A lot of anglers have caught monster largemouth bass, but only one has the record. Well, kind of.
Last updated: February 13, 2022
By: Jon Stewart
Have you ever caught a really big largemouth bass?
There isn’t a bass fisherman on this earth that hasn’t dreamed of catching a massive lunker. The dreams and effort to catch a truly memorable fish often generate questions about what size is achievable for the species of largemouth bass. What’s the story behind the biggest largemouth bass ever caught—including size, weight, location, season, and bait?
We want to know all of this so that we can know how far we can dream. What are the odds of breaking the world record for largemouth bass? Unfortunately, the odds are quite slim—since the original record was established in 1932, and has yet to be broken. 🕰
Ready to learn more about this incredible largemouth bass world record? Let’s dive in! 👇
The existing world record largemouth bass was caught on June 2, 1932. The massive bass weighed a total 22 lbs 4 ounces. It was caught by a nineteen-year-old farm boy named George Perry.
Though only fishing to feed his family, Perry accidentally landed the biggest largemouth bass ever caught. In a small wooden boat with extremely limited tackle, Perry caught the world-record-holding fish that remains only recently tied.
Due to Perry fishing primarily for food amid the Great Depression, and far before the times of readily available camera equipment and fast-moving news, there aren’t many details about the once-in-a-lifetime fish. What is known is its size and place of catch which both are indicative of trophy bass behavior. It would seem that Perry’s fish was observing a typical summer pattern; stalking sizeable baitfish around shallow water structures.
Perry caught his record largemouth bass at Lake Montgomery, an oxbow lake formed by the Ocmulgee River deep in the heart of Georgia. As the Ocmulgee river changed course over time, its terraforming currents left crescent-shaped lakes dotting the Georgia heartland.
With banks swallowed by muddy water and surrounded by mixed timber, it appears no different from the vast network of sloughs and creeks throughout the south. However, the combination of an oxbow lake’s stability being fed by a large river has managed to produce exceptional fish.
The region has now become famous, being well-known for Perry catching the biggest largemouth bass on record. Anglers from all over the world know Lake Montgomery—and the southern United States in general—are known for producing monster largemouth bass.
Perry caught his famous fish on a creek chub fin tail shiner, a double treble hooked crankbait that imitates a small perch. It sported the coloration common to small yellow perch with characteristic vertical stripes set against a green skin and red accents. Though at the time it was just a crankbait, it has become a window into American history.
When Perry landed the world record-setting bass, the Great Depression was in full swing. This led Perry to be far more concerned with potentially losing the lure, rather than paying attention to the exceptionally large bass he had just caught.
Perry would only receive $75 of merchandise from Field and Stream for his catch. However, the long-standing unbroken record influenced the lawmakers of Georgia to name the largemouth bass as the official state fish.
Despite such an accomplishment, Perry would fade into obscurity for some time as a quirky airport manager known for his pranks. Unfortunately, he would never see old age. In 1974, over 40 years since his record-breaking catch, he died when his plane crashed into Shades Mountain amidst bad weather.
Perry’s record remains unbroken, but not unchallenged.
In 2009, on the other side of the planet, Manabu Kurita caught a 22 lbs 4 ounces largemouth bass in Lake Biwa, Japan. Despite several layers of controversy about the local fishing laws and Kurita’s compliance with them, the International Game Fish Association (IGFA) officially recognized the fish as a tie. To date, this is the only fish that has come close to displacing Perry as the record holder.
In 1978, IGFA took over the management of world records from Field and Stream for more than 1,100 species of fish. To this day, IGFA consider’s Perry’s original world record unbroken, as there has never been a bigger largemouth bass caught, on record.
Considering the stories of Kurita and Perry as examples of how to catch bigger largemouth bass, there is a lot to be learned. There are many similarities between the two fish. Both fishermen leveraged the large bass’s preference for large baitfish. They also focused on shallow water structure with access to a deep water travel corridor to their advantage. Understanding why these two commonalities are important is key for trophy largemouth bass fishing.
Due to their size, double-digit weighing largemouth bass are forced to be exceptionally efficient. They will only strike when presented with a target that guarantees a reward of a large calorie surplus for their efforts. Therefore, they will only strike when they are presented with the right target at the right place—in the right way. Taking this into consideration is crucial when endeavoring to land exceptionally large bass.
While larger lures will produce far less fish, the fish that they do hook up with will be exceptionally large. This means that catching bigger largemouth bass is something only for the most patient fishermen. Action-packed search baits will likely produce some results but often will only catch the run-of-mill adults. The true behemoths of the muddy waters will only go for much slower moving baits. 18’’ Texas rigged worms, flipping a jig, flukes, and other soft plastics fished very slowly are clutch when it comes to catching big bass.
Additionally, any largemouth bass is an ambush predator, but as they increase in size this characteristic becomes all the more prominent. Do not expect to pull world record-breaking bass from submerged cover or off of a terrain feature in deep water. The truly large fish are almost always caught in shallow water next to stumps or trees. This is due to the food chain.
The above-water structure brings in bugs—and those bugs feed the baitfish below. In turn, the bass feeds on the calorie-dense, protein-rich baitfish while they are attempting to feed on the bugs falling into the water. Stealth is key here as the fish are alert to threats from above.
There are many ways to achieve this. Sometimes, fishing from land will be sufficient. Other times however, manuevarble watercraft are needed to access hard-to-reach areas. Kayaks offer many advantages, if they’re used for bass fishing the right way.
Perry set an example of what possibilities lay in the muddy waters of bass fishing nearly 80 years ago. Fishing baitfish imitators next to structures in shallow water during summer-time bass fishing is a formula for success. With the patience of a stone, they must be ready to wait for a single quality bite all day. If anglers bear Perry’s achievement in mind and learn from his example, they can surely achieve their personal best.
The average lifespan of a largemouth bass is around sixteen years. Once a largemouth bass is past its juvenile years and has acquired a size of 4-6lbs, it generally enjoys a life of little predation and disease.
An average largemouth bass grows to 4-6 lbs depending on the latitude in which it is caught. More northern latitudes will have smaller bass due to the shortened growing season, but more southern largemouths will achieve much greater size on average.
A 10lbs bass is roughly 10 years old depending on latitude, local environment, and genetics. One study conducted in Florida found the average 10lbs bass to be 9.7 years old. However, Florida will generally grow fish bigger and faster due to its environment.
The state known for having the largest bass is California. Out of the top 11 largemouth bass caught, 8 of them were caught in California.
Largemouth bass usually get around 16 inches long and weigh around 5 pounds. However, this is highly dependent on where they are and what the local environment is like.
The biggest smallmouth bass ever caught was 11 pounds 15 ounces by David Hayes on the Tennessee-Kentucky border. Due to a controversy surrounding a game and fish worker, Hayes lost the record for some time but ultimately was reinstated as the world record smallmouth bass holder.
The biggest largemouth bass ever caught in a pond was 12 pounds 14 ounces in Mashapaug Pond in Connecticut by Frank Domurat. Ponds, if managed correctly, can be a prime environment for growing exceptionally large bass.