Virginia Saltwater Fishing Tournament, 968 S. Oriole Drive, Virginia Beach, VA 23451, (757) 491-5160, email@example.com