A 52-pound striped bass caught Saturday morning, Dec. 8, on the beach of Delaware Seashore State Park has broken the existing state record. Ben Smith of Bryn Mawr, Pa., caught the four-foot-plus fish at about 7:30 a.m. True to proper angler form, Smith wouldn't disclose the exact location of the catch. He caught it on a chunk of fresh bunker purchased at Old Inlet Bait and Tackle.
Eddie Heite of Old Inlet said when the angler weighed the fish in after noon, it registered 52 pounds. When it was weighed a little later at Hook' Em and Cook 'Em at the state's Indian River Marina, the fish tipped the scales at 51 pounds, nine ounces. "Our scale is certified by the state's weights and measures division," said Heite, "and fish are known to lose weight over time. It could have easily lost a few ounces between us and the other scale." Since five hours passed between the time the fish was caught and when it was first weighed, Heite felt certain it beat the old record of 51 pounds, eight ounces set by Betty Rosen in 1978.
Nate Rust, director of Delaware's Sport Fishing Tournament, said Monday afternoon that the fish has been certified as a state record. "Cpl. Doug Messick of Fish and Wildlife enforcement verified the fish at Old Inlet Bait and Tackle. Everything is legal and correct and we're satisfied the fish is a new state record."
According to Clark Evans at Old Inlet, a new state record must be at least four ounces heavier than the previous record. At 52 pounds, Smith's striper beats the old record by eight ounces..
Heite said the fish, likely a female because of its size, measured 51 inches in length with a 30-inch girth. "That girth is greater than the length of most of the keepers we're seeing," said Heite. He said the fish had no eggs. "It was not a spawning fish."