Bill had fished about two weeks prior with guiding legend Captain Steve Huff. With Steve, Bill caught and weighed in a 41 lb Permit; quite an incredible catch on 4 LB test AND the new world record for Permit in that line class.
Ironically, Bill and Captain Huff's 41 pounder beat the existing record of 29 pounds that was set 2 months prior by Bill Boone using me (Jose) as the Captain. The funny thing is that Bill Reisendfeld was predominantly my client and rarely fished with Steve Huff. Bill Boone was predominantly Steve's client and rarely fished with me. The one day each of the anglers fished with some one other that their regular guide, they each caught a world record... funny how that works.
Right about the same time that Bill had captured that 41 pounder with Steve, I was fishing some other clients in Key West on a spot where I usually find big fish. I looked over and saw this huge permit rooting in the mud for a crab. His head was buried in the bottom and he making such a mess that all I could see was his tail on the surface. When he finally swam past the mud, I could see how truly big he was.
The folks I was fishing with at the time were casting for barracudas with these huge lures that would have scared that big permit to death. Luckily, they had not seen the fish and because I knew that Bill Reisendfeld was coming soon to fish with me, I pointed the bow away from the permit and quietly poled off the flat muttering something like "tides not right here" for the benefit of my “cuda lure hucking” clients.
Two weeks later with Bill in the boat with me, we were rigged and ready for battle. I went to the exact same flat at the exact same tide and that monster permit was tailing within 50' of the exact same spot. The rest is history, Bill made the cast, the fish ripped off the flat and into channel bordering it and that's where the fight went on for 2.5 hours. I was not convinced that the fish Bill had on now with me was bigger that the existing record, the 41 pounder he had caught the two weeks before with Steve Huff. So we made a decision not to gaff or net it. When the leader finally came within reach after 2.5 hours we very gingerly pulled on it till the fish came to the boat. Even that close, the fish did not look that big. So I just grabbed it by the tail and pulled him in the boat.
I think it was then that we both got a look at the length and girth of the fish and said "HOLY SHIT!!!!!” We got some pictures and ran to the dock and it became official: Bill Riesendfeld had the new world record for 4 pound line, a 44lb 12oz fish!! Bill outdid himself by catching a world record 41 lbs permit on one day, an incredible catch in it's own......... then went out and beat his own record two weeks later with a 44lbs. 12oz. fish on 4!
Bill Riesendfeld was a pain in the ass sometimes to fish with, but we had fun together in the boat, he became a good friend of mine and I liked and respected him. He was a kind and generous man. He passed away last year and I hope he feels us thinking of him..... See ya willie..... Jose