With about 40 million sport anglers in the United States, fishing is the nation’s fourth most popular sport. Approximately one-third of all sport fishermen target largemouth bass, making it the most popular American game fish.
Ever wondered what the world record largemouth bass is? The story might be more interesting than you think.
All-Time World Record Largemouth Bass
George W. Perry, credited with the world record for eight decades, made his famous catch on June 2nd of 1932, on Lake Montgomery in Georgia.
The International Game Fish Association would not be formed for another seven years, and it didn’t release its first World Record Marine Fishes edition until 1971. This left Perry without any official recognition for his feat for several years.
The world record largemouth bass length was reported to be 32.5 inches long and 28.5 inches around. It weighed 22 pounds 4 ounces, according to a local postal scale.
Field & Stream magazine was the best-known keeper of records back then, but it didn’t start tracking world records until two years later. Fortunately for Perry, he had entered and won a Field & Stream contest that eventually led to his catch being declared the magazine’s world record for largemouth bass. However many questions remain surrounding the circumstances, evidence, and testimony that lead to Perry’s world record fish.
The IGFA currently lists the all-tackle world record for largemouth bass as a tie between Perry and Japanese angler Manabu Kurita.
Kurita caught his record-tying fish on Lake Biwa, near Kyoto, Japan. At 22 pounds 4.97 ounces, Kurita’s fish was almost an ounce heavier than Perry’s; however, the IFGA requires fish that weigh 25 pounds or less to be at least two ounces heavier to break a standing world record. Thus, the two fish are considered tied.
Unofficial World Record Largemouth Bass
If you think the stories behind the official world record largemouth bass are strange, wait until you hear about Dottie!
This fish tale begins with three men, Jed Dickerson, Mac Weakley, and Mike Winn, who were on an early 2000’s mission to catch the world’s largest largemouth bass. On March 19, 2006, the three friends spotted a 25 lb female largemouth bass, known as Dottie, in Dixon Lake in California.
The lake was about to close, so the trio rented a campsite to pursue Dottie first thing in the morning. The three men were able to locate the giant fish the next morning and took turns casting for her.
Weakley landed the lunker, but much to his dismay, she was foul-hooked. Because he set the hook on the outside of Dottie’s mouth, the catch was not eligible for the official world record.
The friends put Dottie on the scale before returning her to the water. She weighed in at 25.1 pounds, which would have shattered the official world record largemouth bass of 22 pounds 4 ounces, currently held jointly by George Perry and Manabu Kurita.
Even still, Dottie became a legend, and in the years that followed, anglers came from all over the world to try and hook her right. Dixon Lake officials reported the death of the unofficial world’s largest largemouth bass in 2008.
State Record Largemouth Bass
Those world records are pretty impressive, but perhaps you’re interested in knowing about the largest fish caught in your favorite fishing state. These are a few of the current state records.
Florida is one of the most popular states for bass fishing. In August 1986, Billy O’Berry landed the current state record-holder in a Polk County lake that has since dried up. The fish weighed 17.27 pounds.
Florida also has a pair of unofficial record holders. W.A. Witt pulled a 19-pound bass out of Lake Tarpon in Pinellas County in the 1940s. There is also photographic evidence of a legendary 20.13-pound fish caught by Frederick Friebel in 1923. Both of these fish were caught before the Florida Fish, and Wildlife Conservation Commission started keeping records, though Friebel’s catch is listed in the record books with an asterisk.
California is another popular destination for bass fishing. We already talked about the unofficial record set by Mac Weakley at over 25 pounds. The official state record belongs to Michael Arujo of Santa Monica. He caught a 21 pound 12-ounce bass on Castaic Lake at the main boat ramp in Los Angeles County on March 5, 1991.
He landed the big fish on a six-inch Renosky Super Shad lure and a 15-pound test line. The bass measured 28.5 inches in length and had a 26.5-inch girth. His catch eclipsed the former record of 21 pounds 3 ounces held by Raymond Easley.
They say everything is bigger in Texas, so you’d expect the state record fish to be among the top catches in the world. At 18 pounds 2.8 ounces, the state record fish caught by Barry St. Clair lacks a few pounds on the nation’s top catches but is still pretty impressive.
The bass caught on January 2nd, 1992, measured 25.5 inches. St. Clair hauled in the fish on Lake Fork, which boasts 36 of the top 50 bass in the state. St. Clair hooked the lunker using a live minnow at a depth of about 42 feet. He used a Berkley lightning rod and a Shimano bait reel with a 14-pound test line.
How World Records are Decided
The IGFA is currently considered the authority on fishing world records. To qualify for the world record largemouth bass, fish must be caught according to the IGFA International Angling Rules.
Average Size of a Largemouth Bass
An average largemouth bass is about 13 inches long. Weight varies considerably, with fish in the southern latitudes being larger than fish caught further north.
In most of the United States, a 2-3 pound bass would be considered a good catch, and anything over five pounds would be a potential tournament winner. Most anglers consider trophy fish to be anything 10 pounds and above, though this varies by state, with the largest fish usually being caught in the Southern United States.
If you decide to search for your own world record largemouth bass, follow good etiquette. Because most of the largest bass are females, catch-and-release is highly encouraged to protect the future of this popular sport fish.