Manabu Kurita and George Perry have one thing in common. They both caught a world record largemouth bass.
Perry caught his in a Georgia lake in June of 1932 and Kurita bagged his trophy 77 years later - July 2, 2009. This is an official tie for the IGFA world record at 22 pounds, 4 ounces. Even though the Japanese bass weighed almost an ounce more than Perry's it's still considered a tie. Any bass under 25 pounds must exceed the other's weight by a full two ounces to beat the record. No one in bass fishing circles would have ever guessed the next tie or world record would have come from Japan's Lake Biwa.
The last 10 years or so huge near-record size largemouth bass have been coming from reservoirs in California, and several big fish have been bagged in Mexico and Texas. Most of these jumbo California bass are taken on giant 10-14-inch trout imitation swimbait type lures. Since most of these lakes are stocked with trout it is the proven lure to use.
Capt. George Tunison
It is my understanding that the record was broken in California a few years back, possibly twice, but these fish were not properly documented and not recognized by the IGFA. One was reported weighing 25 pounds, smashing the record, but released.
Kurita's fish was caught using a live bluegill for bait while the 1932 record-holder was caught with a lure (a Creek Chub Wigglefish), Perry's only lure. That fish was not mounted or preserved, but was eaten the same day. It's a bit odd that America's most prized freshwater sportfish is a non native, stocked fish in Japan and is considered by many there to be a "trash" fish.
After months of questions and affidavits, and then finally a polygraph test, Kurita's bass was accepted as an official tie for the world record by the IGFA. What are the odds of catching a 22-pound, 4-ounce world record bass in the first place?
Fishing is picking up locally due to warming waters, but still far from normal. Many fish that survived the initial deep freeze were stressed to a very dangerous point. Like humans, severe stress can open them to disease. Being in the aquarium shipping and retailing business for 15 years I have seen this countless times. Perfectly healthy fish would be delivered to stores in pure oxygen/water shipping bags packed in Styrofoam containers. Sometimes the airlines would damage and crack the boxes allowing the outside cold to chill the fish. Days later, these perfectly healthy tropical fish would develop a number of sometimes terminal conditions. It's no different on our local fishing grounds. We will continue to find dead and dying fish for sometime to come.
If you are having a hard time finding fish in your typical hot spot, resort to drifting the grass flats in three- to six-feet of water. Be quiet and set up a long drift using the wind. Employing popping corks baited with lively shrimp with leaders adjusted to no more than a foot off bottom usually will get you in fish dinner territory.
For guys like me that can't sit still, use light line and cast live shrimp on the lightest jighead that will allow you to tick the bottom. Reel slowly and give occasional subtle twitches to your scout down below. Removing the shrimp's tail will allow more scent to disperse.
Don't forget the seventh year of the Kids Cup Redfish Tournament and redfish tracking project will be held May 15. There is a limit of 125 entrants ages 10-16 and entry and sponsor forms are in tackle shops as well as www.kidscuptournament.com
All fish will be tagged and 20 will be surgically implanted with transmitters at a cost of $325 each for scientific research. Come out for a great cause.
Capt. George Tunison is a Cape Coral resident fishing guide. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or Flying Fins Sportfishing.