Despite the popularity of bass fishing, world record catches are surprisingly infrequent. You'd think with all the professional tournament anglers and weekend warriors pounding the water, a new record-breaking bass would turn up every few years or so. But that's not the case. In fact, the official IGFA all-tackle record for biggest largemouth bass ever caught has been held for over 80 years. Only in the last decade has the record been challenged. As with most fish tales, the story behind the world record bass isn't so straightforward. To start unwinding this yarn, allow us to introduce you to a Great Depression-era farmer named George Perry...
OFFICIAL LARGEMOUTH WORLD RECORD: GEORGE PERRY'S UNDEFEATED BASSOn June 2nd, 1932, George Perry caught the current world record bass out of Lake Montgomery, an oxbow lake off the Ocmulgee River in southern Georgia. The fish (the whopper) weighed 22 pounds, 4 ounces. At that time, world records for fish didn't exist. Mr. Perry certainly wasn't a sport angler by today's definition, and pursuing a record was nowhere on his radar. He and a buddy simply went down to the lake to put some meat on the table. After catching and landing the beast with a creek chub fintail shiner lure, they drove home, stopping to weigh the fish at the local post office. The fish fed Mr. Perry's family of six for two consecutive dinners.
Since the IGFA had yet to be formed and no other agencies were keeping official world records for fish at the time, Mr. Perry's catch almost slipped through the cracks. Luckily, Mr. Perry was told about a big fish contest that Field & Stream magazine was running. He entered the fish, and although he had no photograph to accompany the submission, the measurements and weight of his remarkable fish were enough to win the contest. His prize was an assortment of clothing and a shotgun with some shells. But most importantly, the fish was documented in print—claiming its rightful place in history as the biggest largemouth bass ever caught.
Two years later, Field & Stream began officially certifying world records. When it came time to fill the largemouth bass record, they entered Mr. Perry's contest-winning fish. It was the biggest bass they've ever heard of by a long shot. Coincidentally, Mr. Perry won the same big fish contest again that year with a 13 pound 14-ounce bass. Some people are just born fishy...
Technically, Mr. Perry's bass is still the world record holder. In 2009, however, a Japanese angler stamped his name in the books alongside Perry's with a mega-bass of his own.
TIED WORLD RECORD LARGEMOUTH BASS: MANABU KURITA 22.5 LBAlthough some of the best bass fishing tackle hails from Japan—Shimano, Gamakatsu, and Daiwa to name a few—the country isn't usually thought of as a monster bass hotspot. Since largemouth bass are non-native, the Japanese government considers them a nuisance, actively carrying out plans to exterminate the species. Still, there are enough bass to sustain a niche group of hardcore bass fanatics, including Manabu Kurita, the only man to have ever tied Mr. Perry's undefeated world record largemouth bass.
Kurita caught his record bass in Lake Biwa, and the catch was confirmed as legitimate through a polygraph test. Weighing 22 pounds, 5 ounces, the bass actually surpasses Mr. Perry's 1932 record bass, but IGFA regulations require that the new record outweighs the current record by more than two ounces. So for official record purposes, the catch is considered a tie.
Now the question is, who will step up and establish the new world record largemouth?
TIPS FOR CATCHING YOUR OWN RECORD SETTING BASS
It's unknown whether or not a largemouth bass can naturally grow beyond the 22-pound mark. But that doesn't mean you should stop trying to hook into a record breaker. If you want to move beyond frying pan-sized bass, here are a few tips to help:
CHANGE YOUR MINDSET TO TARGET TROPHIES
Catching trophy-class bass is an entirely different game than catching schoolies. The truth is, if you want to catch bass in the 10-pound-plus range, you have to come to terms with the fact that you aren't going to catch very many, if any fish on a regular basis. You must be patient. Fish slowly and methodically. Don't get phased if you come back to shore without any action. Your persistence and discipline will pay off.
UP-SIZE YOUR LURES
The adage "bigger baits catch bigger fish" holds true when chasing the biggest largemouth. These old fish don't feed all day long like smaller bass do. Instead, they wait for a nice big meal to swim along. They're looking for the biggest payoff for the least amount of energy exerted. Don't be afraid to go big.
SEEK OUT AREAS WITH LOW FISHING PRESSURE
The biggest bass are survivors. That’s how they’ve grown so large. They've successfully eluded the pressures of larger predators in their early days and have outwitted anglers as they've grown. Your odds of catching a potential record setter will skyrocket if you can find locations with the least amount of angling pressure possible. Often times, the best spots will be where other anglers can't or won't make the effort to reach. Find the thickest, nastiest side-channels or bays, suck it up, and get in there.
GEAR UP FOR THE RECORD-BREAKING FIGHT
One of the keys to success when pursuing record-size bass is being able to stay on the water all day long. You need the right gear to stay comfortable no matter what the weather's doing. Springtime is typically best for catching big bass since the spawning ritual makes the fish vulnerable to mistakes. But fishing in spring also means you'll be subjecting yourself to long days under the sun—not to mention rising humidity levels.
The Huk Icon Longsleeve Shirt is the easiest way to stay protected from the sun and as dry as possible when chasing that world record bass. It's made of durable poly knit fabric that wicks moisture and features a lower back mesh vent for extra cooling.
To give you an extra advantage, the Icon is available in Kryptek camouflage which will help break up your outline above water to minimize the risk of being spotted by the fish. After all, if you want a shot at the world record, or even a state record, you need all the help you can get.