James Hitchens now hold the record for Delaware largemouth bass

In case you're one of only a handful of Delaware fishermen who don't know it, there's a new record for largemouth bass in the state. It's 10 lbs. 10 oz., it was 26 inches long and it was 18.75 inches in girth. It was caught in Georgetown by James Hitchens who transported it to Seaford to be officially weighed and records, then transported back to Georgetown where it was released back where it was caught. Past that point, it's pure speculation about anything as Mr. Hitches ain't talking. (I fully support that.)


Still, the talk in the fishing community is how to find the spot. State biologist Cathy Martin tried to imply it was "our" fish and now could be pass along its genes and be caught again by other sportsmen. Personally, I think that's a lot of bull.


I say that because of several factors. The fish's coloration doesn't project "mill pond" to me. Our mill ponds are seldom over 7-8 feet deep and winter growth is inhibited because of that. Very few of our ponds don't have heavy fishing pressure so a fish this large surviving to reach that size is very questionable.


Personally, I suspect the fish was taken from a private irrigation pond or borrow pit that had been privately stocked. I know of several places like that here in the state. My first citation fish here was caught in just such a place in 1990 and though I could have thrown a rock across the largest width, it was a 22 feet deep irrigation pond.


I'd be more interested in seeing if the fish survived the process.  From the picture (http://www.gameandfishmag.com/2012/03/26/delaware-record-largemouth-caught-and-released/) you can see by the redness of the pelvic fin. That coloration is an indication that the fish has been stressed and stress is not a good thing in a fish that size.


A common misconception is that released fish survive it you don't find them floating on the surface. When stressed, fish often die and sink to the bottom. Neither the air bladder nor the bacterial bloating is enough to lift the fish and scavengers clean up the evidence. We simply don't see it and really don't want to know about it.


Still, hope springs eternal and all of us outdoorsmen understand the one day, the big one will bite, the big ducks from "up north" will make it down, and "Mr. Wonderful" will one day step in front of our gun.