When 7th-grader Ian Mizell set the hook on a big fish on the Bogue Chitto River last month during a family camping trip, his dad John wasn’t even thinking about the state record books.
But at that point, he didn’t realize his son was battling a giant striped bass that potentially would have landed in Louisiana’s Top 5 of all time.
“Whenever he hooked it, I wasn’t even looking at him,” the elder Mizell said. “He just hollered at me, “Daddy!”
“And I looked back and saw how bent the pole was, and he couldn’t reel it in.”
So John grabbed the Zebco 33 and helped his son reel in the beast, ending its chances to land in the state record books maintained by the Louisiana Outdoor Writers Association.
LOWA rules state only one person may handle the rod, reel or line while the fish is being hooked, played or landed.
“He tried to reel it in and he couldn’t. I could not get it certified because I grabbed the pole since he couldn’t reel it in himself,” Mizell explained. “If he wouldn’t have worked the drag right it would have just popped the line, so I did help him there.”
Official record or not, the striper was a monster, tipping two different scales at 37.1 pounds and measuring a whopping 38 inches long.
“I had no idea we’d catch one that big. My buddies go down there and we’ve caught some 10-, 15-pounders,” he said. “But nobody ever saw one that big come out of there — not recently.”
Mizell said his son, who attends Lee Road Junior High in St. Tammany Parish, was fishing on the bank using a Speck Tail rig on 15-pound mono line when the big fish bit on March 10 as sunlight faded.
The depth where they were fishing was about 6 feet, and the river was about 50 yards wide at that point.
“We were near a spillway/dam deal,” he said. “We just cast out toward the middle and reeled it on back to us behind the turbulence.”
The giant fish put up quite a battle, he said.
“We got it in about five times, and each time it would go back on out. The first time we got it close to the bank, it rolled and took off. That’s when we realized how big the fish was, but even at that point, I wasn’t thinking 37 pounds,” he said. “We had no net — nothing. We finally just pulled it up to the edge of the bank and it came belly-up to us.
“We walked down and grabbed it.”
Mizell is getting the monster mounted for his 12-year-old son, a keepsake of a great family camping trip on the Bogue Chitto that neither likely will ever forget.
“He loves fishing. Once we realized how big it was, we started looking at all the records,” Mizell said. “But he’s pretty happy.”
The No. 1-ranked striped bass in Louisiana was caught in August of 1991 by James L. Taylor on Toledo Bend, and weighed 47.5 pounds, according to LOWA.