Those Milestone Pounds and Inches

That's my friend Charlie Levine, Senior Editor of our sister publication Marlin, in the photo below. He sent me the shot a few days ago, pumped as all get-out because he's holding his first 10-pound largemouth. He caught it in Florida's Stick Marsh from the airboat of Captain Mike Tipton. Though I find it a bit funny that a guy from Marlin is sending largemouth shots, I commend Charlie, because 10 pounds is definitely a major weight goal for bass hunters. It seems as though all species have those milestone pounds and inches.

In terms of trout, we all want our first 20-incher. I remember mine fondly because the big brown ate a fly I tied. Muskie freaks want to see the tail past the 50-inch mark on the tape. Among the striper crowd, 50 pounds used to be the life goal, though recently I feel like more anglers are just as proud of their first 40-pounder. I guess serious billfishermen still dream of 1,000-pound "grander" marlin, though Charlie would know better.

But sometimes the most memorable pound or inch goals are not those dictated by anglers as a whole, but those personal markers set for yourself. Catching my first 40-pound striped bass was a thrill, but when I first started chasing them, all I wanted was my first 20-pounder. I eventually got it, and though the fish dropped no jaws, I'll remember it always. A milestone fish could simply be your first bluegill on a fly or first pike through the ice, regardless of size.

So which "milestone" fish memories do you cherish the most?