In an Outdoor Life exclusive, Fishing Editor Jerry Gibbs interviewed southern California bass angler Jed Dickerson on the death of Dottie, the legendary “world-record” largemouth bass of Dixon Lake. Dottie, nicknamed for a distinctive coloration below its jawline, has been the focus of a years-long quest by anglers intent on breaking the long-standing world record for the species. Caught and released by Dixon Lake angler Mac Weakley in 2006, Dottie weighed 25 pounds, 1 ounce. Dottie, and those who were obsessed with catching her, are featured in the June issue of Outdoor Life magazine. Here is Gibbs’ latest report:
Jed (Dickerson) had just finished a photo/filming session with National Geographic (with photog Tim Schick) for a several-part series they’re doing on the entire freshwater bass scene—tournaments to world record seekers. They’d wrapped up and had gone to lunch when Dickerson got the call from a ranger at Lake Dixon who said a bass fisherman on the lake had found a big, dead floater. Dickerson asked how big and if it had a black spot. The Ranger suggested that Dickerson have a look. He and the National Geographic crew ran back.
Dickerson knew that it was her. Word went out fast. “People began calling me, as if I’d just lost a family member,” said Dickerson. “Hell, this was the second best thing that could have happened to me…. [obviously the best being catching Dottie himself—alive] I’d been worried that somebody else might catch her, or somebody might find her just dead and claim he’d caught her. Now I can ease off a little.”
How are the other guys? Buddah (Mike Winn) is happy. He’d been transferred up to Sacramento to develop a casino there and hasn’t been able to fish much.
Mac Weakly has been out straight working the casino locally and was delighted. He asked Dickerson if he was ready to start fishing Mission Viejo. That lake, by the way, is the private water open to lake residents only. Two years ago, The Basketeers (as Dickerson, Weakley and Winn have come to be known) rented a house there so they could legally fish. They faced all kinds of grief from other anglers fishing the lake, who were defending their turf.
Dottie looked as though she’d been dead only a day or two, Dickerson said. “She had definitely spawned this week; that’s what killed her,” he said. “Like I told you last month, I saw her in Trout Cove where she’d come, probably to feed up on trout or just nosing around for a nest site. Of course you couldn’t get her to eat then. So we’re into this current moon phase and she had to have spawned either at night and likely deep so we couldn’t find the nest. I had her pinned—I knew she was there but couldn’t see her. Her tail was pretty ragged from fanning.”
Dottie is frozen at Lake Dixon. State biologist, Mike Justi, who works Diamond Valley Reservoir is supposed to be coming to get her in order to study and age her. Dickerson hopes they’ll take her to a taxidermist.
Dickerson says he’ll finish fishing out the current moon at Dixon, then likely go to Diamond Valley Reservoir another lake that holds plenty of potential.
“I don’t know if we’re going to see a 25 (pounder) again anytime soon,” he concluded. “I can see Perry’s record falling, though. But then again, the gene pool’s still in Dixon.”—Jerry Gibbs