In Sunday’s Times-Dispatch I wrote about the fish and the fisherman pictured with this blog entry. Click here for the story. If you need a little prodding, there’s this: That giant striped bass was caught in Richmond city limits.
And the story gets better. I spoke with Gary Martel, one of the top fisheries biologists at the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, and he cleared up some confusion I had with the fish when I wrote the story. The angler, Steve Knox, thought the fish, which he weighed on his boat at somewhere between 74-75 pounds, wouldn’t count as a state record striped bass (the current record is 74 pounds). He was right, but not because of where he caught it. Regulations state that when Virginia’s trophy striped bass season begins on May 1, anglers may keep one fish larger than 32 inches outside of the spawning reaches of the Chesapeake Bay’s tributary rivers. For the James, Martel explained, the upstream end of the spawning area is City Point in Hopewell.
Since Knox caught his fish near Rocketts Landing, he was outside of the spawning reach and could have kept the fish. That also means he could have gone through the process to have it certified as a state record — having it weighed at a certified location, witnessed by specific officials, taken certain measurements, etc. — if, and here’s the rub, he had caught it one day later. Knox caught his fish on April 30th, and the Trophy striper season began on May 1st.
It boils down to this: If Knox had caught his fish one day later, he would be the owner of the Virginia record striped bass.