Using skipjack as cut bait, Oneonta’s Johnny Owen (right) landed himself another world record on March 22 by reeling in a 28-pound, 3-ounce striped bass at Inland Lake. The certified catch set the record in the Division One rod/ reel 14-pound line-class in the Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame.
Owen said on that particular day, which also happens to be his daughter’s birthday, he and his buddies had been bank fishing for three or four hours when his reel began to spool. He quickly grabbed his fishing rod to begin bringing in the fish. The fish was putting up a fight, and at one point, all of Owen’s 14-pound test line was in the water. Owen knew that landing this fish was going to be a battle.
As luck would have it, a man, who Owen did not know, was launching his boat near where he and his buddies were fishing. The man saw the dilemma and told Owen to “get in.” After chasing the fish one-quarter of a mile, Owen was finally able to get the fish into the boat. It was an exciting time for everyone due to the size of the fish.
This, however, was not the first record Owen had set. On a cold and rainy day in March 2018, he caught an 80-pound blue catfish while bank fishing for 10 hours at Inland Lake. Using chicken livers as bait, it took him more than 40 minutes to bring the fish to shore. The National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame certified the catfish as a line-class world record.
Owen is a third generation fisherman and Inland Lake is a special place to him. Both of his grandfathers fished Inland and caught many fish there. In fact, people in the area would say of his grandfathers, “If they didn’t catch any fish, they weren’t biting.”
Growing up, Owen has many memories of fishing with his grandfathers at the lake, and he considers it his “home away from home.” The history runs deep in that area, as both of his grandfathers farmed at what is now known as Inland Lake. One of his grandfathers accidently shot his great uncle in the leg there and his uncle had to be brought out by horse and buggy for medical attention. Even his first date with his wife, Vicki, was a fishing excursion to Inland Lake.
Owen loves to teach others, especially children, how to fish. He believes it is very important for them to get outdoors and do something besides playing video games or staring at their phone all day.
With Owen no longer able to work due to health issues, it gives him more time to fish when he is physically able to do so. He has dreams of fishing professionally in the Bassmaster Classic, but not sure that will ever become a reality. He also hopes to fish in the Cabela’s Big Cat Tournament. He encourages others to pursue their goals in life by saying, “Don’t give up on your dream. You have to keep moving on.”