Some catches exist in a parallel universe, extraordinary, transcendent
A weekday, middle of June. David and Marlene Glatzhofer are out early on their 16-foot aluminum boat.
She’s fishing the biggest minnow they can find in the baitwell. He’s casting a blue Yum paddle-tail worm. After maybe 20 minutes working a weedline in 8 feet of water, David’s light spinning rod doubles over.
“I really thought maybe it was going to break,” he recalled. “Normally they say these big fish come to the surface, but this fish just kept diving to the bottom, over and over.”
David had 20-pound-test braided main line tied to a leader of clear, 12-pound-test mono. Light stuff, but he had the touch for it. “I used to fish for musky in Wisconsin,” he later told Florida Sportsman. “That helps with handling bigger fish.” His previous best largemouth? Six pounds. “We usually catch a good number of 1- to 3-pounders,” he said.
What Marlene scoops into their net is one of those fish that resides somewhere in the murky waters between myth and dream. Skeptics and state officials may question details, but rest assured, the truth is out there. Still swimming, in fact.
In the pictures, the pin on Glatzhofer’s mechanical scale points to something like 22 pounds, and the tape shows 30 inches. This puts the bass well ahead of the current Florida state record, recognized at 17.27 pounds, from Polk County in 1986. An unofficial twenty-pounder is listed, from 1923.
World record, 22 pounds, 4 ounces, is shared by George Perry (Georgia, 1932) and Manabu Kurita (Japan, 2009).
However: David (humble, generous; I spoke with him at length) took a high road. He released his fish. After all, it was a catch-and-release lake, per regulations.
“The water was hot, and we were worried about the fish,” he said. “When we released it, we saw it swim away strong. I’d like to think someone else might catch that fish some day. Honestly, I didn’t think at the time to call the Fish and Wildlife Commission.”
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission maintains an inventory of catch-and-release photo/measurement entries for large fish through TrophyCatch. [You can read about it in this month’s feature, by David McGrath.]
State record verification, however, has a finer list of criteria, requiring a certified scale and fisheries biologist confirmation—which in this particular case may have meant fish of the century, dead. For very large catches, an FWC staffer will come to the lake.
What will FWC do with Glatzhofer’s fish, you may be wondering? (We’d like to know, too!)
Or are you just wanting to know the other thing: What lake?!
Florida Sportsman decided we wouldn’t spoil David’s chance to have this discussion with his fishing club buddies in Summerfield, FLA. Most of them are snowbirds and out of town all summer.
“We have our meetings, talk about where we’ll fish, then make the rounds,” David said.
Let’s leave it at this: It’s a catch-and-release lake with a public ramp, one of many pristine waters scattered among a national forest half the size of Rhode Island. David, a retired heavy equipment operator from Illinois, said he never thought he’d catch a fish like this.
“I’m not looking for notoriety—I’d just want people to know there are fish like that out there, and you never know what you’re gonna get.”
“We just couldn’t believe it; we were in shock. Without Marlene netting that fish, I wouldn’t have caught it. Marlene and I like to fish, it’s something we do together. All those years I was working, I said to myself, ‘I wish I was just out fishing.’ Well, we’ve lived in Florida full-time going on three years now, and fishing is what I’m doing.”
“Maybe next time I’ll call the FWC. Or someone else will catch that fish and get it registered, if only to show it wasn’t just a fish story.
“I’m not looking for notoriety—I’d just want people to know there are fish like that out there, and you never know what you’re gonna get.” FS
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Published Florida Sportsman Magazine October 2019