‘I thought it was just a fish,’’ Casey Bloom said.
More like the soon-to-be Wisconsin record for yellow bass.
Bloom, 84, was fishing, as he often does, with his son Gary, near their getaway in Winneconne, Wis., within touching distance of the bridge in the slack water off the bridgetender’s house.
Bloom was using minnows — his son worked streamer flies — for whatever was biting. Shortly after Winneconne’s noon siren sounded on April 21, Bloom hooked a fish and reeled it in.
‘‘I was hoping it was a walleye,’’ said Bloom, who realized it wasn’t. ‘‘My son said right away that it might be a record.’’
‘‘I fish in the front of the boat,’’ Gary Bloom said. ‘‘Whenever he hooks a fish, I ask him, ‘Feel good?’ He said, ‘Yes.’ When he brought it up, I could see it was yellow bass.’’
On the bump board, it measured 15 inches.
‘‘I would have put it back,’’ the elder Bloom said.
Instead, they took it to Wolf River Resorts. Unofficially, it weighed 2 pounds, 3 ounces. The Wisconsin record for yellow bass (2 pounds, 2 ounces) was a 141/4-inch one caught by Jim Thrun on Jan. 18, 1972, from Lake Monona in Madison.
Bloom left his fish swimming in the minnow tanks at Wolf River Resorts. Doug Nelson took it to the Piggly Wiggly in Winneconne to be weighed on the certified scale at 2.27 pounds, which would break the record by over 2 ounces.
The fish was such a freak that when senior fisheries biologist Kendall Kamke and biologist Ryan Koenigs came from Oshkosh, they weren’t certain it was a yellow bass. Kamke took photos, then sent them to ‘‘our state ID expert [biologist] John Lyons’’ in Madison.
‘‘He can pick a nondescript minnow out of the stream and say what it is,’’ said Kamke, who thought Bloom’s fish might be a hybrid.
But Lyons confirmed it as a yellow bass. All that remains is for the paperwork to be signed (which Casey Bloom planned to do over the weekend), submitted and approved.
Gary Bloom remembered ice fishing on the Chain O’Lakes a decade or so ago and catching yellow bass.
‘‘You catch all these little yellow bass, then you see the difference,’’ he said. ‘‘It was full of spawn and very wide.’’
Casey Bloom’s is a life wide in fishing experience, especially since his retirement in 1990 from a paper box company.
‘‘You could write a book about him,’’ said Bloom’s daughter, Mary Alice Graf.
She said the previous most important fish was the muskie he finally caught in 1971 in Canada, a place where she remembers climbing out of the water as a child and using Morton Salt to rid themselves of the leeches after swimming.
Bloom is a familiar face on the Chicago lakefront. More than 11 years ago, he popped up in a column when I perch-fished next to him at Navy Pier. He would like to be more of a lakefront regular, but at his age, life has its restrictions.
Now there’s another family fishing memory, one for the wall. The fish is at Simpson Taxidermy Studio in Winneconne.
‘‘He has been fishing since he was a little kid, born and raised in Bucktown,’’ son-in-law Larry Graf said. ‘‘When he is not fishing our lakefront, he spends his weekends up in Winneconne. And for him to catch this at 84 years old was very rewarding.’’