Record Wyoming 11.51-lb largemouth bass Caleb Salzman was just as open-mouthed and shocked as the Wyoming record largemouth bass he hooked.

“It was crazy,” Salzman said.

In a desperate dash to save itself and spit the hook lodged firmly in its mouth, the huge bass sliced through the water of Kleenburn Ponds toward Salzman.

After the first few tugs on the line Salzman knew the fish on was bigger than all its friends he had previously met at the pond outside Sheridan over the previous hour-and-a-half on the May evening. But he had no idea how big.

“It was a pretty big fight and then it came at me,” he said.

Salzman, 18, of Meeteetse, who just completed his freshman year at Sheridan College, kept the pressure on, reeling steadily. His eyes bulged when the bass broke the surface.

“Oh yeah, this is a big fish,” he realized.

Largemouth bass’ mouths seem perpetually frozen wide. For a moment, Salzman was likely a mirror image.

This was just the beginning of a head-spinning adventure that was wilder than the actual catch. The fish, whose life had been consigned to this one pond, took a little bit of a farewell tour.

Salzman’s first-glance assessment of size was accurate, but the true immensity of the largemouth shocked Salzman, Wyoming Game and Fish officials and the fishing world once the measuring tools came out.

Weighing in at 11.51 pounds, measuring 24.5 inches long and with a girth of 20.75 inches, Salzman established a new Wyoming largemouth bass record.

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