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Lady angler scores 76.1-pound April seabass, largest ever by female angler

BY BLAKE WARREN/WON Staff WriterPublished: May 09, 2018

DANA POINT — The early, gray morning of April 17, Cathy Needleman of Los Angeles saw lots of birds, some whales in the nearby coastal kelp lines and a ton of bait in the water while on a charter trip with Capt. Brandon Hayward of Bight Sportfishing. Things just looked ripe for something really good to happen. And boy, did it ever.

ladyanglerand
A LADY ANGLER and her trophy seabass, a 76.1 pounder landed on live squid on a sliding sinker rig with a 7/0 Aki Twist hook and a 60-pound Seaguar leader connected to 65-pound Izor braid. The fish would be a pending women’s all-tackle record if submitted and approved, which Capt. Hayward says they plan on doing.


Posted up on anchor right out front of Dana Point proper, Needleman was soaking a piece of live Catalina squid that was made at the isthmus a night prior. At 9 a.m., Cathy’s dad’s older glass Calstar went bendo in a big way and she was on. The tanker seabass made the species’ obligatory and telltale big run, and Needleman managed to get the bruiser fish to color where Hayward was eagerly waiting and armed with the gaff.


WHAM! The gaff hit home and the monster hit the deck. There was no doubt this was a true giant.


The huge ghost would ultimately tip the scales at a jaw-dropping 76.1 pounds, the largest-ever seabass by a lady angler, and one of the top five white seabass taken by rod and reel in California. The 76-plus biscuit would be a pending women’s all-tackle record if submitted and approved by the IGFA, which Hayward says they plan to do in the relatively near future.


tankerondeckTANKER ON DECK — Cathy Needleman admires the largest-ever seabass catch by a lady angler.


“Cathy fishes the hardest of anyone I fish with,” Hayward said. “She will literally cast all day, every two minutes, as if she’s fishing by stopwatch. I have now seen her catch 7 fish over the 60-pound mark — as crazy as it sounds, we’ve been fishing for a 70 pounder the past few seasons. Now hers is the sixth fish over 70 that we’ve had at Bight Sportfishing.”


Needleman would go on the next two days and land two more big seabass, though nothing quite measures up when you’re talking about a nearly 80-pound giant.


“I know better than to have expectations when it comes to fishing, especially when it comes to this fish [seabass]. It was breezy and cold and it rained the last day we fished, but it didn’t matter. One of the many reason I love to fish with Brandon is because he targets these big fish.


“I caught a 76.1, a 58 and a 38 pounder over three days for a one-fish limit each day,” she continued. “But that 76 waa a day for the memory books.”


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