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Is the next record-breaking striped bass swimming in Lake Hamilton?


Tyson's Catch

Stephen Tyson Jr., of Camden, caught and released a striped bass he estimates to weigh more than 50 pounds during the Phoenix Bass Fishing League tournament on Lake Hamilton Feb. 16.


The 27-year-old angler said he fishes Hot Springs lakes about 30 times a year, and this fish is the largest fish he has ever caught anywhere.


"I never did get a chance to weigh it because I was, you know, in a tournament, and I didn't have time to mess around with the fish, so I was like, 'OK, take some pictures, do a video, make sure people can't say it's photoshopped and then release it.'"


Tyson said before this catch, the largest fish he had caught was a flathead catfish in the Ouachita River. That catch weighed over 40 pounds, and he said the fish he caught in Lake Hamilton on Wednesday was significantly heavier. So who knows? It may just outweigh the state record for a striped bass caught in Rogers's Beaver Lake, weighing in at 64 pounds and 8 ounces.


"I actually didn't have to release it," Tyson said. "I was fishing a tournament and I have a certain amount of time — I had eight hours to fish this tournament, and that particular species of bass wasn't the species of bass that we can weigh in that tournament.


"... I could have maybe brung it in and got the Arkansas Game and Fish involved and everything, and tell them, 'Hey, let's weigh this thing and see if it's a certified record or not,' but I was in tournament mode, and I have sponsors and stuff I represent too, and I was on a great pattern too, but I couldn't waste any time with this fish."


"... It kind of was like a mess up situation right there because here I am, probably holding the state record, and I didn't have time to mess with it. So this particular species, I couldn't do anything with it in that moment, so I was kind of forced to throw it back."


Tyson hooked the fish in the main lake area of Hamilton using a jerk bait, 10-pound test line and medium heavy Halo Crankin Rod.


"These fish don't reproduce ... so Arkansas Game and Fish has to stock these fish in these lakes ... so the only thing they can do is get bigger and bigger. I mean, there's possibly a chance I can run into this fish again, or another angler can run into this fish.


"This fish probably was put in there probably weighing two or three pounds, and there it is, I caught it, it was you know 50 plus. So that fish was an old fish, for sure."


An old fish, and quite possibly a dumb fish, he said, laughing.


Tyson's Catch

"They do bite again, so there's possibly a chance that someone can catch the same fish that I caught, especially if it's not the smartest fish," Tyson said. "If it's not that smart then it's going to keep eating anything in its way, so it's a good chance that's the reason I caught it because it wasn't educated."


Tyson will test his luck on another Hot Springs lake come Feb. 26 when his league fishes Lake Ouachita. But as for now, he says Lake Hamilton is his preferred fishing spot.


"Basically you have a lot of options on that lake because it's a big lake. As far as a big lake, you have the chance to catch a bigger fish, too. You know, a fish that ain't probably never seen a bait," he said, laughing.


"So bigger lakes like that usually have some bigger fish in them. You know, they have more space, more room, to pretty much grow to be that size of the fish that I caught."