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Official ElaZtech® Record

  This all started from a combination of things over the past couple months. One is the Z-man postings made several times about the record of 246 fish caught by Ned Kehde as the most fish caught on a single Z-man bait, and asking what everyone's record was, had they beat it, or could they beat it? Seems no one had. About that same time period, several of the fishing forums I hang out at had several Senko/O-ring threads that were happening, with guys talking about all the 'tricks' they use to get 6 or more fish out of a single bait - imagine that!

I had purchased a couple bags of TRD TicklerZ over the winter, but hadn't got around to fishing with them yet, until I tied one on and hit a local pond back on August 19. During that trip, I caught 50 bass on a single green pumpkin bait, and was surprised at how well the bait was holding up. It got me thinking that the design of this bait might be amenable to making a go of trying to take down the record. So began my quest to do just that. For the next month, every bass trip I took was with just this single bait, along with a tiny pack of jig heads to use and adapt as needed. As it turns out, the bait is more durable than many jig heads, as I had to throw out several over the course of challenge because they broke down (all competitor brands - the Gophers and ShroomZ held up fine).

I was able to break the 100 fish count on August 27, and was feeling pretty good. I soon found out that the further along I got in the endeavor, the more nervous I became about losing that bait. I started checking my line and retying more frequently, just to be safe. I also had to be careful about throwing out into the "unknown" and risking snagging and breaking the bait off. I also had to be a little less forceful when hooking bigger fish so they didn't break me off.

Along the way, I learned a few tricks about using the bait and the design of certain jig heads, how the barbs played a big role in how well a bait would stay secured, different ways of hooking the bait, etc. I never used any glue to secure the bait, as I didn't want to risk potentially tearing it further when I needed to change jig heads or weights.

As for the bait itself, you get creative with retrieves in an effort to catch as many fish as you can considering you only have a single style of bait to use. I did a lot of straight swim retrieves, fishing the bait like a swim jig over grass flats and parallel to banks. Of course, there was also a lot of bottom hopping and slow swimming out in slightly deeper water. The most creative was fishing the bait like you would a frog over slop. One particular pond had two sharp corners in it, and a lot of floating algae mats. Whenever the wind blew good from a certain direction, those mats would get blown into one of the corners and pile up. It was cool to pitch a 1/32 oz open hook jig head over the mats and have bass blow up through the mats to get the bait. The bait catches lots of moss, but the fish are under all that stuff and can't tell that the bait is trailing a bunch of moss - they only see the profile of the larger mass. Subsequently, I added quite a few key bites doing this whenever I found this condition - just another way to be creative using the bait. I still had to be careful though about a large fish hanging me up in the slop since I was just using 8# leader line on my ML spinning rod, but it worked.

Sept. 1 and 135 bass in, and the bait looked in good shape still. Still had all my tentacles, and no big rips or tears.

By Sept. 8 and 175 fish in, the bait was starting to look a little ragged . Very scuffed up, but still all the tentacles, though you can see one that is partly ripped off. At this point, I was still feeling pretty good about the whole deal, but I also still had over 70 fish to go, and I was averaging just over a dozen bass per trip during the pond rotations. I added in a small reservoir and was able to add a couple dozen bass on Sept. 9. On Sept. 12, I picked off 5 more fish and got over the 200 fish mark - closing in.

I picked up another 11 fish the next day, then decided to get adventurous and add two new ponds into the rotation. I picked up a few bass from the first, but none from the second. In fact, disaster almost struck when I momentarily hung my bait up on something well out into the lake. Brief panic set in., but I was able to do a couple bow-and-arrow snaps and the bait popped free. That was close - lesson learned, and I never went back to those ponds since I wasn't intimately familiar with their layout like I was the other several waters. Trips that same day to two of those ponds yielded another 14 bass, and getting me to 232 total fish on the single bait, the picture of the bait after those trips is included.

At this point, I was using the double barbed jig heads a lot (OG and Gopher), and I had to do other things like double threading the hook point for extra grip to keep the bait up. You can see I also lost that ripped tentacle, but things were looking good - less than 14 fish away from the record.

Sept. 15 I add another dozen bass and get within 2 fish - I've got this now. I decide to finish off at the local reservoir by boat, thinking I can add another couple dozen or more. I'd like to try and beat the record by about 20 or 25 fish or so, just so there is a little cushion. I make that trip the next day on the 16th. I start off a little slow, but get the 3 fish I need in the first 45 minutes to break the record. Now it's just be cautious and see how many I can catch. After today, the quest is over regardless of what that final number looks like. I move uplake into a little more stained water thanks to some recent rains, and find more biting fish. I retie after the first 6 fish just to be safe.

Another 5 more down, all of which took the bait deep, and I decide to retie again. I'm being overly cautious, and I'm about to pay for it. I now have 11 fish so far that day and only 75 minutes in, a total of 255 fish in total, when I start that retie. I cut the bait off, then go to clear a bunch of moss that had accumulated on the line. I have the bait and the moss in one hand, and not thinking, I go to flick the moss off my fingers. The moss flies off, but the bait goes flying with it, over the side of the boat and hits the water - then promptly sinks. I'm sure the look of horror on my face at that point was priceless.

The depth finder says 3.6 ft, but it's murky enough I can't see bottom - or the bait. I spend 20 minutes trying to use my net to scoop up moss right where I think the bait hit, hoping I'll get lucky and the light bait might just be sitting on top of it all, but no such luck. Even the local homeowner that lives in the house right there came out and asked what I was doing - lol. I'm devastated - the challenge ends right then. So I didn't get the padding I wanted, but I unofficially did get the record. Here are some more of the details;

Fish: 255 (245 bass; 5 pumpkinseed; 2 bluegill; 2 green sunfish; 1 bullhead)
Trips: 19
Hours: 32 hrs 11 min
Catch Rate: 7.61 bass/hr, 7.92 fish/hr
Dates: Aug 19 - Sep 16

I only used my one finesse outfit for every fish caught. It is as follows:

Rod: 6'6" Shimano Clarus ML
Reel: Lews Mach One Speed Spin MH200
Line: YGK SS112 sinking braid 14# and using an 8# leader of clear Stren mono
Knots: FG leader knot; SDJ bait knot

-Brian Waldman

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