In this photo taken March 1, 65-year-old James R. Bramlett poses in Dora, Ala., with the 69-pound, 9.8-ounce striped bass he caught in the Black Warrior River near the Gorgas Steam Plant on Feb. 28. Bramlett has broken the state record for striped bass by
CENTREVILLE, Ala. — When James R. Bramlett of Dora caught the fish of a lifetime on Feb. 28 on the Black Warrior River near the Gorgas Steam Plant, he knew the striped bass may be a state record and possibly a new world record. Getting the fish weighed accurately was his first thought.
The closest certified scale he knew of was Sumiton Iron, a scrap yard. The scale weighed to the nearest pound and the weight of the fish was first recorded at 70 pounds even.
Fisheries biologist Heath Haley and his supervisor Jay Haffner with the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources both advised Bramlett to get the fish reweighed.
That happened March 12 at the Centreville Post Office. Taxidermist Jacky Scott thawed the huge striper early that morning and met Haffner at the post office and asked postmaster Sherry Burt if they could weigh the fish on the certified postal scale. The scale at the Centreville Post Office measures weight to one-tenth of an ounce and are calibrated daily.
The huge striper tipped the scale for its new official weight at 69 pounds, 9.8 ounces. About a dozen people witnessed the 10-minute process.
"People oohhed and ahhed as the number was announced and everyone scrambled to get their cell phones to take pictures," Burt said.
"You are looking at the new world record striped bass," fisheries biologist Jay Haffner announced. "This is a slam dunk."
Haffner said that Bramlett's monster striper beat the current IGFA world record by almost 2 pounds.
"When people first saw the fish, their jaws dropped," Haffner said. "Many of them had never seen a fish of that size up close."
Fisheries biologist Heath Haley has been working to make sure Bramlett's possible record becomes official on the state- and world-record level. Haley took the first measurements and has worked with Bramlett and IGFA record coordinator Jack Viteck to make sure accurate and transparent information about the fish is available.
The next step in the process is to send all photos and documentation about the fish, rod and reel used, and a section of the fishing line to IGFA for certification of a world record. The record being pursued is for a striped bass in the landlocked category.
Haffner and Haley both work as fisheries biologists in District 3. Haffner joking calls it the "district of giants." Since March 2012, two state records have been shattered.
John Nichols shattered the Alabama blue catfish record with a 120-pound, 4-ounce fish. Nichols, who lives in Tuscaloosa, caught the behemoth from Holt Reservoir on March 9, 2012. The previous state record was 111 pounds.
Now Bramlett has broken the state record for striped bass by 15 pounds and probably will be awarded the IGFA world record. Both fish were caught in District 3.