On February 12, Nick Dulleck of San Jose caught and released a potential world record spotted bass weighing 11 pounds, 4 ounces at Bullards Bar Reservoir on the Yuba River.
If certified as a world record by the International Game Fish Association (IGFA), the fish would eclipse the spotted bass of 10.8 pounds caught by Cody Meyer in December 2016. Meyer’s fish was also caught at California’s big spotted “bass factory,” Bulllards Bar Reservoir.
If recognized as a state record by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Dulleck’s fish would also shatter the state record spotted bass record of 11 pounds, 3 ounces caught by Lou Ferrante at Bullards Bar in February 2015. Although Ferrante’s fish was certified as a California state record, it was not recognized d as a world record by the IGFA.
Dulleck’s fish measured 24.5 inches in length and 20.75 inches in girth, making it an exceptionally fat and healthy bass.
Bullards Bar has probably produced more spotted bass over 10 pounds than any lake in the U.S., with at least 6 fish over 10 pounds caught since 2015. The lake’s abundance of small kokanee salmon, a favorite bass food, is a key reason why it has kicked out so many record class in the past couple of years.
The 33-year-old, who works full time as a portfolio trader, went to fish the lake with his friend Adam McAndrews in his boat as part of Dulleck’s birthday celebration.
After fishing the lake all day on Saturday and catching only two bass in the 1 to 2 lb. range, the angling duo got on the lake at 9 am out of the Dark Day boat ramp after staying the night at a motel in Yuba City.
Dulleck had gone to the lake expressly for the purpose of catching a record – spotted bass – and that is exactly what he did. “I was there with the world record in mind,” explained Dulleck.
“About an hour into trip at 10 a.m., I had a small tick on my line,” he disclosed. “I reeled down and set the hook. The fish felt big. It fought pretty hard, but I horsed it in. It took 1 minute and 4 seconds to get it in.”
He hooked the bass while fishing a Dirty Jigs Finesse Football Jig with a Yamamoto Double Tail, used with a baitcasting rod and a Shimano Curado 201 HG with 20 lb. test braided line and a 12 lb. test leader.
McAndrews then netted the bass and then carefully pulled it onto the back of the deck.
“We were both freaking out,” said Dulleck. “Both of us were super shocked by the size of the fish.”
“It was a moment of shock when we knew how big it was,” Dulleck told Bassmaster magazine. “I said, ‘That might be it.’ He’s like, ‘That might be it.’ I doubted myself. Maybe not, but either way it’s a giant.’ He said, ‘No, that’s it. That’s the world record.’”
Using two GoPros running simultaneously, Dulleck and McAndrews weighed the fish on the boat and then went to shore and privately weighed the fish on film. The scale wavered between 11.24 and 11.26 pounds, averaging out at 11.25 pounds – 11 pounds 4 ounces.
Forty-five minutes later, the two went to shore at the boat ramp where five people witnessed the weighing of the fish, again while two GoPros were simultaneously running.
Again, the scale wavered between 11.24 and 11.26 pounds. After weighing the fish for the third time, the two successfully released the huge bass into the lake.
“I’m definitely excited,” said Dulleck. “This catch has inspired me to fish more and become a professional angler.”
“I must give credit to McAndrews, a longtime friend,” he emphasized. “He’s fished the lake a lot more than I have.”
Dulleck got his start fishing in San Jose area lakes, including Almaden Lake and many small private ponds. Up to this point, his biggest-ever bass were two largemouths in the 10 to 12 lb. class. Dulleck has fished float tube tournaments, but doesn’t own a bass boat.
“I’ve been fishing my whole life,” Dulleck stated. “I purchased the Fish Sniffer for years in San Jose. I trout fished for many years, particularly in Saddleback Lake and the Tuolumne River in Tuolumne Meadows.”
“I have bass fished for 20 years, as well as fishing for halibut, dorado, salmon, striped bass and other species in saltwater. I like bass fishing best, though, because it’s all about being methodical and there’s some science behind it,” he stated.
Dulleck has submitted all of the paperwork and video documentation for the IGFA and the CDFW certification. The scale he used to weigh the fish has been certified by the IGFA. He said it normally takes 2 months for the IGFA to certify a record.
“I expect the fish to be certified as a world record. I think we did everything we could do to document the catch,” he concluded.
Ironically, Dulleck landed his pending record bass on the same day that over 188,000 people in the cities of Oroville, Marysville, Yuba City and adjoining areas received an evacuation order because of the potential failure of the emergency spillway at Lake Oroville. Dulleck and McAndrews didn’t find out about the evacuation until they stopped in a store on their way home to San Jose.
Nick Dulleck of San Jose caught and released this pending world record 11 lb. 4 oz. spotted bass at Bullards Bar Reservoir on February 12.
Photo courtesy of NICK DULLECK.