Tim Delaney might have been fishing with a 2-foot kiddie pole on Iatt Lake Saturday evening, but the pint-sized tackle didn’t stop the 33-year-old Prospect angler from reeling in potentially the biggest bream ever to land in the Louisiana record books.
The giant bluegill was 11 ½ inches long, 6 inches from belly to back and 2 inches thick across the bottom of its chest. Delaney estimated the widest point of the fish from fin to fin was about 3 inches.
The monster tipped certified scales at 1.83 pounds, and if pending paperwork is certified by the Louisiana Outdoor Writers Association, it will become the new No. 1-ranked bluegill in the state, passing up the 1.63-pounder caught by Oliver Hertzog in Old River in 2008.
“It was massive,” said Delaney, 33, an equipment operator at Cenla Recycling in Alexandria. “The Wildlife and Fisheries biologist in Tioga said he’s shocked waters and brought a bunch of fish to the top and seen some crazy stuff, but he’s never in his lifetime seen a bluegill anywhere near that one.
“He was amazed.”
Delaney and his wife Mickie had headed out for an evening bream trip on Iatt Lake Saturday to beat the late-May heat.
“We got in there as the sun was going down so we didn’t have to burn up and be miserable,” he said. “She can’t handle that sun, so I guess we got out there about 4:30 or 5, and it was about 6:30 when I caught the fish right before dark.”
Delaney had actually been bass fishing when Mickie — who always uses 2-foot poles to bream fish — found a bed amongst cypress trees with plenty of action in about 7 to 8 feet of water.
“She went to picking them up as fast as she could put crickets on, so I set my bass rig down and picked up one of those little bitty 2-foot long kiddie poles — that’s all we had in the boat,” he said with a chuckle. “We were steadily putting bream in the boat, but it was getting late so we were going to go and come back the next morning and hit it again.”
That’s when Delaney decided to make a cast over near a submerged stump just to the left of the trees where the bulk of the bites were coming from.
“As soon as it hit, the cork left and I swore it was a bass,” he said. “It took off like a rocket. It was nowhere similar to a bream. It grabbed it and took off and instead of running to the trees or back to the bed like a normal bream would do, it went to the deep water like a bass.
“It came around the boat to the other side, and with that little kiddie pole it was just steadily taking line. So I just held the line with my hand, steadily pulling, and it came up and wrapped the trolling motor. I thought it was going to break me off.”
He finally worked the big fish free of the motor, pulled it around the bow of the boat and just held on to the 2-foot pole as the panfish battle raged.
“I eventually got it close enough, and just grabbed the line with my hand and pulled the slack out like a cane pole and just swung it up in the boat,” he said. “That’s all I could do.
“I knew it was a good one, but I didn’t know it was what it was until it hit the bottom of the boat.”
When Mickie saw the giant fish, some good-natured ribbing between husband and wife took place.
“She said, ‘I hate you. That should have been my fish,’” Delaney said with a laugh. “I got on my phone instantly and went to looking up to see what the record was. Mickie said, ‘That fish is probably like 3 pounds.’ I was like, ‘I don’t know about 3 pounds, but it’s big.
“When I saw the record, I said, ‘Oh yeah, if this is not the record, it’s right there with it. I didn’t have any fishing scales with me.”
By the time they got off the water Saturday evening, Delaney couldn’t find a local business open with Department of Agriculture-certified scales — a requirement for the record books. So he had to wait until Monday and headed over to Town & Country Meats in Alexandria, where the giant bream weighed-in officially at 1.83 pounds.
The bream is already at a taxidermist, along with an 8-pound-plus bass Delaney caught last year in Nantachie Lake near Montgomery. He plans on mounting the fish together in an underwater scene on a piece of cypress.
So to recap, Delaney reeled in a potential new state record bream with a 2-foot fishing pole. Not a bad day on the water — even if that meant filling out some of the certification paperwork noting what type of rod and reel he used was a little funny.
“There was actually a Sponge Bob pole in the boat, and at first I couldn’t remember if that was the one I was fishing with or not,” Delaney said. “Wildlife and Fisheries got a good kick out of that.”