Kelly Bostian: Angler lands Hudson Lake record hybrid striped bass
BY KELLY BOSTIAN Outdoors
Thursday, March 07, 2013
3/07/13 at 6:03 AM
Nothing beats a Monday off work, unless of course you can take the day off and catch a record-breaking fish as well.
Chad Blackman of Disney caught a 20-pound, 8-ounce hybrid striped bass Monday below Pensacola Dam. Although it comes from the tail water, it technically is a new official lake record for Hudson Lake downstream.
The river is just about five minutes from Blackman's house. He had the day off and "just decided to run down there like any other normal day," he said. "I caught it and I was gone."
Normally, he said, he has to weed through sand bass until he can catch a hybrid below the dam. "This time I just got lucky," he said. "It was my first and only fish."
Lucky indeed. Tying off to the cable below the dam, he cast upstream a few times and hooked the hybrid, which was 31 1/4 inches long with a 27-inch girth.
The fish is in good company size-wise. The state record hybrid striped bass caught by Paul Hollister in 1997 at Altus-Lugert Lake was a 23-pound, 4-ounce fish that shared that same 27-inch girth; it was just a little longer at 33 1/2 inches. The record for Grand Lake, caught in 1995 by Melissa Knox, also had a 27-inch girth, was an inch shorter at 30.25 inches but weighed more at 22 pounds, 3.2 ounces. Blackman's fish smashes the previous record for Hudson, however, a 15.3-pound fish caught by Bruce Walker in October of last year.
Blackman said he actually passed up the chance to break his own record. On a good day last fall he caught 12-, 14- and 16-pound hybrids in the area below the dam.
"The Hudson record then was 13.9. We caught it and weighed it and it was 16.4, and it could have been a record but we really didn't want to mess with it that day. I let it go and regretted it a little bit," he said.
He regretted it as he watched Grove angler Bruce Walker's 13.9-pound fish get bested by Grove angler Jessie Vaughn's 14-pound 8-ounce hybrid. "Then Bruce took it back again with a 15.3," he said.
Walker will have to get very lucky indeed to best Blackman's monster.
"I wasn't even paying a whole lot of attention," Blackman said. "I was there maybe 15 minutes, made maybe 15 or 16 casts." Using a 12-foot spinning rod-reel combination, braided line and a float with a 6-foot leader and a jig, he cast up toward the dam and waited for a hit.
Blackman said he really just got a taste for tail-water hybrid fishing last year. "I wasn't very good at it. I'd be in the same boat with people and they would catch and I wouldn't."
He picked up on it, however, and was quickly addicted. "I caught a 46-pound blue cat at Webbers Falls, and nothing compares to the way (hybrids) fight. They're on a totally different league."
As for his monster hybrid, "she didn't fight as hard as that 16-pounder," he said. "I thought it was a big catfish." The challenge was landing the big fish on his own in his 16-foot riverboat. He hooked her upstream, so he had to pass his rod under the river cable to continue the fight. "After that I just inched it back upstream," he said. In the end he had to drop his 12-foot rod and grab his line with one hand and fishing net with the other. "It's hard to get them close to the boat with that 12-foot pole," he said.
"He didn't fit all they way in the net, but I got him up into the boat. I had an oversized jig and it still bent my hook."
Blackmon raced the fish to his father's bait shop, Blue Water Bait and Tackle, where he revived the fish in the bait tanks and later let it go in the waters of Grand Lake.
"It's alive and swimming around in Grand Lake now," he said.
Technically under state regulation the fish should have been released back to Hudson, but Assistant Chief of Fisheries Gene Gilliland said the case for tail-waters fish falls into a sort of gray area, especially when it comes to a hybrid. "That's the letter of the law," he said. "It probably was stocked in Grand once upon a time, and when it was considerably younger it may have been flushed out in a flood and wound up in the tail-water," he said. "Still, we don't want to encourage people to release fish in lakes other than where they were caught. They may have good intentions, but there can be unintended consequences."
Original Print Headline: Angler lands record hybrid
Chad Blackman of Disney holds the new Hudson Lake-record hybrid striped bass Monday. The fish was 31 1/4 inches long, 27 inches around and weighed 20 pounds, 8 ounces. KENDRA GLENN / Courtesy