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Reel Time Fishing Northwest

Mark Yuasa covers fishing and outdoors in the Pacific Northwest.

January 8, 2010 at 10:45 AM

Manabu Kurita of Japan ties 77-year old largemouth bass world record


Word has just come out from the International Game Fish Association [IGFA] Headquarters in Dania Beach, Fla. that the world record for largemouth bass has been tied by Manabu Kurita of Aichi, Japan.

“This record has been on everybody’s radar for a substantial amount of time [and] we received the record back in Sept. 19,” the IGFA Conservation Director Jason Schratwieser said in a news conference this morning [Jan. 8].

“We are pleased to announce that this record has been formally accepted, and does tie George Perry for the all-time record for largemouth bass.”

The largemouth bass ties the record held for over 77 years by Perry caught on Georgia’s Montgomery Lake, back on June 2, 1932 near Jacksonville, Georgia.

The IGFA, the 70-year old nonprofit fisheries conservation, education and record-keeping body, received the application this past fall through the Japan Game Fish Association (JGFA) for the 22 pound, 4 ounce largemouth bass caught July 2 in Lake Biwa northeast of Kyoto by Kurita.

Over the last five months, IGFA has been engaged in collecting a considerable amount of information and testimony from the angler, fisheries authorities and representatives from the IGFA’s sister organization, the JGFA.

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.

“However, almost right away rumors began to circulate that Kurita may have caught his fish in a ‘no-fishing zone,” Schratwieser said.

“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 Kurita did not violate any laws and that his catch was indeed legitimate.”

More storm conflicts brewed as well.

During this time, the IGFA was also besieged with letters and e-mails from the bass fishing community, said Schratwieser.

“Many were incredulous that the All-Tackle record could be tied from a fish in Japan.”

Others beseeched the IGFA to approve the record and give Kurita the credit he deserves. Still others wanted to know why the entire process was taking so long. It soon became clear to the IGFA staff that this would be a contentious issue no matter if the record were approved or rejected.

“Everything was very well documented,” Schratwieser said. “This record is so iconic and quite frankly its caused us legal trouble in the past from people wanting to sue us. We thought it was in the best interest of not only of IGFA, but that of the angler as well if he took a polygraph test.”

“Most people would understand that there is significant cultural differences between the U.S. and Japan so we were very sensitive and careful to put our suggestion or requirement for the angler to take a polygraph test, and didn’t want to violate any cultural aspect over there. He [Kurita] agreed to take the test on Dec. 15 and passed everything with flying colors.”

Largemouth bass have also been introduced in many countries and in Japan fisheries officials consider it an invasive species.

Kurita’s fish measured 27.20 inches long and a girth of 26.77 inches.

Kurita was using a Deps Sidewinder rod and a Shimano Antares DC7LV reel loaded with 25 pound Toray line when he pitched his bait, a live bluegill through a canal next to a bridge piling.

It was Kurita’s first cast to the piling where he had seen a big bass swimming. Kurita 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.

A news release sent out by IGFA says for over 77 years the record stood as bass fanatics theorized when and where the record would be broken. Over the years there have been rumors and unsubstantiated reports of bass that could have tied or eclipsed Perry’s record, but nothing ever passed IGFA criteria.

Some anglers did come close, however.

Schratwieser said the closest came in 1991, when Robert Crupi caught a 22 pound bass in Lake Dixon, California USA, that still reigns as the 16 lb line class record and the third heaviest approved bass record in IGFA history.

“Most people thought that the next All-Tackle record would come from California. Until Kurita’s tie the seven heaviest bass records behind Perry’s came from California lakes. Although not native to California, it appears transplanted bass have adapted quite well to the deep, clear lakes and reservoirs and the abundant trout forage found in some of them.

“Little did people know that introduced bass grew big in places besides California, and that there are true monsters swimming on the other side of the world in Japan.”

Annually the IGFA publishes a comprehensive list of current records on nearly 1,100 species of fresh and saltwater fish across the globe in its highly acclaimed World Record Game Fishes (WRGF) book which is divided into all-tackle, line classes, fly, and junior record categories.

The IGFA has been recognized as the official keeper of world saltwater fishing records since its founding in 1939. In 1978 it added the field of freshwater record-keeping when Field & Stream magazine transferred its 68 years of records to the IGFA Fishing Hall of Fame & Museum, the association’s world headquarters in Dania Beach, Fla.

(Photo courtesy of the IGFA)



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