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Thirteen-Year-Old Angler’s Massive Striped Bass Is A New ‘Junior World Record’

Laci Short didn't know her giant striper was a world-record contender until months after she'd landed it—Here's her story

Striper guide Kenny Short and his daughter Laci were on a quest to catch her first 60-pound striped bass when the 13-year-old reeled in a big one while trolling the Chesapeake Bay last December. The fish just missed the 60-pound mark, but it did win a nice consolation prize, officially announced last month: A new International Game and Fish Association (IGFA) female junior all-tackle world record for striped bass. 

As proprietor of Kenny’s Striper Guide Service on Virginia’s Smith Mountain Lake, Short puts anglers on trophy landlocked striped bass year-round. But in the winter, when big migratory saltwater stripers pour into Chesapeake Bay, he focuses on “daddy-daughter time” with Laci. “Whatever we catch, I let her reel in,” Short tells Field & Stream. “When she’s with me, I never reel in a fish. She gets them all.”

Kenny caught his first striped bass at 13 and has been obsessed with the hard-fighting sportfish ever since. He competed four years on the National Striped Bass Association’s Gold Cup tournament trail with Team Polar, which placed in the top three each year and won Team of the Year in 2006. He passed along his passion to Laci, who caught her first striper at 3, and the pair have competed together in striped bass tournaments.

“She was wanting to catch a 60, and I told her, ‘Laci, 60s are few and far between.’ I’ve only caught two bigger than 60 myself,” says Short, whose personal best is a 64-pounder from Chesapeake Bay. “But that was our goal, to try and catch her a 60.”

On Dec. 18, they were pulling live eels on Trophy Stalker Planer Boards, which Short designs and builds himself. He trolls with the current, running just a little faster than water speed to keep the eels swimming in a more natural presentation.

“We were on a bunch of good fish that morning,” Short recalls. “She’d already caught six or seven, one a 55-pounder. Then this big one took off, and I mean that drag was screaming as she was getting the rod out of the holder. The fish just kept going and going. Finally it stopped, and she said, ‘Daddy, this one’s bigger.’”

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