Big One Getting Away?

by Jay Kumar

Photo of Rodney Ply and his 68 lb striper
Rodney Ply with his 68-pounder striper. (Courtesy Rodney Ply)

Rodney Ply is living a fishing nightmare of the big one that appears to be getting away.

The Arkansas angler landed the largest freshwater striper and with it the hopes of earning $1.1 million in Mustad Hooks’ "Hook-a-Million" contest  -- $100,000 for a state record and a cool mil for the world record.

At 68 pounds, it looked certain to be a cash cow. The fish from Bull Shoals Lake topped the state record and the 12-year-old world record of 64.8.

Because the scale used was certified after the fact and no Arkansas Game and Fish Commission witnessed the weighing, the state has balked on giving Ply his due. The International Game Fishing Association approves the weight but not the lure Ply made, saying his multiple lure rig needed to have the line with the hooked fish break away from the spreader bar.

Ply is appealing to the IGFA executive committee and is not yet considering legal action.

"I'm just sick over it, really," he said. "I think they got so caught up in the controversy of the Alabama rig, they're afraid to do anything with my lure. It's a new lure, but it's nothing more than a spinnerbait with two hooks and five blades.

“I caught the record fish and should be in the record books for that record fish. The money ... that's life-changing for me and my family. A million dollars would change anyone's life. I'm not saying I don't need the money because I do. What I'm saying is, money's not everything in life. There are principles out there that have to be held up to a bigger standard."

Hopefully Ply’s fish story is not over.