Young angler catches record bluegill from Colorado River


Mar 11, 2001
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RECORD BLUEGILL FROM COLORADO RIVER -- matthews column 12sep01

Young angler catches record bluegill from Colorado River

       Matt Vaughn, a 16-year-old from Anaheim, caught a new Colorado River record for bluegill Sept. 2. The young angler tossed a nightcrawler off the dock of the Windmill Resort on the Parker Strip and caught a 2.92-pound bluegill to break the Colorado River record for this popular panfish.

       But the young angler was thinking more about the one that slipped away after his record catch.

       A year ago, Matt lost his father to a heart attack. The pair used to talk about catching record fish and what they would do, what it would be like.

       “I think he was smiling on me that day. He still is,” said the young angler.

       “My dad started talking fishing to me the day I was born, and he couldn’t wait to get me into shooting and hunting. He would tell me, ‘My Dad got me into hunting and fishing, but then he didn’t do it with me. I’m not going to do that with you,’ “ said Vaughn.

       Matt’s mother JoLee said that her husband Wayne kept that promise until the day he died, taking Matt fishing and surfing, even after long days at work. The family had a cabin at Lake Isabella and fished there frequently. Father and son were together all the time. “He was Matt’s best friend,” said Jo Lee.

       The love of the outdoors took over Matt, and even after losing his dad, he spends all his recreational time at the beach surfing, fishing, and now hunting. He took his hunter safety class this year, he was at the river with his uncle, Gene Thomason, for the dove opener. After the morning shoot, Matt was on the dock of the trailer park where they were staying. The morning dove shoot was over, but there was fishing close at hand.

       “I kept floating nightcrawlers under the dock and catching two and three pound smallmouth bass. That’s what I was doing when I hooked the big bluegill. At first, I thought it was another smallmouth, and then I saw the white belly. Then I thought it was a largemouth. And then it was, `whoa, that’s a big bluegill.’ I didn’t know bluegill got that big. The biggest I’d ever caught before that was maybe four ounces,” said Vaughn.

       Vaughn said that they figured it must be some kind of record, so the fish was weighed on a local supermarket scale to get a certified weight.

       It was indeed a record. The previous record for the Colorado River was 2-pounds, 11 1/2-ounces caught in 1989 from Lake Mead. Both California and Arizona have state records for bluegill that top three pounds for bluegill, but Arizona also keeps records just for the Colorado River and Matt’s fish is likely to be recognized as that record.

       Not only did Matt catch the record bluegill, he also shot his first dove on that trip, both a whitewing and a mourning dove.

       “I really felt like he was with me when I did finally get one,” said Vaughn. Then he laughed. “I shot a bunch, maybe five boxes of shells, to get four doves.

       “My dad didn’t get to see all this, but he saw it in heaven.”


May 30, 2001
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Glad to hear that youth are involved in hunting and fishing, although I'm not that old.
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