Fishy moves help deliver record rock

ON THE OUTDOORS

January 01, 1998|By Peter Baker | Peter Baker,SUN STAFF

John Reedy of Catonsville "noticed something different" about the behavior of the rockfish at Liberty Reservoir a few days before Christmas and that difference prompted two more trips within the next four days, resulting in a state-record catch on Dec. 26.

The freshwater rockfish, checked at Old Reisterstown Bait and Tackle and Clyde's Sports Shop, weighed 41 pounds, 9 ounces and was certified as a record earlier this week by the Department of Natural Resources.

The previous record was 41 pounds, 6 ounces, set by Travis Henkins of Finksburg last spring.

Liberty Reservoir now has produced four state-record stripers since 1995.

"It's a great fish and I couldn't be happier," said Reedy. "It's something you dream about."

Reedy caught the 47 1/2 -inch striper in the northern arm of the reservoir, "up toward Nicodemus Bridge," while cast-trolling a Mann 25+ deep-diving plug.

Reedy wouldn't say exactly where he caught the fish or what was different about the behavior of the rockfish on Dec. 22. But, then, he won't discuss his age or employment, either.

"You put a lot of time and work in out there, you know," said Reedy. "I'd rather not say too much about it."

But on that Monday, Reedy, who said he specializes in catching big fish of all species, found rockfish schooled in an area he calls "mid-lake" and hooked up with three large fish before losing them.

"I've caught four stripers over 30 pounds on the lake this year and, on the 22nd, when I found those fish and lost three, I knew I was onto something," Reedy said.

That evening he called a longtime friend, Barry Castaldi, and they arranged to fish on the 23rd.

"We were going out to do a little fishing. No one was thinking about a state record," said Castaldi, who owns the Reisterstown Car Wash and has fished Liberty with Reedy for 15 years. "We located his school of fish and I caught a 41-pounder and we released a 38-pounder."

The 41-pounder, Castaldi said, might have been heavier than Reedy's record fish, which was caught a few days later.

"That day was a learning experience," said Castaldi, who noted dTC in his log that the 23rd was cloudy with a high temperature of 52 and a low of 34. "We really didn't know just how big a fish we had, and rather than put it in the live well, we left it in the bottom of the boat.

"My fish, everyone said, would have been a state record if we hadn't let it dry out."

On the 26th, Castaldi said, he and Reedy were prepared. They had determined the dimensions of the record fish they were after and knew where they again could find the school of big stripers.

The weather that day, said Castaldi, was sunny and unseasonably warm (high 55, low 35) and he and Reedy were casting plugs parallel to the shoreline, letting the boat's forward motion carry the lures down to about 30 feet.

"Usually, I use the heavy saltwater tackle, trolling reels and 30-pound test," said Reedy. "But that day I had 17-pound test line and a bait-casting reel. I truly love to fish.

"And when it hit, I knew I had a bubba on. It was pulling the boat around, taking line until it was almost gone and I just about had my thumb on the spool."

"After 20 minutes or so -- and I had to be real careful because of the line strength -- we got it in the boat," said Reedy. "I couldn't believe it. The size of this fish was incredible."

While Reedy did not want to talk about other details of his big day, he did say that he keeps complete logs of his fishing trips, including weather, water temperature and depths, sizes of catches and types of lures.

"What it really comes down to is that you track the movements of the fish and try to figure out where they will be when -- how they will relate to structure and weather for two or three days in a row," Reedy said. "We go out for big fish, rockfish, walleye, smallmouth, whatever, but we're looking just for big fish."

Reedy's pursuit of big fish started when he was 5, and he has fished throughout the United States and learned different techniques for different species. But, he said, the best anglers are those who remain focused.

"Learn one species first," he said. "Go out and find where it is when. Write it down. Write everything down. And compare notes often. If you don't, you're not going to remember it a year later when it again will be useful. It doesn't matter if you fish a pond, a stream or a lake, you learn something new every time out."

Reedy said his next target is the state record for walleye, which stands at 11 pounds, 2 ounces. Reedy's best walleye this year is 7.5 pounds, but he expects the next record catch to come from Liberty.

"As far as I'm concerned," he said, "Liberty is the best there is for all freshwater species."

Pub Date: 1/01/98

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