Friday, October 10, 2008

Aged angler overcomes 150-pounder

By Ed Zieralski

At 97, pardon Dr. David Jessop for bragging a bit about a recent catch.

Not only is Jessop still walking around at 97, but he's still catching big fish, too. That was Jessop this week, fishing with his buddy George Cowan, who is a youngster at 88, tussling with a black seabass he estimated to be well over 150 pounds.

“It looked like it was 6 feet long and 500 pounds by the time I got it up close enough to see it,” Jessop said. “But George said it was more like 150 pounds. I was pretty excited.”

Yeah, and why not? Jessop hooked the protected black seabass on a lightweight bass outfit, using an anchovy pinned to a small No. 1 hook.

“We were just outside the Mission Bay Jetty, and I threw over to try and land a sand bass or something like that,” Jessop said. “It took me over an hour to get it to the boat, and the only reason I did is because George did such a masterful job running the boat. I could have been spooled a couple times there.”

Jessop is already a member of the San Diego Bass Fishing Hall of Fame in the Hall of Champions, but his legend continues to grow. It's safe to say he may be the oldest angler ever to catch and release a 150-pound black seabass. anglers: Did a little research after hearing of Jessop's catch. Found a story about Blanche Seccombe, 106, Montana's oldest angler. She participated in the 15th annual Fishing Without Barriers Day on Flathead Lake in Montana in July. Blanche, who lives in Bigfork, didn't catch any fish, but at 106, she's still getting around. Blanche's secret to longevity: “I eat bacon every morning,” she said. “Crisp bacon.” of Famer: If you get a chance, stop in Barnacle Bill's Bait and Tackle on 7292 Broadway in Lemon Grove to congratulate Bill Van Wulven on his nomination to the San Diego Bass Fishing Hall of Fame. Because of the outrageous fee that Hall of Champions officials charge for events, Van Wulven will be inducted into the Hall at a ceremony Oct. 21 at the La Mesa Recreation Center. Call Van Wulven at (619) 461-1214 for information about the event and tickets. sightings: Every once in a while I'll hear a wild story about an unusual critter being spotted in the backcountry. That's in addition to the usual suspects like mountain lions, wild pigs, Eurasian doves and such. The sightings all pack intrigue, but the one Jessop told me about recently really got my attention. Jessop said he and his traveling party were in the Pine Creek Wilderness area recently when they saw what they believe was a black jaguar. A melanistic, or black jaguar, is a result of melanism, an increased amount of black or nearly black pigmentation, melanin. It's the opposite of albinism. It's not the first time I've heard of such a sighting. I've talked to folks in Julian who swear they've seen jaguars or black panthers up that way, too. Farther east there are more and more reports of jaguar sightings, the spotted cat that once roamed the Southwest, but was extirpated. lions: Spend a little time on the East Coast, which I do, and pretty soon you hear stories of big cats roaming the hillsides. In Northwest Pennsylvania, farmers and hunters talk of seeing mountain lions. Coyotes have become more and more prominent there and are having their way with deer herds. In Central New Jersey, the owner of an alpaca farm said there was a mountain lion sighting in his driveway. I told him his fence may not be high enough. Those cute critters look too much like a fuzzy deer.

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