Record? Or Not? Photo courtesy of Larry Fitzgerald
The debate about records amuses me. Baseball’s true home run king? Barry Bonds’ detractors say he wasn’t clean through rampant rumors of his alleged steroid abuse, and he didn’t endure the ignorant racist hate thrown at Henry Aaron – imagine if he Twitter was around in Hank’s era? (I’m anything but a Barry Bonds fan – in fact I detested his surly attitude – and love Hank Aaron’s courage, but baseball allowed years of drug abuse by its players, so there’s no debating that Bonds hit more home runs than Aaron, so end of argument in that context).
In the outdoor sports world, George Perry’s largemouth bass record of 22 pounds, 4 ounces is still official over 80 years later, but several reports have surfaced, like here, and here, and here, that have created plenty of controversy over the most famous fishing record in these parts.
So it’s not surprising that another apparent record seems to be in dispute. On Wednesday, media outlets reported a giant grizzly bear harvested by hunter Larry Fitzgerald in 2013 was determined to be the largest bear ever taken by a hunter.
Here’s a portion the Fox News report:
Although Fitzgerald shot the bear last September, Boone and Crockett, which certifies hunting records, has only now determined the grizzly, with a skull measuring 27 and 6/16ths inches, is the biggest ever taken down by a hunter, and the second largest grizzly ever documented. Only a grizzly skull found by an Alaska taxidermist in 1976 was bigger than that of the bear Fitzgerald bagged.
Bears are scored based on skull length and width measurements, and Missoula, Mont.-based Boone and Crockett trophy data is generally recognized as the standard. Conservationists use the data to monitor habitat, sustainable harvest objectives and adherence to fair-chase hunting rules.
But the Anchorage Daily News has a different take on the subject today, arguing that some of the news hasn’t been completely accurate, if technical:
Here’s the ADN’s Craig Medred on the confusion:
That a nine-foot grizzly is the largest bear killed by a hunter in Alaska is likely to come as a surprise to Alaskans, some number of whom — hunters or not — might have seen 10-foot grizzly bears. This small fact, however, seems not to have entered the consciousness of the mainstream media as of yet.
“Alaska bear largest to be killed by hunters,” headlined The Spokesman-Review in Washington state.
“An Alaska hunter bagged a massive grizzly bear that has been certified by the Boone and Crockett Club as the biggest bruin ever taken down by a hunter,” reported the New York Daily News.
Well, not exactly. There is no doubt that 35-year-old auto body repairman Larry Fitzgerald killed a nice trophy, but lost in all of the hullabaloo over his bear is the fine print that defines Alaska’s record bruins.
Fitzgerald’s kill is a record bear only because it was shot north of the Alaska Range. South of those mountains slicing through Denali National Park and Preserve, his bear would be just another big bear. That’s because the record-keeping Boone and Crockett Club arbitrarily splits Alaska brown/grizzly bears into two separate categories — grizzly bears and brown bears. The world-record Alaska brown bear, taken in Kodiak in 1952, is much larger.
The state of Alaska doesn’t recognize the distinction between a grizzly bear and an Alaska brown bear, nor do wildlife scientists. Both say the only real difference is diet.
So there you have it. Another debate for two hunters to have while sharing a Happy Hour draft at pubs everywhere.
Fly fishing season is upon us. Presently we are very busy loading up supplies and making sure Katmai Lodge is ready to open in June. We are very excited to begin this season with you.
Katmai Lodge would like to offer you a ONE-TIME SPECIAL PRICE of $5,000 for a SEVEN-NIGHT STAY on two of the most overlooked weeks of the year.
JUNE 28-JULY 5
This week was last year’s BEST for king and sockeye fishing as well as great trout and grayling. With the mild winter and early spring, the Alagnak River should be in prime shape for another early arrival of kings en masse.
Coupled with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game wanting to get sockeye escapement into the river, this is the most consistent week for non-stop numbers. It’s also a perfect time for trout and grayling on mice and other dry flies.
JULY 26-AUGUST 2
Always wanted to learn to fly fish? Catch that king salmon on the fly? This week of transition is the time 90 percent of our king run is already here and the chum salmon run is at its peak. With the onset of the pink salmon run and shots at silvers, the river will be boiling with fish (only sockeye are unavailable at this time) – and it is all here waiting for you, all at a time without pressure on the river though not for a lack of great fishing!
Katmai Lodge offers personalized fishing adventures for groups of all sizes and experience levels. Accessed through its private airstrip with its own amphibious equipped de Havilland Turbine Otter, the main lodge rests atop a bluff overlooking the Alagnak River, offering hundreds of miles of fishing in Alaska’s only designated Trophy Fishing Area.
Already one of the great fishing ecosystems in Alaska, fishing on the Alagnak continues to improve. The pristine river is uniquely home to all five Pacific salmon species along with native stream fish such as rainbow trout, Arctic grayling and Dolly Varden/char, with four or five salmon species spawning within 2 miles below and 45 miles above the lodge.
The region is also home to a diverse array of wildlife, which provides amazing photo opportunities.
An experienced guide staff personalizes each guest experience, making use of the lodge’s 40 boats to explore the full range of the Alagnak. Our river-based lodge is only 10 minutes away from tidewater. Its diverse fleet of both jet and prop boats allows for both sea-fresh salmon and rainbow trout fishing, while the lodge’s floatplane enables easy access to Katmai National Park for viewing the renowned Brooks Falls brown bears and for fishing the area’s many blue-ribbon trout streams.
When off the water, anglers are encouraged to enjoy the unrivaled amenities of Katmai Lodge, which boasts more square footage per guest than any other lodge in Alaska. World-class chefs prepare hearty breakfasts and gourmet dinners in the central dining room.
The main lodge includes a fully stocked fly-tying area complete with expert instruction, central gathering place, a clothing and gift shop as well as Internet access. Adjacent guest cabins welcome anglers to rest and relax, offering the privacy of individual common areas.
The high season for Alaskan salmon fishing at Katmai Lodge runs from late June through September, with trout season opening June 8th. For reservations or to inquire about group packages, anglers should visit the newly launched website at www.katmai.com or call 1 (800) 330-0326 for more information.