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A new world record?

On Oregon Waters, Larry Ellis, 
hen Ranse Fife of Brookings hopped aboard the recreational charter vessel Super Star on Tuesday, he was just hoping to catch a limit of garden-variety rockfish and lingcod that the vessel’s clients frequently bring home to the dinner table. Little did Fife know that he would actually be going one-on-one with a potential world-record rockfish.

Fife specifically caught a vermilion rockfish – a 15.5 pounder to be exact, and to his advantage, the fish was weighed in by one of the Port of Brookings Harbor’s port samplers on one of ODFW’s very accurate hand-held digital scales.

It was the Arnold Schwarzenegger of vermilion rockfish, almost as big around as it was long – a Fishinator if I’ve ever seen one. Up until that fateful Tuesday, the present-day record vermilion was a 12-pound specimen caught out of Depoe Bay by Joseph Lowe back in 1990.

Ranse Fife, of Brookings, holds the 15-1/2 pound vermillion rockfish he caught while fishing aboard the Super Star off the coast of Brookings on Tuesday. Courtesy of Curry Coastal Pilot

«Ranse Fife, of Brookings, holds the 15-1/2 pound vermillion rockfish he caught while fishing aboard the Super Star off the coast of Brookings on Tuesday. Courtesy of Curry Coastal Pilot

In a past July 7, 2012 fishing report for the Curry Coastal Pilot, my fishing column highlighted the vast potential of the numbers of record-breaking fish that were doing the backstroke outside the Port of Brookings Harbor. One of the fish that I predicted would be a new world record was a vermilion rockfish, and I forecasted that the vermilion would be caught out of the Port of Brookings Harbor.

It may have taken four years for my prediction to come to fruition, but here we are today looking at Tidewind Sportfishing (the business who owns the Super Star), going through the arduous process of getting that fish certified by IGFA, the International Game Fish Association. To be listed in IGFA’s “World Record Game Fishes” publication is an honor that is second to none.

Fife will always remember that day as if it was yesterday.

“We all limited out on black rockfish so we switched over to fish for lingcod,” he remembers. “So when I first had this fish on, at first I thought I had a monster lingcod on because of the way this thing was stripping line. I would reel in a few more turns and then it would take out another 50 feet of line.”

Toward what Fife thought truly must have been the end of the fight, the fish was brought toward the surface of the water and was inched closer toward the side of the boat. That’s when fight began.

“When I got it up to the surface and really close to the boat, it decided to go underneath the boat and it came out the other side,” he recalled. “So I had to release my line so that the crew could gaff it. I was just praying that it was hooked well. On top of that the line was rubbing on the keel, and that’s when I thought to myself that the line was going to break for sure.”

But the fish was finally gaffed and brought aboard the Super Star.

“That really made Kyle’s day,” said Fife. “He looked at it in astonishment and said, ‘Man this might be a record – and I think it is. I’ve never seen one this big!’”

That’s when Kyle Aubin, the captain of the Super Star got on the internet, found one of my old articles and knew he had the real enchilada. He called Scott Graves, editor of the Curry Coastal Pilot and told him that he was bringing in a potential world-record vermilion rockfish that appeared to be close to 16 pounds.

Scott relayed the information to me and I made tracks for the boat.

As it turned out, I was about one-half hour late, but Aubin’s weight estimate was very close to 16 pounds – 15.5 pounds!

As I have always said, people eat more world record fish in Brookings than any other coastal town I know. The closest I actually came to taking a photo of that world-record vermilion was carried away in the form of 2-inch fillets inside of a plastic bag.

I will be keeping readers apprised of the IGFA weight certification process, which usually takes between 3 and 9 months. I’ve known it to take as long as a year.

Tight lines!

Larry Ellis, author, writer, columnist and photographer has had a 50-year passion for fishing in California and Oregon's saltwater and freshwater venues. He is a well-known writer for Oregon, Washington and California Fishing and Hunting News, Northwest Sportsman, California Sportsman and Pacific Coast Sportfishing. He currently writes monthly for Salmon Trout Steelheader Magazine, and is the weekly fishing columnist for "On the Water" for the Curry Coastal Pilot Newspaper. He particularly loves living in his hometown of Brookings, Oregon - The heart of salmon country and gateway to fishing paradise. Posted with permission of the Curry Coastal Pilot of Brookings, Oregon

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