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Jeff Lampe
Jeff Lampe

Jeff Lampe has been outdoor writer at the Journal Star in Peoria for 12 duck seasons. He lives in Elmwood with his wife Monica, sons Henry, Victor and Walter, and Llewellin setter Hawkeye. A native of Buffalo, N.Y., he is an avid fan of the Bills and still has mental scars from four consecutive Super Bowl losses. Outside of hunting and fishing, Lampe's main passion in Illinois was Class A boys basketball (which sadly no longer exists). Former publisher of the Class A Weekly newsletter, Lampe is a co-author of "100 Years of Madness" and "Classical Madness," both books focusing on prep basketball in Illinois.

Illinois Outdoors


A Web log by Jeff Lampe of the Journal Star

Illinois hunting and fishing

Japan adds to record bass saga

July 09, 2009 at 03:30 PM

The quest for a world record bass never fails to entertain.

For instance, who would have guessed a possible record bass could come out of a lake where largemouths are not welcome — a lake where bass are viewed with the scorn we reserve for Asian carp?

And who would have imagined the latest lunker might officially tie George Perry’s existing record despite actually weighing more?

Finally, who would have guessed the world record bass would be caught by a Japanese angler with blonde hair?

All those details and more spice up the latest entry in the consistently weird saga of the world record bass.

Reports are that Japanese angler Manabu Kurita caught a 29.4-inch largemouth bass weighing 10.12 kilograms on July 2 out of Japan’s massive Lake Biwa.

Illinois hunting and fishing

The weight translates to a hair under 22 pounds, 5 ounces and a hair more than the reigning record of 22-4.

That record was caught 77 years ago by Perry out of Montgomery Lake in Jacksonville, Ga. Perry’s 32.5-inch fish did not cause much of a stir at the time and only one alleged picture of the fish exists. No surprise there, since Perry eventually ate the record, which hes aid had a “fishy” taste.

Illinois hunting and fishing

But in keeping with our digital age, news of Kurita’s fish spanned the globe almost immediately. Since last Friday pictures and a video of the bass have spread like wildfire, prompting analysis by numerous experts.

“The girth looks right. Everything looks right about it” said Ken Duke, senior editor for BASS publications. “It seems closer and more of a real deal than any situation we’ve seen.”

Illinois hunting and fishing

Even so there are plenty of issues to rankle bass purists. For one, early reports said Kurita caught his big bass on live bait (possibly a bluegill) though he is sponsored by Japanese lure maker Deps Tackle. Only later did Kurita state he caught the fish on a swim bait made by Deps Tackle, one of his sponsors.

Then too, black bass are viewed as an “alien species” in Lake Biwa, a clear, deep body of water thought to be one of the world’s 20 oldest lake. Bass and bluegill were stocked in the 1980s and their success has prompted concerns about impacts on native species.

As a result, Japanese officials have attempted to halt the spread of black bass, which are served on the menu of the Lake Biwa Museum Restaurant.

Adding to the weirdness of this affair is that Kurita’s fish might be ruled tied with Perry’s despite weighing more. According to International Game Fish Association rules, any fish under 25 pounds must exceed the previous mark by two ounces to stand on its own as an official record.

“I think the reason for that was probably twofold. Back in the day our founding fathers probably wanted some area of significance you had to meet to beat an existing record,” said Jason Schratwieser, conservation director of the 60-year-old IGFA. “It probably was also brought into play to account for variability between scales.”

Then again, controversy is nothing new to the record bass quest. Perry’s fish has long been questioned, even by officials in the Bass Anglers Sportsman Society.

And controversy has really flared in the past six years.
In 2003, Leaha “Big Hand” Trew of Santa Rosa, Calif. claimed to have caught and released a 22-8 bass. Her application, which included one picture and her son as a witness, was rejected.

Just three years ago Mac Weakley caught a 25.1-pound bass out of California’s tiny Lake Dixon. But the fish was foul-hooked — snagged behind the gill near the dorsal fin. According to California regulations any fish not hooked in the mouth is ineligible for record consideration.

So Weakley released the fish, then considered applying with the IGFA before public outcry convinced him otherwise.

This time there is no question of foul-hooking. Yet time will tell whether Kurita’s fish is approved by the IGFA, or if it is even submitted for consideration.
Schratwieser said through Thursday, the IGFA had received no application.

If an application materializes, BASS founder Ray Scott is one who hopes a polygraph test is part of the process. “I want absolute and total verification,” Scott said.

Illinois hunting and fishing

Illinois hunting and fishing


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