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October 11, 2016 • Headline News
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He’s hoping to reel in $50,000 at fishing contest

Mary Mattingly

This is no fish story: Chris Scarber of Osgood caught a bass big enough to qualify for a $50,000 contest. The 41-year-old’s catch of a 25-inch large mouth bass in the area was the biggest on record in Indiana. It earned him a spot in the largest amateur fishing contest in the nation, Bassin Magazine Big Bass World Championship on Oct. 29.

Chris Scarber with his bass

Chris Scarber with the bass that qualified him for the national contest.

Another 49 fisherman from the U.S., along with last year’s winner, will be competing at Ft. Gibson Lake near Tulsa, Oklahoma for the top prize. “It’s a winner takes all, and includes a fishing boat, motor and trailer, so it’s upwards of $100,000,” the local fisherman said. Contestants had to submit a photo of the fish they caught anytime between January and Aug. 15, 2016.

Scarber fished all summer, and did particularly well in July but held off entering the contest until August. It paid off. He caught a large mouth bass that weighed 8.72 pounds with a girth of 16.75 inches. Scarber knew the day he reeled in the bass it was a big one. A catch and release fisherman, he had caught some 15 that day. He’ll gladly tell you his bait was a rubberized minnow with paddle tail and that he used a quantum reel, but he won’t reveal where he caught his prized bass. No decent fisherman, amateur or pro, likes to let others in on really good fishing holes. (Suffice it to say, the big bass catch was a local lake in the area.

“No one believes this but Versailles State Park,” he said is good for fishing crappie and bass. Osgood’s rock quarries also used to be good fishing, but he said the stock has declined in recent years.

Scarber entered the national bass contest in 2000 and by random pairing actually partnered with the man who won. And, he’s won some local tournaments coming home with $150 or $100. “I was real excited about it,” he said of his winnings. So he can’t imagine how’d he feel at winning $50K! The way he looks at it he’s getting paid to do something he loves.

When asked how long he’s been fishing, the ’94 Milan graduate replied, “I’m 41 years old; so, 40 years!” He’s been obsessed about fishing since he was 10, and probably casts a line 150 days out of the year, and would more if there wasn’t this thing called work. A father of a 21-year-old and 16-year-old, he works at Nikkeo factory in Columbus, Indiana. He loves the outdoors, and says southeast Indiana is great for fishing and many types of hunting, which he also likes to do. Scarber finds casting a line and waiting for a tug from a fish relaxing and enjoyable. “What is more fun than that,” he says. “It’s a 100 percent stress reliever.” “Finding the fish is one thing, making them bite is you,” the son of Chris and Susie Scarber of Rising Sun said.

More importantly, he believes is a successful fisherman will research the lake and understand the biology and environment surrounding it. “Skills are second to research. Know the ph habits, the water temperature, what the fish are eating at that time of year,” he advised. Last year’s national Bassin winner from Maryland caught a bass that topped six pounds. Scarber hopes he has luck with him on Oct. 29, but he plans to research prior about Ft. Gibson Lake before hitting the water. Once he finds out who his partner is they’ll strategize about the best place and time for fishing in the 40,000 acre lake. A marshall will accompany each competitor to keep things kosher. “I’m hoping for a nice and chilly day with a touch of wind and overcast. If the lake is choppy the fish bite better and they can’t see as well,” he said. Scarber is looking forward to the trip and hopes to come back with more than a big fish story! “It will be nice to win but it’s an honor to go,” he said.

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