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Today the IGFA approved Kurita's application for the fish caught from Japan's largest lake on July 2, 2009. The 70-year old non-profit fisheries conservation, education and record-keeping body, received Kurita's application and documentation on Sept. 19, 2009. The largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides), was caught from Lake Biwa which is an ancient reservoir northeast of Kyoto.
Kurita, 32, of Aichi, Japan, was fishing Biwa that July day using a Deps Sidewinder rod and a Shimano Antares DC7LV reel loaded with 25 lb Toray line when he pitched his bait, a live bluegill, next to a bridge piling. It was Kurita's first cast to the piling where he had seen a big bass swimming. He only twitched the bait a couple of times before he got bit. After a short, three minute fight he had the fish in the boat.
Kurita was quoted as saying "I knew it was big, but I didn't know it was that big."
But big it was. Using certified scales, his fish weighed in at 10.12 kg or 22 lb 4 oz. When measured, the fish had a fork length of 27.2 inches and a girth of 26.7 inches. The IGFA only has line classes up to 20 lb for largemouth bass, so Kurita had no chance at a line class record as well.
IGFA rules for fish caught outside the U.S. allows anglers 90 days to submit their applications from the date of their catch. The documentation was received through the IGFA's sister association the Japan Game Fish Association (JGFA). IGFA conservation director Jason Schratwieser said Kurita's application was meticulously documented with the necessary photos and video.
Kurita's fish ties the current record held for over 77 years by Perry who caught his bass on Georgia's Montgomery Lake, June 2, 1932, near Jacksonville, Georgia. That 22 lb 4 oz behemoth won Field and Stream Magazine's big fish contest and 46 years later, when the IGFA took over freshwater records from Field and Stream, it became the All-Tackle record now one of over 1,100 fresh and saltwater species the IGFA monitors.
IGFA All-Tackle records are now free for viewing by the public at igfa.org. Kurita's name is now on the IGFA Web site with that of Perry's and will appear in the 2011 edition of the World Record Games Fishes book…. unless that record is broken this year.
The IGFA announced the decision at its headquarters with a live video feed carried on Bassmaster.com, one of the most popular fishing Web sites in the world and the official site of the Bass Anglers Sportsman Society (BASS).
In North America the largemouth bass, and especially the All-Tackle record, is considered by millions of anglers as the "holy grail" of freshwater fish because of its popularity and the longevity of Perry's record. That fish undoubtedly helped to spawn a billion dollar industry that today makes up a significant part of the sport of recreational fishing.
Schratwieser said, "The moment Kurita weighed his fish, word spread like wildfire. We knew this would be significant so we immediately contacted the JGFA for more information. Established in 1979, and JGFA compiles and translates all record applications of fish caught in Japan before forwarding to the IGFA.
"It works out well because they not only translate applications but can also contact the angler if more documentation is needed."
It turned into a lengthy process
"Since the IGFA requires three months from the time of capture before a record can be approved, the official word would have to wait until October 2," said Schratwieser.
"However, almost right away rumors began to circulate that Kurita may have caught his fish in a 'no-fishing zone'. In response, the IGFA immediately corresponded with the JGFA to speak with the angler about this issue and to gather information regarding the legality of fishing where Kurita caught his bass. Official word came back that the location of the catch was not a no-fishing zone, but was an area where anchoring or stopping was prohibited. This spurred more correspondence with the JGFA and the angler, including affidavits asking the angler if he stopped his boat at anytime. Again, the testimony and affidavits that came back indicated that the Kurita did not violate any laws and that his catch was indeed legitimate."