Fish tops current state record by less than a pound.
Lee Newman Jr. had one thing on his mind when he headed into Lake Borgne yesterday (July 21) – catching tripletail, but not on conventional tackle.
“I had some spinning tackle with me, but my goal was to catch them on a fly,” the Mandeville angler said.
The day ended with four tripletail in the box, with one of those being a pending state-record fish weighing 14 pound, 2.4 ounces.
Buddy Mike “Yscloskey” McCluskey, who had never caught a tripletail, was along for the ride and quickly put a fish in the boat.
And then Newman (aka neidamier on the LouisianaSportsman.com forum) got to work, riding the lake looking for the feisty fish around crab-trap floats and floating debris.
Newman found three fish quickly and caught each of them after correctly placing the shrimp-mimicking fly tied by his father, Lee Newman Sr..
“You really have to get the fly right on the nose of the fish,” the younger Newman explained. “They are very lazy fish.”
His fourth target was sighted as Newman and McCluskey cruised past a crab-trap float.
“It was nose up on it, laying up on its side,” Newman said. “I circled back to it.”
At that point, all the veteran angler could tell was that it was a nice-sized fish.
“I just knew it was bigger than the other fish I had caught,” he said.
Staying 30 to 40 feet away from the float, Newman began playing out line with a series of back casts. When he allowed the fly to touch the water, it was just off target.
The fish did show interest, though.
“He kind of came off the structure a little bit, and then went back to it,” Newman said.
The fly was snatched into the air again, and the second cast was right on target, right on the side of the float.
“He came off the structure a tiny bit to hit it,” Newman explained.
But this time, it sucked the fly in, and the angler slammed the hook home to begin a roughly 20-minute fight.
“These fish are unbelievable,” Newman said of the fight. “They are extremely scrappy.”
The leader held, however, and the fish was soon netted and brought aboard.
At that point, Newman’s radar went up and he placed a quick call to a buddy to have the current state record looked up.
“I thought the record was 11 pounds,” he said.
Actually, Capt. Eric Dumas of Living the Dream Guide Service holds the honor with a 13.55-pounder.
Confident that he had landed a fish that would at least threaten Dumas’ record, Newman pointed his boat toward Campo’s Marina to have the tripletail weighed.
The marina’s scales stopped at 14 pounds, 5 ounces. But Newman knew he needed to get the fish to a certified scale, so he made the run to Breton Sound Marina.
The certified weight was 14 pounds, 2.4 ounces.
Equipment used to land the fish included a 9-weight Orvis rod, an Orvis reel spooled with floating line and tipped with 10-pound leader with 8-pound tippet.
“It was rigged up and ready to go for redfish,” Newman said. “I probably should have put on a 15-pound leader and tipped it down to 10 pounds.”
Newman said he was proud to have caught the pending record, but he urged anglers to be conservative when fishing tripletail.
“You know, keeping a couple of fish on these trips is plenty; keeping 15 of them are too many,” he said. “I think there should be a two or three fish limit.”
He said that’s because they are so much more accessible than when tripletail move offshore.
“Whereas most of the time they’re scattered all over the Gulf, when they come inshore, they get concentrated, so they can be beaten up pretty bad,” Newman said.
Newman’s catch still has to be certified by the Louisiana Outdoor Writers Association to take the top spot on the Louisiana State Fish Records’ fly fishing category, and the angler said he was confident it wouldn’t remain the largest fly-caught tripletail for long.
“Next week Eric (Dumas) will go right out and break the record,” Newman laughed.
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