Landing a new Montana state record fish wasn’t exactly what Jacob Fowler hand in mind when he went fishing at his favorite fishing hole on Monday last week on the south end of Flathead Lake, “I knew there were some nice size bass where I was fishing because I had caught a few fishing there in the past”, Fowler told me by phone on Monday. A self proclaimed trout angler Fowler just happen to be targeting bass with a rubber crawdad when he hooked into a very big smallmouth bass, “I knew it was a big fish because it came to the surface so I was able to see it before it made another run”.
He was using light tackle so it took him a while to land the fish. “Once I saw how big the fish was I ran to my car and called my brother to come and take a look at it, after seeing it he thought we should weigh it so we took it to Ronan Sports and Western in Ronan”, said Fowler who is only 20 years old and lifetime Polson residence.. Once they weighed the fish at the sporting goods store it was apparent that it might be a new state record but their scale is not a certified scale so the brothers went to the local grocery store in Pablo and had it weighed on a certified scale with witnesses, a condition required if you want your fish to qualify as a new state record fish in Montana.
The results were impressive. Fowler had a caught a 21 inch 7.4 pound small mouth bass that easily beat the current record fish that was caught by Melvin McDonald out of Fort Peck in August of 2013, that bass weighed 6.7 pounds and was 22.5 inches long. What is even more impressive is Fowler caught the small mouth bass out of Flathead Lake, which is not known for its small mouth bass fishing but for lake trout. In fact the state record lake trout was caught out of Flathead Lake in 2004. The lake is also the home of the state record lake whitefish that was caught in 2006. Kenny Breidinger who is the FWP fish biologist for Flathead Lake said that small mouth bass were introduced illegally into the lake a few years back and they have been catching smallmouth during their spring netting surveys for 5 years all over Flathead Lake.
“Since the smallmouth bass population is relatively new to the lake it is not unusual to see larger fish because there is less bass species competition for food so they grow bigger faster”, he said. ” I assume after the word gets out about Fowlers state record fish that area anglers will begin targeting bass a lot more on Flathead than have been”, said Breidinger.. After Fowler weighed his fish on the certified scale he went back to fishing, the exact location was not revealed by Fowler but he did say he was not in a boat, it didn’t take him long to catch another small mouth bass that he figures weighed a pound less than his new state record fish.
Not a bad storyline for an aspiring model that is scheduled to take a trip in two weeks to China for a modeling job. “I have been doing some construction jobs to pay the bills but it looks like my modeling career is about to take off fulltime in a couple of weeks”, said Fowler who has already done some modeling work for clothing retailer Ambercrombie and Fitch. So does Fowler think that catching a Montana state record fish will help his career? “I don’t know if it will help but the publicity sure won’t hurt, I am still in shock that the small mouth bass record is now mine it’s a pretty cool feeling for sure”.