Ernie Lyons, longtime editor of the Stuart News, was no stranger to big snook. During his time, he caught dozens that would have impressed the saltiest jetty angler.
It seems fitting that the latest record snook catch would come in the shadow of the bridge that now bears Lyons' name.
On the night of Sept. 8, 2011, at 1:30 a.m., angler Alexandre Lafage, of Saint Perdon, France, hooked what he knew was a big snook while fishing under the Ernie Lyons Bridge across the Stuart Causeway.
Following a 30-minute battle that involved nifty trolling motor maneuvers and several near break-offs on bridge fenders and pilings, Lafage had reeled in a record.
Lafage was one of three guests of Patrick Sebile, the well-known lure manufacturer and French native who now lives in Fort Pierce. The party was fishing with Capt. Andy Tasker of Stuart's Capt. Andy Charters.
"It was during the fall mullet run and the snook were thick at the bridge there," Tasker explained. "It was a big snook for 10-pound test tackle."
Sebile, a representative of the International Game Fish Association, was at the time the world record holder for the spotted seatrout all tackle length record. He knew the catch would qualify as the all tackle length record for the Atlantic snook species category.
They measured the fish, photographed it and quickly recorded all the necessary information before releasing it back into the Indian River Lagoon.
The fish measured 92 cm (36.22 inches) to its fork which is standard method for IGFA length records.
Lafage caught the fish on a Sebile Magic Swimmer in the rainbow trout color, Tasker said.
Also, in February, Sebastian angler Gary Beach set the new IGFA length record for spotted seatrout with a 79 cm (31 inches) catch with Sebastian fishing guide Capt. Gus Brugger.
Lafage will always have the memory of the record snook catch, but, according to IGFA world records coordinator Jack Vitek, two larger snook catches are pending. At 98 cm (38.58 inches) and 99 cm (38.98 inches), respectively, each would supplant the catch if approved.
To submit an all tackle length record, an angler must have an "IGFA Measuring Device."
They can be purchased for $49.95 from the IGFA Fishing Hall of Fame & Museum in Dania Beach or from its website.
To purchase one online or find out more about length records, visit www.igfa.org or call 954-927-2628.