A Georgetown, Del., man caught a state record largemouth bass last week -- and then let it go.
According to The (Salisbury, Md.) Daily Times, James D. Hitchens reeled in a 10-pound, 10-ounce female largemouth measuring 26 inches long with an 18.75-inch girth.
Hitchens said he had set out to his favorite fishing hole with every intention of beating his personal best -- never mind the previous state record.
"I've never had one over eight pounds," Hitchens said. "So I was hoping for over eight pounds."
After catching the lunker with a live minnow, Hitchens took the bass to Taylored Tackle Shop in Seaford, Del., where it was kept alive in an aerated tank while the catch was certified by Delaware Division of Natural Resources and Environmental Control Fisheries biologists Nathan Rust and Jordan Zimmerman, after which Hitchens released the fish back where it came from -- a customary practice for him.
"I put her right back where she came from," said Hitchens. "I release all my big fish."
The move was applauded by Delaware wildlife officials.
"We encourage catch and release fishing in Delaware, especially with larger fish like this one," said another Fisheries biologist, Cathy Martin. "Not only will this fish be back out there for other anglers to enjoy, it should also see another spawning season to pass on its good genes to another generation of largemouth bass and thereby improve our bass stock."