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WI Angler Catches Potential State Record Bass, Lets it Go

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August 27, 2012
WI Angler Catches Potential State Record Bass, Lets it Go - 3

Gabriella Esperson of Whitewater, Wisconsin let go what most anglers can only dream of: a potential new state record largemouth bass.

The 21-year-old biology major and UW-Whitewater fishing team member was fishing on an undisclosed lake with her boyfriend Ryan Nelson near Edgerton last week Tuesday when a fish hit her wacky-rigged 6-inch soft plastic bait. Gabriella, who had caught and released a 13-inch largemouth bass only 45 minutes earlier, knew she had hooked something big. 

She told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel she felt like she was "dragging in a northern."  When the fish surfaced Gabriella could see exactly what she was dealing with. "My adrenaline kicked in," Gabriella said. "There was no doubt in my mind I had the biggest bass I have ever encountered on my line." 

It took Gabriella another five minutes of hard fighting to bring the fish in. Once she did, she and Ryan put the tape measure and scale kept in Ryan’s boat to quick use. Gabriella’s fish measured 25.75 inches long, 20.06 inches in girth and weighed 11.05 pounds on an uncertified scale. 

Despite knowing that the fish might be a new record (the current Wisconsin record for largemouth bass is just a little bigger at 11 pounds, 3 ounces) Gabriella promptly released it. "I knew this was an old fish and I had to let it go, whether it was a record or not," Gabriella said. "By releasing the fish it allows it to reproduce and continually grow, and hopefully others will do the same down the road."

Gabriella won’t name the lake where she caught and released her potential trophy fish fearing it might lead to too much fishing pressure. "I'm confident there are other lakes in Wisconsin like it, with bass just as big," Gabriella said. "I think the next state record is out there growing right now."

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from Paul Hawkins wrote 1 year 33 weeks ago

Of COURSE you release that fish. She got great measurements and pictures, why keep and kill that great fish? I guess that is the fish in the picture. I still don't get why folks don't hold the fish out and up so it can be seen. There's no shame in sticking the fish on out in the camera. 25.75" is still 25.75" no matter how much you stick the fish in the camera - Nicen -

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from WI Bowhunter 95 wrote 1 year 33 weeks ago

Congrats Gabriella and Ryan, to kill a fish that appears to be just shy of a state record would not be worth it, and you can always get a replica mount made. Were it me, I'd probably have put it in the livewell or a big cooler, brought to certified scale and if it was a record, then made the call. I've used enough non-certified boat scales to know most weigh a bit on the high side if anything, and even 11.05 would be shy of the 11.16 the current record equates. Still, she may have released the real record, since many of the old records of the 30s to 50s are controversial. Some of the old-time anglers on their death beds told tales of putting sand in musky's bellies to win tourneys, for example, and all you needed was a witness on a certified scale, not a DNR biologist like today when they open up one side and check the stomach for anything added. Either way, great fish story!

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from huntfishtrap wrote 1 year 33 weeks ago

Nice looking chick. The fish ain't half bad either.

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from WI Bowhunter 95 wrote 1 year 33 weeks ago

Congrats Gabriella and Ryan, to kill a fish that appears to be just shy of a state record would not be worth it, and you can always get a replica mount made. Were it me, I'd probably have put it in the livewell or a big cooler, brought to certified scale and if it was a record, then made the call. I've used enough non-certified boat scales to know most weigh a bit on the high side if anything, and even 11.05 would be shy of the 11.16 the current record equates. Still, she may have released the real record, since many of the old records of the 30s to 50s are controversial. Some of the old-time anglers on their death beds told tales of putting sand in musky's bellies to win tourneys, for example, and all you needed was a witness on a certified scale, not a DNR biologist like today when they open up one side and check the stomach for anything added. Either way, great fish story!

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from Paul Hawkins wrote 1 year 33 weeks ago

Of COURSE you release that fish. She got great measurements and pictures, why keep and kill that great fish? I guess that is the fish in the picture. I still don't get why folks don't hold the fish out and up so it can be seen. There's no shame in sticking the fish on out in the camera. 25.75" is still 25.75" no matter how much you stick the fish in the camera - Nicen -

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from huntfishtrap wrote 1 year 33 weeks ago

Nice looking chick. The fish ain't half bad either.

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