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Catching the World Record Largemouth Bass
When it comes to freshwater fishing, no species draws more attention than the largemouth bass. A beautiful species that is fairly easy to catch, largemouth can be found in most regions of the United States (and in various spots around the world).
With distinctive features, big bucket mouths, and bulging eyes (if they weigh enough), largemouth are the most popular sport fish in the country. Each year, thousands of anglers fish local, regional, and national tournaments to land a trophy-sized bass.
Many are able to land 8, 9, and even 10 pound lunkers each year. If you follow enough social media channels, you’ll even see some largemouth that approach the fifteen pound mark each year.
That said, a very select few anglers have managed to catch fish that rank among the biggest largemouth bass ever caught.
Two anglers in particular have managed to lay their claim to the world record largemouth bass, arguably the most sought-after prize in sport fishing.
Three others, while not officially recognized, however, may have actually caught an even bigger bass!
The World Record Largemouth Bass: A Tale of Two Whoppers
The First World Record Largemouth Bass: A Georgia Legend Continues to Grow
Despite the fact that millions of anglers fish for bass each year, the official world record has remained in-tact for nearly a century.
When George Perry, a farmer from Georgia, caught his 22 pound, 4 ounce monster on Lake Montgomery back in June 1932, however, the concept of a uniformed world record tracking organization was still a novel concept. He was simply looking for a meal to feed his large family — a reality that probably makes modern tournament anglers and catch-and-release enthusiasts squirm. The meal, which fed the family of six for two nights, however, pales in comparison to the fame his massive bass would generate.
The International Game Fish Association (IGFA), which today is considered the global authority for fishing world records, would not be formed for another seven years. Perry’s catch was only able to earn the designation because Field & Stream magazine began recording world records roughly two years after he hauled in his mammoth fish.
The magazine determined that Perry’s was easily the biggest largemouth bass ever caught — or at least ever recorded — and he was granted the distinction of being the first largemouth bass world record holder.
While others have managed to come close — with a handful even catching some 20+ pound largemouth — one angler, fishing in an unlikely region, actually surpassed George Perry’s monstrous catch (and had all the proper documentation to prove it).
A New Contender for World Record Largemouth Bass Emerges on the Other Side of the Planet
Some eighty years after Perry’s world record largemouth bass was caught in Georgia, a young angler from Japan hauled in a lunker that was actually heavier.
In July 2009 — roughly 28,000 days after George Perry’s record catch — Manabu Kurita caught a 22 pound, 5 ounce largemouth while fishing Lake Biwa near Kyoto, Japan.
While Kurita’s catch was actually bigger than the bass caught by Perry in 1932, the IGFA ruling states that in order to earn a new world record, your catch must be a full two ounces heavier than the current record. Since Kurita only eclipsed Perry by one ounce, the two catches now share the title.
What makes Kurita’s catch interesting, aside from the fact that it was heavier than the existing world record, is the fact that largemouth bass are not native to Japan.
Prior to Kurita’s record-setting catch, the previous Japanese record was held by Kazuya Shimada. His monstrous bass weighed an enormous 19.15 pounds!
Other Contenders for Biggest Bass Ever Caught
While the standards accepted to certify George Perry’s catch nearly a century ago would surely not hold up today, there have been a few bass that may have overtaken his world record had the anglers gone through the proper channels.
Spoiler Alert: a bathroom scale is not one of those channels!
Mac Weakley, 2006
When Carlsbad, California resident Mac Weakley hauled in the famed “Dottie” — a humongous Florida-strain largemouth whose nickname came from a pronounced black dot on the white on her jaw — he had retrieved what would have easily been the new world record bass.
At an astonishing 25 pounds, Dottie would have shattered the California, United States, North American, and world records for largemouth bass. Weighing close to three pounds more than George Perry’s record, however, it wasn’t a lack of proper equipment or certification measures that kept Dottie out of the books.
Weakley ultimately decided not to pursue certification because the fish had been unintentionally foul hooked under the dorsal fin.
While the fish did not become the new world record largemouth bass, it did bring incredible attention to Dixon Lake in southern California. From March 2006 (the time of Weakley’s catch) until the fish’s death around May 2008, anglers from across the country (and even the world — some from Japan) came to legally catch Dottie.
Paul Duclos, 1997
While Mac Weakley and Manabu Kurita made runs for the world record in the 2000s, Paul Duclos gave California another potential candidate while fishing Spring Lake back in 1997.
From the image above, it is clear that Duclos’ largemouth was massive. The question is, was it the biggest bass ever caught?
If you ask the bathroom scale he used to weigh it, then the answer is yes.
Unfortunately, no certifying body in the world will accept a weight — especially one vying for arguably the most coveted record in fishing — recorded on a bathroom scale.
While the legend of Duclos’ potential world record bass has grown over the past two decades, some suggest that he attempted to get a certified scale from a local bait shop. Others, however, have accused Duclos of a variety of tricks and tactics to falsify his claim.
Leaha Trew, 2003
Where Paul Duclos weighed his potential Spring Lake world record largemouth bass on a bathroom scale in 1997, Leaha Trew’s biggest folly in 2003 was simply not taking more photos of her catch from the same lake.
While this seems unimaginable in the era of cell phones and social media, Leaha was fishing with her son and only one photo of here massive catch exists — the one above.
FLW ran a story on Trew’s potential record shortly after the catch, which includes dialogue from Doug Blodgett of the IGFA. While the organization recognized Trew’s catch — which unofficially weighed between 22.5 and 23 pounds — Perry’s 1932 record maintained its status.
Many believe that since Perry’s catch was grandfathered into the record (no photos exist of that fish on a scale or measuring board either), Trew should be the rightful world record holder. Others take the firm stance that “rules are rules.”
Do you think George Perry’s world record largemouth bass will ever be formally replaced? If so, where do you think the fish will be caught? Let us know in the comments below.