By: Shaye Baker
The largemouth bass world record is the most sought-after fishing record in the world. Perhaps the most valuable as well, with different organizations offering rewards in the millions of dollars over the years. With those kinds of incentives and the fact that there are millions of anglers hitting the water every year, one would think it’s only a matter of time before a new record-setting bass is caught. But time seems to be on the side of the current world record holders so far.
Think you have what it takes to haul in the next record? So do we, but you’ll need the right tools for the job.
1. George Perry: 22 Pounds, 4 Ounces
The 22-pound, 4-ounce behemoth that currently holds the world record was caught some 89 years ago by George Perry on June 2, 1932, from Montgomery Lake in Georgia. A haze of folklore surrounds this fish and that day. Tales of how this trip developed have been passed around for nearly 90 years. Of how Perry and a buddy opted to spend the day fishing as the fields on the farm dried from recent rains.
With only one rod between them and in a time when food was scarce and the idea of just fishing for fun seemed ludicrous, the duo was on a meat run and found enough fish in one bite to feed Perry’s family of 6 for 2 days. Some tall tales for sure and an unsettling thought for most anglers these days, that this fish fell victim to catch-and-release in the grease. But regardless of one’s personal convictions towards eating a bass, that’s the way the story goes.
This is the least photographed, most talked about fish of all time. In a land before cellphones, we have but a few glimpses of the biggest bass ever officially certified by the International Fish and Game Administration (IFGA), the governing body of world records and such. The IFGA came along 7 years after Perry’s catch, but the bass was grandfathered in as the largest of all time, at the time. And the record held for 77 years… has held for 89 years? Is still holding? Let me explain the confusion.
2. Manabu Kurita: 22 Pounds, 4 Ounces
Japanese angler Manabu Kurita made the best run (so far) at taking down George’s giant. Some would even argue Kurita accomplished the monumental task, and they could be right. On July 2, 2009, while fishing Lake Biwa in Japan, Kurita caught a 22-pound, 5-ounce largemouth bass. You read that right, no typo. I said 22 pounds and 5 ounces. An ounce heavier than Perry’s record, but here’s the catch. To officially become an undisputed new world record, IFGA requires a fish to be a full 2-ounces heavier. That’s tough. So officially, the two are tied as the heaviest of all time.
Lake Biwa, an already famed fishery, has received lots more attention since Kurita’s catch. This monster and the fishery are particularly interesting because largemouth bass isn’t native to Japan, instead the fish were stocked there in several fisheries over the years. It appears the habitat is suited for growing big ones.
3. Robert Crupi: 22 Pounds
Only one other bass has officially broken the 22- pound mark so far. Robert Crupi pulled a bass weighing 22 pounds even out of Castaic Lake in California on March 12, 1991. Another famed fishery, Castaic Lake is responsible for several monstrous bass, as is Robert Crupi. Both names will pop up again in a minute. But first, this 22-pounder was caught and released by Crupi as another angler, Jeff Ackerman, looked on.
When asked about keeping the fish or releasing it, Crupi stated, “Before I even weighed the fish, I knew that as healthy as she was, I was going to release her.” Crupi, a frequent visitor of Castaic at the time knew the importance of keeping this fish in the gene pool if the world record was going to come from Castaic. It hasn’t yet, but no telling how many double-digit bass have been spawned through the lineage of Crupi’s 22-pounder in the last two decades.
4. Raymond Easley: 21 Pounds, 3 Ounces
Raymond Easley brought the next heavyweight contender to the scales in 1980 out of Oak View in California. At the time of Easley’s catch, this was the closest anyone had come to Perry’s world record. Though the bass didn’t topple the overall world record, it did set and still holds the record for the men’s 8-pound test line. Astonishing to think a fish this size was hauled in with just 8- pound test.
5. Robert Crupi (Again!): 21 PoundsRobert Crupi makes his reappearance to round out the top 5 with a 21-pound bass he pulled from Castaic Lake on March 9, 1990. The only angler with 2 bass in the top 5, it’s apparent that Crupi can catch the big bass. In all, Crupi holds 4 world records, having spent the better part of a lifetime chasing giants.