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February 15, 2012

Record-Breaking Virginia Striped Bass Certified

The 26-year-old fish also ties as the oldest otilith-aged striped bass

This just in from the Virginia Saltwater Fishing Tournament...

A 74-pound striped bass, caught on January 20th by Cary Wolfe of Bristow, VA, has been certified as the new Virginia State Record by the Virginia Saltwater Fishing Tournament.  Wolfe's catch surpassed the existing record of 73 pounds, caught nearly four years ago to the day by Fred Barnes of Chesapeake. 

Wolfe made the record-setting catch in the Atlantic Ocean off Cape Henry, where they were but one of an estimated 100-boat flotilla while fishing with Captain Tim Cannon aboard the charter boat Bada Bing.  The trophy striper hit a trolled tandem parachute rig, consisting of a pair of 2-ounce big-mouthed nylon skirted jigs, paired with 9-inch rubber shad bodies and trolled from a custom rod mated to a Penn 114H, spooled with 80-pound Ande monofilament line.  When the fish hit, Wolfe pulled the rod from its holder and began reeling after the striper made an initial but brief run.  After an uneventful 15 minutes, the fish broke water near the back of the boat, where the captain realized the fish was likely too large for the net. Wolfe was instructed to lead the fish head first into the net.  As the angler strained the 80-pound mono to lead the fish the mono snapped and the hook fell from the fish's lip.  Momentum carried the fish across the waiting landing net, where the fish rested briefly.  A flick of the tail and the fish would be gone but the huge striper relaxed.  Its head slumped into the net and was hauled into the boat by Wolfe and Captain Cannon.  Several pictures were immediately taken and the group figured the fish was at least 50 pounds.

Tournament Director Lewis Gillingham viewed the official weigh-in at Long Bay Pointe Marina by its weighmaster Connie Barbour.  "The fish seemed very long for its girth, with a large head and not much in its stomach.  Captain Cannon indicated the fish had spit-up several medium-sized eels after it was brought onboard," noted Gillingham.  The trophy striper was hustled to the Richmond Boat Show later Friday evening, where it was on display through Sunday.  Wolfe, an X-ray technician employed at Manassas Hospital, also allowed the removal of the big striper's otilith (ear bone) after the display by a member of the VMRC biological sampling program so its age could be determined.  At the time the otilith was removed it was determined the fish was a female with a reasonably large egg mass but its gut was empty.

The record striper's otilith was taken to Old Dominion University's CQFE Ageing lab where it was determined the fish was 26 years old, making it a member of the 1986 year class.  The 26-year-old fish ties as the oldest otilith-aged striped bass. The other fish, taken in 2011, weighed 61 pounds and was a member of the 1985 year class.  Interestingly, the outgoing state record striper, was determined to be 22 years old but that was in 2008, making it a colleague of the new record fish as another member of the 1986 year class.

The 74-pound, record-setting striper measured 56-3/4 inches in length and had a girth of 31-1/2 inches.    The prior state record of 73 pounds was caught in the Atlantic Ocean about one-half mile north of the 4A buoy, which is located off Fishermen's Island, by Frederick Barnes of Chesapeake on January 23, 2008.