Archived Story

World record food for thought

Published 6:12pm Friday, May 31, 2013

We had fish tacos at my house Wednesday.

More specifically, we had Tallapoosa River striped bass tacos, the result of my two sons going fishing last week.

The tacos were really tasty. Our bass was marinated and grilled, juiced up with a lime and cilantro white sauce, folded into a corn tortilla and topped with crispy of romaine lettuce and sliced cherry tomatoes.

It was an excellent, home-grown dinner. And good for you. (I’m not exactly sure what was in the white sauce my wife whipped up, but it tasted good and good-for-you.)

Roughly a pound of bass became seven tacos with some fish left over for finger-food nibbling in our kitchen.

I thought about our Wednesday dinner Friday morning when I read a press release announcing that the International Game Fish Association (IGFA) has certified the whopper 69-pound, 9-ounce striped bass caught a couple of months ago in the Black Warrior River as a new world record. The fish was already certified as an Alabama state record, topping the biggest recorded Alabama striper by 15 pounds.

James Bramlett of Dora, Ala., hooked this river monster while free-lining with shad on Feb. 28 near the Gorgas Steam Plant, which is located on the northern part of the river in Walker County around the City of Parrish.

“I had been catching three to five-pound bass all morning, which is fairly common for February,” Bramlett said. A little after 11 a.m., he said he saw the huge fish causing a commotion in about a foot of water, chasing baitfish.

“I had never dreamed of a strip like that coming up. It had the skipjack flying out of the water,” said the 65-year-old fisherman.

Bramlett cast his line – 30-pound test spooled on an Ambassador 7000 reel and mounted on a Ugly Stik rod – to the spot where the baitfish were breaking the surface.

A few minutes later, the gargantuan striper struck.

“That bait clicker went off, and it sounded like grandma’s sewing machine,” Bramlett said. “By the time I picked it up, it had taken at least 100 feet of line. I pulled back and I knew then I had a solid hook set.”

After a 20 minute fight, the new world record striped bass was boated – no small feat itself, I’m sure. The captain and crew of a river barge witnessed the event, and I’m willing to bet there was lots of whooping and hollering echoing across the river that morning.

I did a little research after hearing about the new world record and discovered that typically, the edible part of a fish like Bramlett’s is 55-60 percent of the fish’s total weight. That means that Bramlett hauled in roughly 40 pounds of striped bass fillets on one cast. By my rough calculation, that’s about 280 fish tacos like the ones we had this week, enough to feed more than 100 people.

A couple of weeks ago I spoke with David Hare, a striper guide on Lake Martin, who knew all about the Warrior fish and let on that he strongly believes there are record-breaking striped bass swimming here, now, in our lake.

And he’s angling to prove it.

Talk about food for thought – the opportunity to catch a 70+ pound striper ought to whet the appetite of everyone who casts a line in Lake Martin.

Boone is publisher of The Outlook.