This model of what George Perry’s world record bass would have looked like is on display at Bass Pro Shop in Macon. (Photo/Terry Johnson)

This model of what George Perry’s world record bass would have looked like is on display at Bass Pro Shop in Macon. (Photo/Terry Johnson)

For more than 80 years, Georgia has boasted of being the home of the world record largemouth bass. However, a little more than a decade ago a Japanese angler is purported to have landed a larger largemouth bass that outweighed the current world record. This story reverberated throughout the bass fishing world. Millions of anglers were left wondering whether or not such a fish had been caught and, if it had, did it topple the Georgia record?

Generations of fisherman have vainly tried to break the world record largemouth bass record. This fish was landed in Montgomery Lake (an oxbow lake off the Ocmulgee River) roughly five miles south of the sleepy town of Jacksonville in Telfair County.

On June 2, 1932, a local farmer named George Perry caught a largemouth bass that tipped the scales at 22 pounds, 4 ounces. The behemoth was caught on a lure called a creek chub fintail shiner. 

After Perry boated the fish, as luck would have it, on the way home, he stopped at the local post office, and had the fish weighed on a certified scale.

As remarkable as it may seem nowadays, Perry did not mount or even photograph his catch.  Instead, the remarkable fish was eaten by the Perry family. 

Fortunately, somebody told George Perry that, if he entered his catch in the Field and Stream Fishing Contest, he might win some prizes. The fish did indeed win and was immediately recognized as the world record largemouth based solely on the fish’s weight and measurements.

Since that fateful June day in 1932, in spite of dramatic advancement in fishing tackle technology, and countless anglers trying to best George Perry’s record, George Perry’s bass remained atop the list of the largest largemouth bass ever caught. In fact, many came to believe that the record could not be topped.

However, that all changed on July 2, 2009 when Manabu Kurita reeled in a largemouth bass that weighed 22 pounds, 4.97 ounces. This fish was hooked while the angler was fishing at Japan’s Lake Biwa. Kurita’s trophy was less than an ounce heavier than that of current record holder.

Whereas Perry’s monster bass was enticed to strike an artificial lure, such was not the case with Kurita’s monster bass. This bass was landed near a bridge piling using a live bluegill for bait.

Almost as soon as news of what was purported to be a new world record largemouth bass reached the angling community around the world, questions were raised as to whether or not the catch would withstand the scrutiny of the International Game Fish Association (IGFA). 

Many anglers quickly began to question the validity of this remarkable catch. One thing questioned was the weight of the fish. This concern fell by the wayside when it was determined that the fish was weighed on a certified scale.

Next Kurita had to pass a polygraph test to ensure that he was honest and forthcoming regarding the details of his catch. He passed this hurdle without any problem.

Finally, rumors surfaced that alleged Kurita hooked the fish in a area where fishing was not allowed, and they had to be investigated. IGFA officials established that, although the fish was caught very close to a no-fishing zone, it was clearly landed in waters where fishing was allowed. 

In case you might be wondering why the IGFA spent so much time and efforts to ascertain the validity of the catch, Jason Schratwiser, IGFA’s conservation director, explained it this way, “A great many anglers are interested in this record. It’s the Holy Grail of freshwater fishing.”

After all of the questions swirling around the catch were answered to the satisfaction of the Japanese Game Fish Association, Kurita’s application for Kurita’s fish to be recognized as the new world record largemouth bass was submitted to the IGFA.

Six months later IGFA certified Manabu Kurita’s application. However, the IGFA has a rule that stipulates that, in order to break the world record for a fish weighing under 25 pounds,  a fish’s weight must surpass the weight of the current record holder by two or more ounces. In other words, in the eyes of the IGFA,  George Perry and Manubu Kurita currently share the world record largemouth bass record.  However, Kurita’s fish did actually weigh a smidgeon more.

It appears the only way this controversy will truly be resolved is for somebody to land a largemouth bass that weighs at least two ounces more that of current record holders. Who knows? Perhaps a world record largemouth bass is swimming in the waters of the Ocmulgee that meander through Monroe County. 

 If a Monroe Countian does land such a fish in Monroe County waters, he or she will have the satisfaction of knowing they were responsible for having Georgia regain its title as being the home of the undisputed world record largemouth bass.

 

Terry Johnson is retired Program Manager of the Georgia Nongame-Endangered Wildlife Program. He has written the informative column ‘Monroe Outdoors’ for the Reporter for many years. His book, “A Journey to Discovery,” is available at The Reporter. Email him at tjwoodduck@bellsouth.net.