March 26, 2012
An error on the part of a game warden might have cost one Oklahoma man a state record, but luckily, the warden caught up with him.
According to the Tulsa World, 45-year-old Benny Williams Jr. was on his way back from Cedar Lake in LeFlore County, Oklahoma, thinking he had narrowly missed catching a state record largemouth, when the game warden caught up to him at a nearby gas station.
"The game warden followed me. He came whippin' in behind me at the gas station and he said, 'I might have set the scale wrong, let me weigh it again. I might have made a big mistake,'" Williams said. "When he looked up and said 'you got it, you got the state record,' that's a moment I'm never going to forget."
Williams' bass weighed in at 14 pounds, 12.3 ounces and measured 26 inches long with a 22 3/8-inch girth. Williams' lunker barely beat the previous Oklahoma record, a 14-pound, 11-ouncer caught by William Cross on May 14, 1999, at Broken Bow Lake. Cross' bass was longer, measuring 28 inches with a 22.75-inch girth.
Williams' lunker may look a little smaller, but state officials said they had to look a little closer to get the truth.
"The fish was just exceptionally wide all across its back and down to its tail, so a typical girth measurement doesn't reflect that," said Gene Gilliland, assistant chief of fisheries for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. "... It depends on how close to spawning they are, but right before they spawn those eggs suck up a lot of water so they don't get bigger but they weigh more."
Williams set out Friday morning in unfavorable conditions, with heavy rains muddying the water. After using a variety of baits, Williams cast out a Strike King football-head jig with a Berkeley Chigger Craw in the 10-foot water, catching several decent bass before landing the record. His net tangled in some reel handles, Williams dipped his hand in the water, feeling around for the fish's lip.
"Man, it's crazy. I never hooked one that big. I tried to be calm but it's kind of hard," Williams said. "I put her in the boat and laid there a minute. I think I hollered but I'm not sure."
After the catch was certified and paperwork was filled out, Williams delivered the fish to Proof's On The Wall Taxidermy, where it will be made into a floor mount.