As the new year approaches, we here at Game & Fish have taken the liberty of compiling 11 of the biggest fishing headlines from the last year. Like many years past, we’ve kind of seen it all. Strange French catfish trying to stalk pigeons, world records being set and even the loss and recovery of a prosthetic limb out on the big blue sea. We’ve seen new products and innovations, and we’ve also taken a moment of silence after losing a legend in the fishing community. For the good, the bad and the just plain strange, check out our list of the 11 biggest fishing headlines of 2012.
11. Alabama Rig Takes Off
When the Alabama Rig broke onto the scene in October 2012, angler reactions included shock and awe, while manufacturers saw a chance to make a quick buck in the generally flat fishing tackle business. Fast forward to last fall as a group of us watched live as the Lake Guntersville FLW Tour event unfolded, starring Paul Elias and his Alabama Rig. This 5-arm rig, armed with swimbaits, was so effective that anglers not using them stood no chance of success.
10. Humminbird Releases 360 Imaging
Much like an underwater radar system, Humminbird’s 360 Imaging module revolves continuously, revealing the terrain around the boat. Mounted to a Minn Kota Talon bracket off a jackplate, the 360 unit can be easily installed, removed, or replaced with a Talon shallow water anchor system.
9. Trout Got Your Finger?
On July 4, 2012, Hahns Galassi, 31, of Washington state, lost four fingers during a wake-boarding accident on a lake in Idaho this summer. On September 11, an Idaho angler was cleaning his catch when he found Galassi’s well-preserved pinkie finger inside the trout's belly.
8. Catfish Go Pigeon Hunting
Similar to the way crocs and gators lunge at animals venturing near the water's edge for a drink, these catfish were caught on video trying to catch pigeons for lunch. The hunting technique will be familiar to anyone who has seen a crocodile bag a zebra at a watering hole, or watched a killer whale breach onto an ice floe for a tasty penguin. This is the first time European catfish has been known to display the behavior, according to Julien Cucherousset of Paul Sabatier University, who captured the footage after hearing about it from fishermen on the river.
7. Fish Steals and Returns Arm
Jack Wiseman, an amateur fisherman who was invited to participate along with professionals in the Tarpon Tournament Series at Boca Raton Grande Pass, is a former armed services member who bears a prosthetic limb. While Wiseman was reeling in a big fish, all of the sudden his hand snapped off his prosthetic device and away went the fish, rod, reel, and his hand. That same day, another angler hooked the same fish that fortunately still had the rod, reel, and Wiseman's prosthetic limb attached.
6. Paul Grahl Dies in Car Crash
The fishing industry was deeply saddened to learn that Paul Grahl and his wife Johanna were killed in a head-on collision not far from their home in Campbellsport, Wisc. Paul and Johanna's 13-year-old-daughter Ester was also seriously injured in the accident and taken to Children's Hospital of Wisconsin in Milwaukee. The loss was even more tragic when it was learned that the 24-year old driver who crossed the highway and killed Paul and Johanna was intoxicated. He has been charged with "homicide by intoxicated use of a vehicle and causing injury by intoxicated use." Paul was a fishing pioneer and legend, and though the expression seems trite these days, he was truly "one of a kind."
5. Near World Record Marlin
Despite a world-class effort at this year’s Big Island Invitational Marlin Tournament in Hawaii, Molly Palmer found out the hard way that size really does matter. Palmer caught a would-be 1,022 pound world record marlin, but was disqualified because she had help reeling in the catch. In an act of integrity, though, Palmer told judges immediately what happened. She still has the catch of a lifetime.
4. Banner Blue Cat Day in S.D.
Corky Lemon and his fishing partner, Terry Matheny, had a magical day on the water on July 21st, as participants in a Big Sioux Catfish league event. While their fish count number wasn’t all that impressive—four fish between the two of them—the total weight of their haul—210.25 pounds—was incredible, including a potential new South Dakota state record blue cat that weighed a scale-breaking 99.25 pounds.
3. First Female Angler of the Year
Professional angler Marianne Huskey made fishing history when she won the Anglers Insight Marketing (AIM) Angler of the Year award. This marked the first time in the history of major professional fishing tournament circuits that a female angler has won an Angler of the Year award.
2. Two Records, One Day
Mark Foster, of West Albans, W.Va., hit it big on an outing at Robert C. Byrd Lock & Dam on the Ohio River. On September 24, 2012, he landed the new state record blue catfish, 44½ pounds and almost 44 inches long, on cut skipjack herring anchored by a 6-ounce sinker. Soon after, he brought another record fish to the bank, this time a 15-pound longnose gar that measured 52¼ inches. After certification by a biologist, both fish were released. That's one hell of a day.
1. Largest Yellow Fin Tuna Ever Caught
The two biggest yellowfin tuna ever were caught in 2012. John Petruescu caught a 445-pound yellowfin on a long-range charter boat out of San Diego, Calif. Although his fish was much bigger than the current record, it will not be a world record since the boat’s captain grabbed the fishing rod twice during the fight, disqualifying the fish under the rules of the International Game Fish Association (IGFA).
Another yellowfin is being considered as a new world record. Guy Yocom of Dana Point, Calif., caught his 421.5 pound yellowfin off Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. The fish was 88 ½ inches long and 64 inches in girth. It was caught on a Mustad hook and properly recorded during the Mustad Hook-a-Million contest.