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Old 12-04-2003, 02:40 PM
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At last, a relevant article....

Bass subject of record dispute

International Game Fish Association

The woman who caught the fish let it go, so it may not qualify for the books.

Statesman Journal
December 3, 2003

It’s a whopper, no doubt. The problem is that it wasn’t a keeper.

So the question for experts is whether the fish is worth $44,448 a pound.

If it is declared the biggest largemouth bass ever caught, the fish Leaha Trew is holding up in a picture could be worth $1 million in endorsements, ap-pearances and speaking fees.

Because of what’s at stake, that’s a really big “if,” said Doug Blodgett, the record administrator for the International Game Fish Association in Florida.

“It is exciting,” he said Tuesday. “But because we realize what a holy grail it is, we’re asking everybody’s opinion.

“We’re really going to discuss this one.”

According to what the fishing duo told association officials, Trew and her son, Javard, were fishing Aug. 24 from a 13-foot inflatable boat on a 72-acre lake at Spring Lake Regional Park in Sonoma County near Trew’s home in Santa Rosa, Calif.

Trew had just switched from a plastic worm when the lunker bass whacked the Storm WildEye 7-inch jerkbait on the end of her 8-pound-test line.

According to their account, Trew’s son netted the fish after a 10-minute battle, and they went to shore and weighed the huge bass on a Bogagrip scale.

“I don’t even want to repeat what I said when I saw it in the net,” Javard said about seeing the fish for the first time.

The scale read 22½ pounds, which is 4 ounces more than the current world all-tackle record that has stood since 1932.

Trew and Javard measure the fish: 29 inches long and 25 inches around the middle.

Javard snapped a single picture of his mom holding the fish toward the camera.

Then they released it.

“Yeah,” Javard said Tuesday when asked if they should have kept the bass. “We didn’t know what the hell we were doing at the time.

“We just measured it, weighed it, and turned it loose, just like we always do.”

And therein lies the conundrum for the record-keepers, Blodgett said.

The only thing that officials know for sure is telling the truth is that Bogagrip scale.

“The scale was sent in beforehand,” Blodgett said about the record application. “We do trust that … to be accurate.”

Javard said his mom isn’t talking much to anyone about the potential world record and won’t until a final decision is made and announced by association officials.

There’s a four-person panel of association experts studying the information submitted in the record application, the photo, the scale, asking questions and weighing the answers.

“There’s only one picture,” Blodgett said. “We can’t even verify the size.”

Also, authorities on largemouth bass and other association officials have submitted opinions and observations, he added.

“As far as the endorsements and stuff like that, we know the story that it’s worth millions of dollars,” Blodgett said about the record.

Trew’s son has a history of record submissions with the National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame, another record-keeping organization based in Wisconsin, Blodgett said.

That would suggest he should have known what his mother was holding, Blodgett said about the massive bass.

To get a sense of what’s at stake, a little history is in order.

June 2, 1932, George W. Perry battled a 22-pound, 4-ounce largemouth from Montgomery Lake, Georgia, using a Creek Chub 2401 Wiggle Fish lure.

During the seven decades since, several million anglers have tried to beat it, coming close a couple of times, but never topping it.

“That’s a long time,” Chuck Lang of Salem said. “And the fishing pressure back 70 years ago wasn’t as much as now. If there is a big fish out there, chances are now it’s going to be caught.”

Lang is conservation chairman for the Oregon chapter of the Bass Anglers Sportsmans Society, a national warmwater conservation and bass tournament fishing organization.

A potential record coming from California makes sense, Lans said.

Right below Perry’s world-beater, the next nine largest bass on record have been taken from California lakes.

Four of those — including the all-time No. 2, a shade more than 22 pounds caught by Bib Crupi in March 1991 — came from Castaic Lake in Southern California.

“I really think California has a better chance to put out big fish,” Lang said. “And you have to give a lot of credit for that not only to the environment but to the Fish and Wildlife Department for valuing warmwater fishing.”

Blodgett wouldn’t hazard a guess as to when the association would make its final ruling, or what the verdict would be. But he added that he hopes it’s soon because of the media calls. They have picked up since a story about Trew’s bass appeared in the November-December issue of the association newsletter, International Angler.

“The last 20 people to call all asked the same question,” Blodgett said. “As far as a timeline, I don’t know” when a decision will be made.

If Blodgett was hedging his bets about the outcome, Lang was more blunt, given the implications of the decision, saying it is a matter of habeas corpus, a legal term that in Latin means “you have the body.”

“I think the world’s largest bass is going to require a dead bass,” he said.

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