A 6-year-old girl recently set a record for the biggest bass ever caught during a Plant City fishing derby for children.
Julia Kripas, a Wilson Elementary School first-grader, hauled in a 5 pound, 2 ounce bass at the March 23 derby. The fish was more than a pound heavier than the previous derby record bass.
“We couldn’t believe how big it was,” said Deborah Haldane, program manager for the Plant City Recreation and Parks Department. “It was nearly as big as she was.”
The derbies have been held at least twice annually for 17 years at a pond near Plant City Stadium.
Julia, daughter of Josh and Elizabeth Kripas, caught her lunker with a Culprit plastic lizard. The Culprit tackle company was one of the derby’s sponsors and supplied packages of its artificial baits.
Josh Kripas said his daughter’s first catch of the day was a 3 pound, 8 ounce bass. About 10 minutes later, she tried her luck again in the same spot.
“We knew it was big but we didn’t know it was a record until later. It was awesome,” he said.
Julia started saltwater fishing with her family as a 2-year-old but this was the first time she’d fished in fresh water, her dad said.
Julia won the Beat Captain Tom trophy, named for derby sponsor T.A. Mahoney, along with a tackle box and rod, given to all derby winners.
Overall, the fish weren’t doing much biting during the derby for children 5 to 15 years old, Haldane said. The 57 anglers caught a total of 20 fish, although they tended to be larger ones, she said.
Other winners included:
Children who didn’t win a prize were given a coupon for free Sonic ice cream, Haldane said.
Julia’s record-bass was not the largest fish ever caught in the derbies. A 6-pound, 6-ounce mudfish landed in February 2008 was the heaviest on record, followed by a 5 pound, 6 ounce caught caught in June 2007.
All fish caught during the derbies are released back into the pond.
The next derby will be in September.