DEVILS LAKE, N.D. — After one year of careful planning and a commitment to his goal, Blake LaFleur finally caught the fish he was targeting. It came the day before Valentine’s Day on Devils Lake — likely the new International Game Fish Association line-class world record white bass.
To finally land the 4-plus pound fish on 2-pound test line and meet all the requirements of the IGFA, LaFleur studied the rules (15 pages of specific requirements), contacted the organization via phone and email and assembled the appropriate tackle.
The fish was 18 ½ inches long with a 16 inch girth. Two scales (recommended by IGFA) weighed the fish at 4.27 and 4.32 pounds. The current world record is 3.50 pounds. Both scales will go to IGFA with 50 feet of the line used — an Italian monofilament (Asso Micron Three) rated at 1.5-pounds, with a breaking strength of 1.6-pounds — for final confirmation.
“I broke the first six knots I tried to tie,” LaFleur said. He used a Palomar knot. A 4-pound fluorocarbon leader, approved by the IGFA, completed the rig.
The lure was a shiny 1/16–ounce Northland Buckshot rattle spoon, the rod a Thorne Brothers Sweetheart customized perch rod made to LaFleur’s specifications. It was 43 inches long — IGFA compliant — with a fast and soft tip and the necessary forgiveness on the thread-like fishing line.
“These big bass go crazy at the hole, and to turn one and bring it up, the leader was necessary,” LaFleur said. “The six-inch hole was another problem. When his head finally pointed up, he became wedged in the hole. I plunged my hand into the ice-cold water all the way to my armpit and grabbed it.”
LaFleur said he moved 25 times that day, hunting by drilling hundreds of holes until stumbling into a school of white bass.
“I had never fished that spot before,” he said of the main Devils Lake basin, in 40-feet of water.
For more information about Devils Lake, go to devilslakend.com or call the Tourism office at 701-662-4903.