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Today's Sunbeam
By BEN SCHNEIDER
Staff Writer
SALEM It was the biggest striped bass he ever saw, and his then 10-year-old son was the one who caught it. Jeffrey Lehman Jr., an avid fisherman like his dad, Jeff Sr., was fishing in family friend Dave Hall's 11-foot skiff on the Delaware near Artificial Island in the late spring when he hooked a fish. This was hardly unusual, but when Jeffrey felt the power of the fish as it tried to pull away, he figured he had something big. He was right. Jeffrey would eventually pull in a striped bass he measured at about 45 inches in length. He and his father estimated its weight to be between 35 and 40 pounds. If they were right, Jeffrey would hold a new world record for the biggest striped bass ever caught in his age group.
But before he could worry about that, Jeffrey had to get that fish in his boat. And no matter how difficult it was, he was going to do it himself. For nearly 25 minutes, Jeffrey wrestled with the fish. He said his arms grew very tired during the ordeal, but he would not let anyone help him reel in the struggling, powerful animal. Hall, in fact, leaned in to help Jeffrey, who ordered him away from the fishing line for safety¹s sake.
The suspense built up as Jeffrey slowly brought the fish near the boat. When he finally had pulled it right up to the edge, he allowed his Dad to pull it in with a fishing net. The fish was so heavy, Jeffrey¹s father had to use both hands on the hoop of the net to pull it up over the side of the boat. Jeffrey has been fishing since he was three, his dad said, and he takes the
sport very seriously. That is likely why he was less than thrilled when he had to throw the fish back in the water. Jeffrey¹s father said the fish was full of eggs so it didn¹t seem right to hold onto it. Jeffrey understands that, but fish like that don't come along very often, to say the least. "I still wish we could¹ve kept it," he said. After a little investigation, Jeff Lehman Sr. said the fish was heavy enough for his son to hold the world record for his age group. But Jeffrey turned 11 one week after he caught that fish, putting him into another age group. And because they never had a formal weighing of the fish, Jeff Lehman Sr. said he cannot prove to the record keepers at the International Game Fish Association just how heavy that fish was. But there's one thing Jeff Lehman Sr. knows for sure about that striped
bass:
"It¹s the biggest one I've ever seen."

[ 07-08-2005, 03:20 PM: Message edited by: Captblock ]
 

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Good for them for releasing the fish. The did the right thing.
 
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