Illinois Outdoors at PrairiestateOutdoors.com
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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
 

Scattershooting

A Web log by Jeff Lampe of the Journal Star

Illinois hunting and fishing

A chat with Ray Scott

July 13, 2009 at 04:09 PM

Word that someone in Japan had caught a record bass immediately made me think of Ray Scott.

You know Ray. The big hoss with the white hat and the big idea that changed bass fishing forever.Illinois hunting and fishing He’s the guy who founded the Bass Anglers Sportsman Society and who is probably responsible, indirectly, for largemouth bass winding up in Japan.

While Ray is no longer closely tied to BASS, some things about him have not changed over the years. He knows how to entertain. And he has strong opinions.

For instance, here’s his take on Manabu Kurita’s 29.4-inch largemouth bass (angler and fish picture above) that weighed a hair under 22 pounds, 5 ounces and a hair more than the reigning record of 22-4 caught by George Perry some 77 years ago.

“I think it’s wonderful. I’m the first guy to congratulate the guy who catches one,” Scott said during a phone interview last week. “My second consideration is to make damn sure it’s real. And I certainly have no reason to think otherwise. We’re delighted now there’s a record. But I want absolute and total verification. So we need to have a polygraph done. We won’t ask about his sex life or eating habits. All we want are the acts in the record claim.”

Scott said the International Game Fish Association agrees with him on this subject. He has also offered to pay for the costs of a polygraph test.

“Let’s celebrate after we confirm this,” he said.

Scott is guarded about his opinion on records based in part on an incident involving Leaha Trew of California (below). Illinois hunting and fishingYou may recall that in 2003, Trew had reportedly caught and released a 22-pound, 8-ounce largemouth bass out of Spring Lake in California. The fish would have broken Perry’s long-standing world record bass of 22-4.

“You’ve got to have absolute verification,” Scott said at the time. “Catch and release is a powerful religion, but there’s a time when you take a few out for the welfare of the entire fishery. The records are sacred. Nobody loves bass more than me. But the record is too important to let it go. It should hang on a wall somewhere forever.

“I’m not saying she’s a crook, but when you release a fish you release a record unless it is verified by the proper authorities.”

The only witnesses to Trew’s catch were her son and a picnicker at the park. The only proof of the catch was the one photograph above, that earned Trew the nickname “The Hand.” In addition to questions about the picture, the fish’s length and girth measurements were smaller than those of existing record fish. Trew’s fish measured 29 inches long and had a girth of 25 inches. Perry’s fish was 32 inches long and had a 28-inch girth.

Given all that, the IGFA set up a polygraph test for Trew’s son, the witness to the fish.

“Finally he agreed to do it. We had it all set up and guess who didn’t show up,” Scott said. “Hey, I’m not saying their story wasn’t true. But all fishermen are liars except you and me, and I’m not really sure about you.”

Then again, Scott has lingering doubts about Perry’s fish, which was caught from a lake in Georgia that has never produced a bass even close to that size in the years since. With that in mind, in the mid-1970s Scott sent a reporter named Terry Drake to interview Perry. One of Drake’s directives was to ask Perry on tape whether he would take a polygraph test to “quiet all the naysayers.”

Drake never asked Perry that question, telling Scott later, “There’s no need to do that, he’s the greatest guy.”

Scott was incensed and became even angrier a short time later.

“You know what happened? Three weeks later George Perry died. He was delivering a plane to Birmingham (Ala.) and crashed into the top of a mountain,” Scott said. “You know what happened to Terry Drake? I fired his ass.”

In regards to the latest possible record bass, Scott also has an interesting take on the controversy over Japan viewing bass as an “alien species.”

“I think one of the typical restraints on catching bigger bass is because sometimes we have too many bass,” said Scott, the father of catch-and-release fishing in the United States. “That’s kind of an odd commentary, I guess. I’ve got a lake with a lot of big fish. We don’t have any 20 pounders yet, but we harvest the heck out of fish. Everything 16 inches and under is history.”

Another interesting take from Ray Scott, not that there’s any surprise there.

Speaking of interesting, Click here to read a column from Ken Duke, senior editor of BASS Publications, on why Kurita’s bass is not worth $1 million.

 

 

 

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