If you are going to fish, why not go for a world record?
That’s the attitude of Kelly Jo Hall, of Cortez, who continues to pile up records certified by the International Game and Fish Association.
When she is not at her day job finishing drywall, Hall heads off on weekend forays to regional lakes with boyfriend Joe Crosby to cast for more titles from shoreline.
So far, she has seven world records in women’s freshwater fishing, a category recently created by the IGFA.
“I love the challenge and the lakes,” Hall says.
In June and October 2019, Hall added four more to her resume for reeling in tiger muskies at Bluewater Lake, New Mexico.
The new records are: 4 pounds, 12 ounces for the 4-pound line class; 4-pounds, 6 ounces for the 6-pound line class; 5 pounds, 2 ounces for the 8-pound line class; and 5 pounds, 14 ounces for the 2-pound line class.
Tiger muskie are hybrid of a pike and a muskie. The sport fish are a finicky and elusive, Hall said, and they have a peculiar habit of burying their face in the sand to try and dislodge the lure.
“Luckily I caught the largest one on a flexible parabolic pole that bends and helps prevent the line from breaking,” she said. “You have to be very careful. It is stressful getting the big guy in without breaking the line.”
One tactic is to set a light drag and tire the fish by letting it run, then slowly reeling it back in, repeating as necessary.
Hall fishes from shore. She rigs up several poles at time, so if a lure fails or the line breaks, she can quickly cast out another one.
“The more time your lure is in the water, the better your chances,” she said.
Using fresh lines is important, because they become brittle when dried out.
Other skills are learning fish habits, lure selection, reading the water and studying lake topography to find the deep areas where fish hang out.
To submit for an IGFA record, pictures are taken of the length, girth and weight. The fish are released back to the water.
Hall uses basic fishing poles and reels, and does not use waders. She encourages other women to try for records.
“I encourage the ladies that when you are fishing with your guy, you may as well go for a record,” Hall said. “Right now, I’m actually in the top five of the world. The thrill of the competition motivates me. It is getting more exciting.”
She keeps track of what her competitors in Canada, New Zealand and Australia are catching.
Because of her success, Hall has been invited to compete in the upcoming IGFA Light Tackle Invitational in Palm Beach, Florida, but the travel expense is too much for her blue-collar pocketbook. She is considering seeking sponsorships to help cover costs of competition events.
When the snows melt, Hall’s next stop will be lakes in Utah to try and fill vacant records for tiger trout, a hybrid of brown and brook trout, and wiper, a cross between a white bass and striped bass.
One of the best perks of fishing is “seeing all of these beautiful places,” she says.