George Perry’s 22-pound, 4-ounce world-record bass has been freshwater fishing’s unbreakable record for no less than 74 years. Yesterday, Mac Weakley of Carlsbad, CA, blew it out of the water, landing a 25-pound, 1-ounce behemoth from southern California’s celebrated Dixon Lake. Weakley’s incredible catch should land him huge cash prizes, endorsements, and instant hero status—except for one sticking point, which the angler himself readily admits: “It’s a great day, but it’s a bad day,” Weakley told the San Diego Union Tribune. “It was a valiant effort. We’ve been trying and trying to catch this fish for years. It’s the world-record bass. Unfortunately, it was foul-hooked.”
While working a white Rattlesnake jig over the giant bass’ spawning bed, Weakley unintentionally snagged the fish in the left side just under the dorsal fin. So, here’s the hang up: Under state regulations, which stipulate that a fish must take the bait in its mouth voluntarily, Weakley’s catch is illegal. However, the International Game Fish Association rule states only that a catch may be disqualified if “intentionally” foul-hooked—and several witnesses have already verified that Weakley did not snag the monster on purpose. To complicate matters further, the bass was apparently not weighed on certified scales.
Whether or not the IGFA will make Weakley’s fish the new world-record bass is still up in air, and may be an uphill battle for the angler. One thing, however, is certain: Tiny 76-acre Dixon Lake is about to be mad-rushed by record-seeking anglers from every corner of the nation and globe: After landing the biggest largemouth ever caught, Weakley tossed it back, later saying “We figured that was the right thing to do.”
In Field & Stream’s March 2004 issue, we predicted why Dixon Lake was poised to make history.
Read the full story here: The Best Little Bass Lake in America
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