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Before I get into this awesome story allow me to introduce myself. My name is Joe Beasom and I got
into kayak fishing in late March early April of this year. During that time I turned a Perception Swifty 9.5
into a fishing machine and soon after upgraded to an amazing Jackson Kilroy. Most of my fishing is done
on the Susquehanna River as well as an old haunt on the Juniata River in Perry County.

It was Labor Day weekend 2014 when Kayak Anglers of Western Pa hosted a weekend long online event
sponsored by Manley Custom Rods. I participated in this event knowing that I would only be able to fish
two out of the three days. The first day of the event I fished in the morning boating a four fish limit
totaling 57 inches. Sunday, while at work, I watched the online leaderboard from the sidelines all the
while watching my limit slip further and further down the standings. By Monday I was in sixth place
while most of the top participants were well over 100 inches total. This was not going to stop me from
having an awesome Labor Day float/ fishing trip on the Juniata River. My wife, cousin, youngest son and
I chose a stretch of river that I often fished growing up. The weather was perfect and the water was
clear that morning so I was sure it was going to be a great time. We set out on the river around 8:00 that
morning and by ten fish were being caught pretty consistently. Although we were catching fish, most
were ranging in size from 12 to 15 inches.

I was submitting everything I could and before long I had mynine fish limit and was in third place. By lunch time we were halfway through our trip and stopped off on
a quiet little island to have a bite to eat and reflect on how our luck was going. I knew I needed a few
good fish to at least keep me somewhere near the top. Not long after we set back out I was going
through a section of faster water. At the tail end of that section I made a cast and had a bite that felt like
a hammer smashing the bait on the end of my line. I set the hook and the fight was on. After ten
minutes I landed a beautiful 19 inch smallie. I quickly submitted a pic to the leaderboard and took a
selfie since up to this point this was a personal best smallmouth. The fish was released and I was back at
it working my way down the river. I checked the leaderboard and was in second place but there was still
a few hours left for the event. Fish were still biting pretty well but all were averaging 14 inches. These
fish weren’t helping me very much because since my limit was met they would cancel out smaller
submissions so I would gain maybe an inch or two per fish if anything. As our trip was coming to the last
few miles and time was getting close I was bumped to third by another angler. Meanwhile a fellow club
member and I exchanged a few text messages telling tales of our catches of the day and how the event
was finishing up. Our conversation ended with a half hour left to fish and me hoping for a last minute
pig. With 15 minutes left I landed a nice 16.5 smallie which was a little help but not enough to put me in
second. I went through the online submission routine, looked at the time and realized I had roughly 8
minutes left in the tournament. Just enough time for one last cast! I picked a nice looking bit of
slackwater in an eddy below a ledge, casted my line perfectly into it and what happened next was
absolutely awesome. WHAM a ton of weight slammed my line and it was on. I sunk the hook and felt
what seemed to be a monster on the end of my line. This thing is huge. “Oh crap, I need to get this thing
to my boat” raced through my mind as well as “please don’t spit the hook, please don’t spit the hook.”
Then it broke the water and I was able to see this fish I was fighting. It was huge. Knowing I was quickly
running out of time I fought that fish and forced it to my boat in less than five minutes. I readied my net
as I got it closer to my boat and as it made a running pass I swooped at it with my net. As I tried to
scoop, it didn’t quite make it into the net, instead it laid across the rim of it. It then tried to flop off but
my hook actually snagged up on the net holding it in place. I quickly flopped it onto the floor of my
Kilroy, unhooked it, and put it on the hawg trough for measurement. My hands were shaking so bad I
wasn’t even sure I was going to be able to snap a pic that would be clear enough to make out how big
this thing was.

With merely 3 or 4 minutes left in the online event, I submitted a fat 19.5 hawg cementing a solid second place finish. After I gave thanks and released the fish I was spent. With adrenaline pumping, I let out a few “whoos,” sighed a breath or two of relief and sat back and tried to calm myself down a little.

How many times does a person break their personal best record twice in the same day? Truly magical is the only way I can describe it. I am still out there trying to chase bigger fish but this day will remain in my memory for a lifetime.