Records in today’s professional sports are eclipsed all the time, it seems. From home runs and batting titles in baseball, points scored in basketball, and yards rushing in football, the standards of excellence are always rising.
It will be 75 years ago this coming Saturday--on June 2, 1932–when a 20-year-old Georgian by the name of George Washington Perry was sharing a fishing rod and single lure with a friend when he landed a 22-pound, 4-ounce largemouth bass. Since that time long ago on Montgomery Lake, Perry’s bass has withstood multiple challenges–but today remains the holy grail of bass fishing.
Put in context, the fact that Perry’s record still stands is truly mind-boggling. While hundreds of professional athletes compete for their respective record books each year, literally millions of bass anglers have had the opportunity to surpass the Perry mark–for three-quarters of a century!
The record was nearly shattered in 2006 when California angler Mac Weakley landed and released a bass at Dixon Lake that weighed 25 pounds on a digital hand-held scale. Unfortunately, the fish was foul-hooked at did not qualify under International Game Fish Association standards as a new record.
Weakley, along with several of his California angling cohorts has been on a mission to break Perry’s record in recent years. Their exploits were the subject of a popular book, Sowbelly: The Obsessive Quest for the World Record Largemouth Bass, by Monte Burke.
It is said that the bass that finally outweighs the Perry fish will be worth millions of dollars in endorsements to the angler who lands it.
So, what did George Perry receive for his behemoth bass?
By winning the Field & Stream magazine fishing contest in 1932 (the publication kept records prior to the IGFA), Perry got a $75 gift certificate he redeemed for a Browning automatic shotgun, a rod and reel, shotgun shells and outdoor clothing and gear.
Oh yeah, and he ate the fish.