Perry was fishing in Montgomery Lake, an oxbow off the Ocmulgee River near Jacksonville, Georgia. After catching the fish he took it into town and was told about the Field and Stream big bass contest. The fish was weighed on official scales and notarized in nearby Helena, Georgia. The fish was 32 1/2 inches long and 28 1/2 inches in girth.
My father grew up just outside Jacksonville and knew the Perry family. He did not remember anything about the big bass since he was only ten years old when it was caught. Dad did tell me tales of fishing the Ocmulgee River and Montgomery Lake as a child. They were fishing for food, as was Perry. The world record bass was eaten after being weighed.
There is some dispute over the lure used to catch the record. Perry said he had only one lure and it was definitely a Creek Chub. The Historic Marker on Georgia Highway 117 four miles east of Jacksonville says the fish was caught on a Creek Chub Perch Scale Wigglefish. Perry states in a 1973 taped interview that he caught the fish on a Creek Chub Fintail Shiner.
A bass fisherman catching a new world record bass could parlay it into millions of dollars if promoted right. Texas has been trying to grow a new world record for years with their “Share A Lunker” program but have not been successful.
California produces some huge bass, too. Bass are not native but they have been stocked and are fed trout in many lakes. A monster bass was caught there two years ago that weighed over 25 pounds but it was foul hooked while bedding. The bass was let go without being officially weighed but pictures show an immense fish.
That bass was the target of three fanatical fishermen who dedicated their lives to catching it. It has a distinctive black spot on it and they called her “Dottie.” She was caught when she weighed 21 pounds, 11 ounces in 2003 and released. Then in 2006 she was foul hooked on the bed and weighed 25 pounds, 1 ounce.
Dottie was found floating dead this spring. She weighed 19 pounds when found, well under the record but she had probably spawned and also lost weight after dying. One of the fishermen who had been chasing her for years identified her and said he thought Perry’s record would probably never be beaten now.
For many years one of the biggest disappointments about Perry’s fish was the lack of a picture. A couple of years ago a relative of Perry’s found a picture and it’s probably the record bass. It shows an unknown man and a young boy holding up a huge bass. In the background of the picture there is enough detail to show it was taken at the Post Office in Helena where the bass was weighed.
Perry also mentioned other pictures of the fish in a 1935 letter to Creek Chub. If they exist they have not been found in the four years since the letter was discovered.
Perry’s record bass grew to its huge size in its natural habitat. Some say bass grown by biologists like in Texas or bass grown where they are not native like in California should not be considered for the record. In either case, someone has to make the cast that lands a bass weighing over 22 pounds, 4 ounces to beat our Georgia world record. I hope it never happens.
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