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Potential record breaking bass found dead

By asoglin
Saturday, May 10th, 2008 at 11:54 am in Uncategorized.

ESCONDIDO, Calif. (AP) – The last time angler Mac Weakley saw Dottie, the 25-pound big bass that gained worldwide attention for its size, she was on the end of his hook.The legendary big bass, which was released after its 2006 capture, was found belly-up this week in Escondido’s Dixon Lake. The Florida-strain largemouth bass had been dead about a day.

Nicknamed Dottie for a distinctive birthmark spot below her jawline, the dead fish measured 29½ inch long and weighed about 19-pounds. When Weakley caught Dottie two years earlier, she was bulging with eggs that significantly added to her weight.

Weakly never officially submitted the fish to shatter the bass record because he had foul-hooked the fish. He had accidentally hooked the fish below its dorsal fin instead of the mouth, something that would have stirred controversy in the fishing world.

After word got out about Dottie’s girth, catching the elusive bass became an obsession for many anglers who traveled to Escondido from as far away as Japan with their poles.

The biggest bass on record was caught at Georgia’s Montgomery Lake and weighed 22 pounds, 4 ounces.

For the past week, a camera crew working for the National Geographic Channel had been recording attempts by Weakley, 35, and Jed Dickerson, 35, to find and catch Dottie again.

Instead, the anglers were called in to identify the fish, which now sits in the ranger’s freezer.

Someone found Dottie floating among weeds, netted her and left her with an attendant at the boat dock. She had apparently died after spawning.

“That’s it that’s the fish,” Weakley said.

California Fish and Game officials are expected to come by Monday and take tissue samples so they can determine the fish’s age. Dottie was estimated to be between 15 to 17 years old at the time of her death.

Weakley and Dickerson said they were not unhappy that their two-year pursuit was over. Finding the big bass proved that they had not killed her in 2006 and that she had lived out her natural life.

Park ranger supervisor Jim Dayberry predicted that Dottie’s progeny could provide the next record fish.

“It could come tomorrow,” he said.

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Information from: The San Diego Union-Tribune, http://www.signonsandiego.com

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press.

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