Lea Anne Powell of Jackson, Texas was fishing on O.H. Ivie Lake with guide Dalton Smith back in February when she boated a 12-pound, 3-ounce largemouth bass after an intense 10-minute battle. Exhausted, Powell put the fish in Smith’s live well, and they took it to a nearby gas station and RV park where it was weighed on a certified scale. After recording its official weight, they re-launched the boat and released the bass. At the time, neither Smith nor Powell had any idea that it was a contender for a new International Game Fish Association (IGFA) world record.
“I was at the Bassmaster Classic in Knoxville back in March, and I told a friend of mine about the fish and showed him some pictures,” Powell tells Field & Stream. “He said, ‘You should get that fish certified.’” Powell decided to take the advice. She submitted a comprehensive list of required information to the IGFA and sent them a 20-foot section of the 10-pound test line she was using when she caught the fish. As of this writing, her bass isn’t certified as the new world record for the 12-pound line class in the women’s category—but it is pending.
Powell fished for two full days on O.H. Ivie before netting the pending record. Because the lake is so highly pressured, the bass aren’t exactly eager to take an artificial lure, she says, so her guide employed a Livescope real-time scanning sonar system to locate a school. “Dalton said, ‘Cast where I cast,’” Powell recalls. “He casts about 50 feet from the boat into a bunch of saltcedars, and I cast about 55 feet and slightly to the left of that. I was watching the live scope, and I said, ‘Dude, I think I got a follower.”
Powell watched through the screen as the fish nosed down on her soft plastic bait and then turned away. When she opened the bail of her spinning reel to let the lure fall back onto the lake bed, the big bass nosed down again and took it. “I felt two little ticks and then gave her the beans,” she says. “It was on.”
Each time she got the fish close to the boat, it did a nosedive and took off again. She says she was forced to continually adjust her drag throughout the fight. “Once we got her into the net, I went to take the hook out and saw that she was barely hooked,” says Powell, who caught a 10-plus pounder on a crankbait earlier in the day. “That was probably the most stressful fight I’ve ever had with a fish. I didn’t actually freak out after landing the 12-pounder. I kind of got calm. But later on, after we weighed and released her, I got physically sick from the adrenaline crash of catching two monstrous fish.”
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If certified as the new women’s 12-pound line class world record, Powell’s catch will best a 9-pound, 1-ounce largemouth caught by Sarah Elizabeth Harris in Lake Baccarac, Mexico in March 2021. The all-tackle world record for a largemouth bass is shared by two anglers. George Perry, fishing in Montgomery Lake in Georgia in 1932, caught a bass that weighed 22 pounds, 4 ounces. Manabu Kurita caught one the same weight in Lake Biwa in Japan in 2009.