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A Record Setting Largemouth

For golfers it ‘s a hole-in-one. For baseball fans, it’s a perfect game. For bass fisherman, it is the quest for a 10-pounder. On April, 12th, 49-year-old Fairfax resident, Gary Kincheloe, landed a 10 pound 1 ounce largemouth bass on the Potomac River.

While not near the 70-year old world largemouth record of 22 pounds, 4 ounces, it was the biggest local catch in decades. The previous Potomac River record, 9 pounds 1 ounce, was set in 1975. "Since 1991 we have sampled more than 10,000 largemouth bass in Potomac River electrofishing surveys. Although 5 to 6 pounders are fairly common, only one fish was weighed over 7 pounds. Tournaments monitored over that same period, weighed nearly 100,000 bass and only two over 8 lbs were documented,” said Don Cosdin, MD Fisheries Southern Regional Manager.

Kincheloe’s fish was nearly 2 pounds larger than any caught on the Potomac during all of the BASSMASTERS events over the past 15 years.
A 10-pound bass is a fish of a lifetime for most anglers. Fishermen must go to Florida or California to try to land a lunker this size. Kincheloe has caught quite a few fish in the 5-7 pound range, but this one was his biggest ever.

The water temperature had dropped to 55 degrees and Kincheloe had caught a few fish of average size in 7 hours until about 3:30 in the afternoon.

“The wind was blowing and we were trying to get out of the wind, so we went to the Spoils (a protected cove near the Wilson Bridge), we had been catching bigger fish on crankbaits. I was using a shallow running crank then switched to a crawfish colored Rapala jointed Shad Rap with Mustad Ultra Point Triple Grip Trebles.”

Kincheloe explained that the Shad Rap lure runs a bit deeper and was able to cover depths from 2 feet to about 8 feet. He had this bait rigged on a G-Loomis cranking rod with a Shimano Chronarch reel spooled with 14-pound test Berkley XL line.

“I was just bouncing the bait off the wood and all of a sudden my bait stopped and it felt like I was hung up, then it moved some and I knew I had a fish.”

Kincheloe said the fight lasted about 10 minutes. His partner Derek Moyer landed the fish for him and they guessed the fish would weigh about 8-10 pounds. I received a call from Kincheloe just after he caught it to bring a scale and a camera. I have had the pleasure of fishing with him and around him. When he pulled up to Belle Haven Marina and showed a few guys, the cameras came out and the crowd gathered. Kids were excited.

Even my wife, who doesn’t fish a lot, understood this part of history.
We weighed this fish on a Berkley digital scale and it showed 10.1-10.3 pounds, settling in at 10.1 pounds (extremely close the calibrated scale!). Guys wanted to be in the photo with Kincheloe. He took great care to let the fish rest for a while before taking it out during his 1-hour dock stop. He took it to the Roy Rogers in Belle view Shopping Center to weigh it on a calibrated scale that showed that Kincheloe's “fish of a lifetime” weighed in at 10 pounds and an ounce. It measured 23 inches long and had a 20-inch girth.

“We were absolutely concerned about the fish…we would let some guys see it in the livewell and wait until a crowd grew before taking it out to share it with them.”

To keep the fish alive, Kincheloe added Rejuvenade fish treatment ( to his aerated livewells while he drove it to be weighed and photographed. He then released the fish, which swam off right away. According to DNR officials, this record-breaking fish might not get the “official” record because it was not weighed in Maryland. Maryland has jurisdiction over the Potomac River. Part of the requirement for certifying a record fish is to have it examined by a Maryland Fisheries biologist. In reality, you would have to bring in a dead fish. A live healthy fish, properly aerated and with the use of today’s advances in water additives like Rejuvenade, can withstand a long period of captivity. But, on a weekend for a day or two in warm weather in a livewell? Not likely!

This fish puts to rest all other claims and fabrications by guides and anglers as to who has caught the largest bass on the Potomac River. An angler, who has taken every step to verify and validate his catch while keeping the fish alive should be rewarded, not penalized. This defeats the true spirit of Catch and Release practiced by a majority of anglers.
In addition, the Potomac is frequented by a lot of out-of-staters. This makes the Potomac a huge economic attraction, drawing anglers from New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, North Carolina, and Virginia. Maryland should consider making record keeping and verification more fishermen-friendly. Making records more easily certifiable would do a lot to promote this fishery.

Kincheloe’s released 10+ pound fish will do more to highlight Catch and Release and the Potomac River than anyone could imagine. “It was a hard decision to put it on the wall or return it. I just love fishing in the Potomac so much I don’t mind putting it back because I know it is going to produce more fish.”

The magnitude of his 10+ pound fish in the Potomac is growing. In just the few days after Kincheloe released his fish, the rumors and legend grew. “Dock Talk” increased the size of this fish to nearly 11 pounds. The local media is covering this great event with an asterisk…this fish is the record! It was weighted on a certified scale and there were dozens of witnesses.

Kincheloe, who owns a heating and air conditioning business, said he fishes at least 2 days a week all year out of a Gambler 2200 with 250 Mercury outboard. He has fished the BASSMASTER Federation Region1 and other local tournaments, like St Jude Children’s Hospital Tournaments, for the past 4 years.

As to whether it made a difference to have a fish over the 10-pound mark, “10 pounds puts you in the double digits and looks bigger in print.”


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