- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 21, 2001

Is there anybody out there who likes to wet a line yet has never entertained the thought that a certain fish that was caught might turn out to be big enough to set a state, maybe even a world record?
Seriously, how many times have you latched onto a big rockfish, a fat farm pond bluegill or a feisty bass that suddenly broke the line or otherwise escaped and had you wondering, "Could that have been a record?" Well, it might have. You never know unless you bring your trophy to the net, measure it, weigh it, and are aware of what it takes to bust a standing mark.
In the case of the majority of fish species, establishing a world record is nothing more than gaining a considerable amount of personal satisfaction. There will be no prizes, no awards and no interviews on radio and TV. Oh, the local newspaper's outdoors writer will make mention of it, but that's pretty much it.
On the other hand, should you break the 22-pound, 4-ounce world record for largemouth bass, there's a better than even chance you could make a million bucks from the feat. Why? The largemouth bass is America's most popular gamefish. Well more than 30 million people in the United States go after the largemouth exclusively nothing else, only the bigmouthed fellow will do.
The popularity of bass fishing has spawned pardon the pun entire industries, including makers of boats, garments, specialty tackle and even tow vehicles designed for expensive bass boats . A variety of tackle manufacturers and such international organizations as the Bass Anglers Sportman Society have standing reward money for the person who breaks the mark established by George Perry's 1932 fabulous monster that he caught in Montgomery Lake, Ga. Then there will be endorsement money, personal appearance money and big bucks from the sales of replicas of the world record fish.
Perry never realized any real benefit from his world record, although he did win a shotgun in a Field & Stream magazine contest, if memory serves.
However, the world record fish gods have an odd way of bestowing favor upon certain anglers.
A fellow that our readers see frequently mentioned in our fishing columns, Andy Andrzejewski, the professional fishing guide who works mostly on the waters of the tidal Potomac River, is a perfect example.
Earlier this year as Andrzejewski and fellow guide Dale Knupp enjoyed a busman's holiday on the river's Pohick Bay, fishing for bass but feeling no pressure to deliver for cash-paying clients, Andrzejewski cast a 2-inch-long Mann's Sting Ray grub (yes, in the ever-popular avocado color and liberally dabbed with crawfish-flavored Smelly Jelly fish attractant) when he felt a slight popping sensation at the business end of the line. Bass, he thought, and instantly set the hook.
It wasn't. The fish that came to the surface was a yellow perch, a fat female perch that looked as if she had been around for a few years.
"The moment I set the hook and saw her, I knew that it was my personal best as far as yellow perch are concerned," he said. "I knew this fish was special. So we measured it, weighed it and wondered what to do with her. I checked the record books I keep on board and saw that the National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame has a catch-and-release division for record applicants. I let the big perch go after it was witnessed and a scale showed it to weigh 1 pound, 10 ounces, which is pretty big for a yellow perch. I entered it, mentioning on the application blank that I used 12-pound-test Berkley Trilene."
Some time went by, and Andrzejewski received the news from the NFFHF. He had established a world record for yellow perch in the 14-pound-testline class (apparently his Berkley Trilene line over-tested and was moved into the 14-pound class), and he also learned that he owned the All-Tackle world record for catch-and-release yellow perch.
Yes, bigger yellow perch have been caught and registered with the NFFHF and the International Game Fish Association but none as big as Andy's perch in the catch-and-release division. In fact, the IGFA record-keeping group doesn't have a catch-and-release category for world record fish.
"Hey, it's all been good fun," Andrzejewski says. "I know there won't be any big to-do over my perch, but I guess she's still out there and I'm a world record holder. What's wrong with that?"
Nothing, Andy. Absolutely nothing.
Meanwhile, should you want more information about record-keeping organizations, the National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame can be reached by writing it at 10360 Hall Of Fame Drive, Hayward, Wis. 54843; or by phone at 715/634-4440. The International Game Fish Association is located at 300 Gulf Stream Way, Dania Beach, Fla. 33004; phone 954/927-2628; e-mail [email protected]; and Web site www.igfa.org.

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