The fish — whatever it was Jason Blauvelt hooked at the bottom of Lake Pleasant on Sept. 13 — took a deep, diving run. Blauvelt scrambled to loosen his drag. The fish slowed, then stopped.
“When I started pulling up,” Blauvelt said, “I couldn’t move him.”
Ten minutes later, after the fish made another major run to the bottom, Blauvelt had landed a 42 1/8-inch striper that by Monday weighed 28.38 pounds on the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s Phoenix headquarters’ certified scale,
The fish that bit a 5-inch spoon around 3:30 p.m. was less than a pound away from an inland waters, hook-and-line state record for striper.
The existing hook-and-line record: Bob Liddington of Phoenix caught a 29-pound, 13.76 ounce, 45 ¼-incher out of Lake Pleasant on July 13, 2010.
“I had him frozen,” Blauvelt said. “By Monday it had lost some water weight … I didn’t have a swimming pool to throw him in.”
Needless to say, the catch also is an AZGFD Big Fish of the Year leader for the catch-and-keep striped bass category.
Blauvelt, a guide with The Arizona Fishing Guides, was using 14-pound Sunline fluorocarbon line on a 7-foot-8 heavy-action Dobyns rod with a Shimano Curado baitcast reel.
“He had the spoon in the back of his mouth with his teeth running the line the whole time,” Blauvelt said. “Afterward, I went back to check the line, and when I gave it a pull, it snapped. If he had taken another run without me adjusting the drag quickly enough, it would have snapped.”
He began the day at the north end of the lake, catching small stripers and a few largemouth bass on 4-inch swimbaits.
Later on in the morning, Blauvelt and a client moved to the main lake and began graphing fish in about 75 feet of depth over submerged humps. The anglers would fish a school, jig spoons to catch a couple fish, then move to another school.
“And doing that,” Blauvelt said, “we ended up running into the giant.”