Paul Bailey isn’t telling the public where he, Matt Newman, and Shea McIntee were fishing recently, and for good reason. The two western pro anglers were filming somewhere in California for McIntee’s Stoked on Fishing when Bailey caught a potential world-record spotted bass. He’s keeping the location under wraps to mitigate the amount of traffic the water gets, but pictures of his trip to “Lake X,” as he calls it, are making the rounds and causing jaws to drop worldwide.
The three started the day out with freezing temperatures and frosted surroundings, catching a few fish but nothing worth remembering. They decided to move back into a pocket of water where Newman caught an 8-pound spotted bass. While Newman was celebrating, Bailey stepped up and cast for the same area. He hooked what was an obvious giant and worked it toward the boat.
A minute-long fight and a few runs later the fish was in Newman’s hands. He instantly knew it was a world-record fish.
“As soon as I put my hand on its jaw, I looked at the camera and said, ‘Dude! It’s a world record!'” Newman told Wired 2 Fish. “Paul said, ‘Dude it’s a 10-pounder.’ I said, ‘No dude; it’s a world record. I’m telling you.'”
It was bigger than that. When put on a scale aboard the boat, Bailey’s fish weighed a stunning 11 pounds, 4 ounces.
The fish was never officially certified, though — despite Bailey’s best efforts. California Department of Fish and Game officials would not come out to certify the fish for Bailey despite multiple calls, and when Bailey tried to get permission to transport the fish to somewhere someone would, he was told he could not transport the live fish anywhere else. Eventually he was forced to release the fish, but not before snapping photos and weighing it with three separate scales.
After multiple attempts to have his spotted bass officially weighed, Paul Bailey settles for photographic evidence instead.
After releasing the potential record, Newman cast back to the same spot the two previous fish had been caught. He landed another, albeit smaller, spotted bass, weighing more than six pounds.
The record for spotted bass has been broken multiple times in 2014 and 2015, all coming from California. Wired 2 Fish wrote of Keith Bryan’s 10.48-pound spotted bass on the New Melones Reservoir in March of 2014, which broke the previous record of 10.27 pounds. That record was then broken by Lou Ferrante in February of 2015 when he caught a certified 10.95-pound spot on Northern California’s Bullards Bar Reservoir.
Similar to a largemouth in appearance, spotted bass live at deeper depths than either large- or smallmouth bass. Based on fishing in a Tennessee lake, IGFA puts their hooked depths as deep as 100 feet, while smallies have been measured at 60 feet. Largemouths tend to be caught in shallower waters than the other species.
Bailey’s monster fish and its successful catch will air on Stoked On Fishing in February.