The world record largemouth bass has held its own for 77 years now. There have been contenders (unofficial) every since then. There may finally be a new record that has been certified.
July 2009 on Lake Biwa in the Shiga prefecture of Japan, a fisherman has caught the next contender. This bruiser weighed in at 22 pounds and 5 ounces on certified scales and the bass fishing world awaits the IGFA (International Game Fish Association) decision.
The world record largemouth bass would have quite a legend to live up to. That would be Lake Biwa itself. It is the largest freshwater lake in Japan and is the source of water for Kyoto and Otsu. It is also one of the oldest lakes in the world at an estimated 4 million years! The Japanese consider it sacred and there is even a shrine right in the water. It is home to thousands of creatures and thousands more in visiting birds. Overall it's one heck of a nice home for a world record largemouth bass!
The happy angler's name is Manabu Kurita who is sponsored by Deps fishing lures out of Japan. The only thing is, he reportedly caught it on live bait! Boy the Japanese have something to learn about corporate sponsorship! I bet Deps wants to know why he wasn't using their gear!
Largemouth bass in Japan you say? Yep. They have been stocking ponds, lakes and streams for some time know trying to grow their own bass fishing industry. A lot of people are none too happy about it either. You see the largemouth is an invasive species to the islands of Japan. They have no problem eating all those tasty little trout and other critters that have never seen this eating machine.
As a matter of fact the Shiga prefecture, where this fish was caught, has a local law that prohibits the release of bass after they are caught. You must eat it or just kill it. They have even paid fishermen over 4 dollars a pound for a bounty on them. This is not unlike bounties paid for marsh rabbits in Louisiana or contests to get rid of Asian carp from rivers in the US.
The deep clear Lake Biwa is a great place for a world record bass when you think about it. All kinds of forage with the trout, depths to escape to escape to and no real predator to worry about. After the bass make it past the fry stage, they've got it made! There could even be larger bass than that.
So is this the new world record largemouth bass? Probably not. The reason is the IGFA has a rule that fish under 25 pounds MUST be 2 ounces greater than the record. This bucketmouth tip the scales at only one ounce greater. Come on!! Well a couple of well placed rocks ought to do the trick! That's what they accused D.L. Hayes of doing when he brought in the world record smallmouth bass back in 1955. To this day that record stands. So this bass will only be a tie.
Everybody still has the chance to catch the biggest largemouth bass. One thing is for sure, it will be done using knowledge of bass habitat and behavior. Your probably aren't going to catch a bass like that by accident. So start learning and reading everything you can and go get the next world record bass!
January 8, 2010- IT'S A TIE! Kurita shares the the world record with Perry.
Almost exactly six months after he caught what looked like a new world record largemouth bass, Manabu Kurita will go down in history a the first to tie George Perry's bass.
The world of angling got a lesson in IGFA rules as they apply to the popular largemouth. The rules state that a record that applies to a fish under 25 pounds must be broken by 2 ounces. That seems to be a picky technicality but it has been the way it is for some time. You don't get to change standing rules to suit yourself. So, until someone catches a largemouth bass that weighs more than 22lbs and 6oz the record will stand in a 2 way tie.
Many people, including Kurita who claims to have seen a largemouth bigger than his catch, think the new record is in Lake Biwa. Others say Cuba or California. It seems very likely now the the record will be broken some day.
With people tampering with the environment, like stocking ponds and conditioning bass to eat at a certain place and time, bass are getting bigger every day. The difference today is people are actively searching for the status of a world record. George Perry was looking for food and has held the record for 77 years!
People have stocked bass in foreign countries with the best chance to grow them. This is nothing more than a world record farm, but the rules don't prevent it.
Either way the record comes, naturally or with help from record seekers, it could happen this year or next. It might take several years. But that's why they call our sport BASS FISHING, and not BASS CATCHING!