Record largemouth bass are an obsession for some, a passion for others, and a joy to behold for the masses. Defining “trophy” is a personal matter, of course, and often varies depending on where you fish. In most northern states, 6 pounds is a beast. But in southern latitudes, it takes a 10 to truly raise eyebrows.
As we pored over state record largemouth bass from across the continent, it quickly became clear that breaking the 15-pound mark is best achieved south of the Mason-Dixon Line. To be fair, Massachusetts produced a 15-plus back in 1975. And Indiana yielded a 14-pound, 12-ounce record in 1991. But there’s no denying your odds increase in the south and west. Even there, however, the surge of behemoth bass ebbed in the 1980s and ’90s. While reports of huge fish and near-misses have surfaced, few records have fallen in recent years.
As for the world all-tackle record, George Perry’s 22-pound, 4-ounce giant continues to exhibit amazing staying power. We lead off with his catch, followed by a selection of North America’s biggest bass records, with a nod to Massachusetts’ notable northern leviathan.
- Who among us hasn’t gazed in awe at George W. Perry’s catch for the ages? The 22-pound, 4-ounce behemoth he wrestled from Georgia’s Montgomery Lake on June 3, 1932 has topped the recordbooks longer than most bass fans have been alive. Perry, then a young farmer eking out a living during the Great Depression, tipped the bass world on its ear—and kept it there for more than eight decades—with his incredible catch. He hooked the giant fish on a Creek Chub Fintail Shiner, then had both the weight and measurements (32½ inches long, 28½-inch girth) notarized in nearby Helena. While photos of Perry and his bass have for years proven harder to land than another world record, this image is widely believed to the real McCoy, at least of the fish. Supplied to In-Fisherman by retired Augusta Chronicle outdoors editor and dedicated Perry historian Bill Baab, it depicts Perry’s bass being held by an unidentified man. While Perry’s bass retains full rights to the title according to the National Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame, a 22-pound, 4.97-ounce largemouth caught in 2009 by Manabu Kurita in Japan’s Lake Biwa is recognized as a tie by the International Game Fish Association. It did not knock Perry’s fish from the IGFA books because records under 25 pounds must beat the existing record by at least two ounces. Will Perry’s record ever be topped? Giant bass have surfaced in California, including at least one fish that, had it not been foul-hooked, stood a chance at taking the crown. We won’t know until it happens, but one thing is certain, Perry’s bass continues to fuel fine dreams among largemouth aficionados around the world. And in case you’re wondering, it’s also the official Georgia state record.