From Florida Today..by Bill Sargent
Zella Helton of Mims had a banner day of fly fishing outside Port Canaveral when she landed back-to-back potential tippet class world record black drum.
The first drum weighed 42 pounds, 5 ounces and two hours later Helton boated the second fish weighing 51 pounds, 8 ounces. Both catches are pending records with the International Game Fish Association (IGFA).
Helton and her boyfriend Troy Perez, also of Mims, found a large school of black drum concentrated close to the beach in only 10 feet of water. Perez, noted as one of Florida’s top inshore fishing guides, knew immediately any number of the fish was potential records on fly tackle.
Using a 12-weight flyrod with a 20-pound tippet and a Dan Johnson shrimp pattern, Helton hooked the 42-pounder and fought it for 45 minutes before getting it to the boat.
The tippet in a monofilament fly line leader is a tied section with the weakest point. IGFA, the international records keeper at Dania Beach, offers records in seven tippet line strengths in men and women divisions.
Under IGFA rules, a record catch must be weighed on shore, so Perez placed the drum in a large onboard aerated live well and headed back to Port Canaveral where the fish was weighed on certified scales, witnessed and released at the docks.
Florida regulations allow the possession of only one black drum over 24 inches in length so after releasing the first catch Perez called the IGFA to get permission to catch another potential record.
“We headed back to the same spot along the beach and the school was still there,” Helton said. “This time I hooked an even bigger one.”
She used the same fly rod and shrimp pattern but the second drum gave Helton a much tougher fight.
“It was like fighting an anchor. It kept going to the bottom,” said Helton, who received the Women’s Division Championship for 2016 in the Florida Sport Fishing Association at the Cape Canaveral fishing club’s awards dinner in January. “She wanted to stay with the school.”
Again Helton subdued the fish and it was placed in the live well for the ride back to the Canaveral docks where it weighed in at 51 pounds, 8 ounces. It too was released in good condition.
With both catches submitted as records, Helton stands to set one IGFA record with her first catch before it is “retired” and replaced with the 51-pound 8-ounce fish. She also owns the IGFA 16-pound tippet record with a 47-pound, 8-ounce black drum she took on fly gear outside Canaveral in March 2016.
The current women’s 20-pound tippet record of 37 pounds, 8 ounces was set in Louisiana in February, 2014.