The Story Behind the World Record Smallmouth Bass

The Only Thing better than having a catch named a world record is having it named twice. In July 1955, Kentucky angler David L. Hayes was trolling a pearl Bomber 600 on Dale Hollow Lake, which spans the Kentucky-Tennessee border, when his lure was stopped by what turned out to be an 11-pound 15-ounce smallmouth bass. The fish was certified as a world-record rod-and-reel catch by FIELD & STREAM, then the keeper of freshwater fishing records. The Hayes smallmouth was considered the world's largest for 40 years until an affidavit surfaced from a dock worker, who claimed to have stuffed weights into the fish. By this time, the International Game Fish Association was maintaining all records, and concerned IGFA officials disqualified the Hayes record.

When an investigation into the affidavit turned up several holes in the dock worker's story, the IGFA reinstated the record last December.

Hayes, now 80, never lost confidence. "They could say what they wanted," he says. "I had the fun and I have the fish. I never had any doubt what it weighed."