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James Bramblett with his record-breaking catch.  Photo courtesy of Joe Songer,

Totty's long-standing record broken

By Michael Butler

Charles K. Totty was 30-years-old. He had just completed Korean War duty with the Army.

Totty had his Pflueger Supreme reel that he had purchased in Newfoundland and found a fishing spot at the falls below Thurlow Dam on the Tallapoosa River.

A 22-pound stripe had already been bagged when Totty tossed his double bucktail jig into the rapids. The lure was a homemade jig on the back of jig that was about four to five inches in length. He had tied two 50-yard strands of line together. These were the days before monofilament fishing line.

"I threw it where the water was falling over. I went over to the island," Totty recalled. "This big one hit it. I said to myself, 'Oh buddy, if you break this line - you're gonna have to do it before it hits that knot.'"

Totty said he put his finger down on the spool. "It blistered like it had been on a stove. I couldn't fish for weeks after that." 

What Totty had on the line would become a state record for a striped bass. The battle between the fish and the man ensued for about 20 minutes.

"I walked down the bank and pulled him out. He'd done give out and I'd done give out," Totty said. "I didn't even think about it being a record."


That was 54 years ago. The 55-pound catch is no longer the state's largest recorded catch, as of February 28.

James R. Bramlett of Dora caught a 70-pound striped bass in the Black Warrior River near the Gorgas Steam Plant.

"I congratulate him," Totty stated. "That's a pretty big fish. It put my record to shambles."

Totty, who lives in Friendship, no longer fishes but still has his fisherman's story of the big one on the Tallapoosa.

"I sold him for $3 to Fletcher Henderson. I think he sold him to a photographer who mounted it. I didn't have the money to mount it. My wife said she didn't want that big thing hanging on the wall. I'd sell them for cheap. I'd just liked to catch them."

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