Fisherman’s big catch might not scale record

Is it a world record or isn’t it?

That’s the question serious bass fishermen and bloggers have been asking since photos of a young angler posing with a huge largemouth bass hit the Internet this month. The fish reportedly weighed 22 pounds, 5 ounces, and measured 29.4 inches, but it wasn’t caught in Southern California where bass hunters have focused their record-seeking efforts for years. Manabu Kurita pulled the monster bass from the waters of Lake Biwa in Japan.

The record of 22 pounds, 4 ounces, belongs to George Perry, who reeled in his record catch June 2, 1932, while casting a Creek Chub Fintail Shiner at Montgomery Lake, Ga.

If the measurements for Kurita’s fish hold up to scrutiny, it will beat Perry’s record by one ounce, but that might not be enough to take over the record. The International Game Fish Association, the keeper of official records, follows a precise set of rules when considering a fish for record status. The rules state, “To replace a record for a fish weighing less than 25 pounds, the replacement must weigh at least 2 ounces more than the existing record.”

The rules also say, “A catch which matches the weight of an existing record or exceeds the weight by less than the amount required to defeat the record will be considered a tie.” So unless the official measurements give Kurita the extra ounce he needs, the best he can hope for is to tie Perry’s 77-year-old record. Either way, my guess is the endorsement contracts are on their way.

Though Perry’s record-setting catch was certified by Field & Stream magazine, critics have had their say. Many questioned whether the fish Perry caught was actually a largemouth bass. Others wondered whether the reported weight of the fish had been fixed. But despite their best efforts, the naysayers were unable to dethrone Perry’s bass, and were less than successful in dampening some anglers’ considerable efforts to catch the record-breaking fish.

In March 2006, Mac Weakley of Carlsbad Calif., gave Perry’s record a close call when he hauled in a 25-pound, 1-ounce bass from California’s Dixon Lake, but because the fish was foul hooked and no measurements were taken before the fish was released, the angler opted not to pursue the record.

It might not be long before Lake Biwa joins Lake Dixon in giving up a 25-pound bucket mouth. According to some blog posts, a net fisherman caught a 251/2-pound largemouth in Lake Biwa this year. Ironically, Japanese officials are trying to eradicate black bass from the lake.

STRIPERS BOILING AT LAKE MEAD — Now is the time to take advantage of some good top-water action as striper boils are picking up around the lake.

David Duncan, president of the Nevada Striper Club, said the shad have spawned out so anglers will want to size their baits down to match the shads’ smaller size.

“Use white baits, use Jumping Minnows, use any kind of a top-water bait and you are going to do well,” he said. “The fish are predominantly back in the wash (Vegas Wash) area near Hole 33 and Government Wash.”

Although a boat definitely makes it easier to access boiling striped bass, you can also access the bite from the shoreline. The key, Duncan said, is getting there early in the morning, just as darkness is giving way to the sunrise.

“We have people leaving the dock area at 4:30 a.m. By the time they get over to that area, the fish are already boiling,” he said.

First thing in the morning, the water is generally calm, so any disturbance on the surface is easily seen by the fish below. Use a semifast popping retrieve.

“You want to get that popping, noisy sound going on, because that’s what is going to bring a fish to your lure,” Duncan said.

If you can’t make it in the early morning, don’t despair. Duncan said the fish begin boiling again around noon and 6 p.m. In the evening, they will boil until dark.

Freelance writer Doug Nielsen is a conservation educator for the Nevada Department of Wildlife. His “In the Outdoors” column, published Thursday in the Las Vegas Review-Journal, is not affiliated with or endorsed by the NDOW. Any opinions he states in his column are his own. He can be reached at dougnielsen@att.net.

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