On this day 85 years ago, George Washington Perry landed the biggest bass ever caught: A 22-pound 4-ounce largemouth bass, from Georgia’s Montgomery Lake. In the decades since that summer day in 1932, when he hauled in the all-tackle world record—which he entered into Field & Stream‘s big-fish contest later that year—bass anglers across the world have tried to top the trophy, which no doubt remains the Holy Grail of the fishing world. But even after eight decades, and with an estimated 10 million bass fishermen in the U.S., Perry’s accomplishment has been equaled but never surpassed. All that angling has, however, produced some impressive catches. Here’s a look at a dozen of the best: The 11 biggest largemouths ever caught with a rod and reel, as listed in the International Game Fishing Association record book.
The Biggest Bass Ever Caught
- Mackenzie Ruth Hickox, 15 pounds 12 ounces • May 8, 2006 • Spruce Creek, Daytona Beach, Florida
- Terry McAbee, 16 pounds 9 ounces • March 18, 1998 • Lake Isabella, California
- Larry Kurosaki, 16 pounds 12 ounces • February 26, 2009 • Castaic Lagoon, California
- Cody Pierce, 17 pounds • March 22, 2000 • Murray Reservoir, California
- Robert Crupi, 17 pounds 1 ounce • December 28, 1990 • Castaic Lake, California
- Dan Kadota, 19 pounds • January 8, 1989 • Castaic Lake, California
- Robert Crupi, 21 pounds • March 9, 1990 • Castaic Lake, California
- Raymond Easley, 21 pounds 3 ounces • March 4, 1980 • Oak View, California
- Robert Crupi, 22 pounds • March 12, 1991 • Castaic Lake, California
- Manabu Kurita, 22 pounds 4 ounces • July 2, 2009 • Lake Biwa, Japan
- George Washington Perry, 22 pounds 4 ounces • June 2, 1932 • Montgomery Lake, Georgia
The Biggest Bass Ever Caught Over 15 Pounds
11. Mackenzie Ruth Hickox, 15 pounds 12 ounces • May 8, 2006 • Spruce Creek, Daytona Beach, Florida
Mackenzie Hickox was only 11 years old when she set the female junior-angler record while fishing with her parents, her sister, and a friend from the shore of a man-made pond near her house. She used a Strobe Spinner to entice a strike, then measured and weighed the bass on a portable scale before releasing it.
10. Terry McAbee, 16 pounds 9 ounces • March 18, 1998 • Lake Isabella, California
Not much is known about McAbee’s top-10 catch, other than that he landed it after a 10-minute fight using a G. Loomis rod, a Daiwa reel, and a 6-inch artificial worm. The fish was weighed on a certified scale at a local supermarket, and it’s the men’s 6-pound-line-class record.
9. Larry Kurosaki, 16 pounds 12 ounces • February 26, 2009 • Castaic Lagoon, California
Larry Kurosaki used a custom-tied minnow fly on an 8-pound tippet to hook this big bass during a morning outing on Castaic Lagoon, a smaller body of water below the main reservoir of Castaic Lake, in California. It’s the biggest largemouth caught with fly tackle in the IGFA record book. Kurosaki fought the fish for five minutes before weighing it with a portable certified scale and releasing it.
8. Cody Pierce, 17 pounds • March 22, 2000 • Murray Reservoir, California
Cody Pierce wasn’t exactly playing hooky when he nailed this 17-pounder, but odds are that he was a little late to class after tying into the lunker. The 14-year-old had ridden his skateboard to Murray Reservoir near San Diego to squeeze in a little bass action before school; after catching some smaller fish, he decided he had time for one more cast before calling it a morning. He weighed the fish at a local ranger station before releasing it. Scoring the male junior-angler record is a good excuse for being tardy, in our book.
7. Robert Crupi, 17 pounds 1 ounce • December 28, 1990 • Castaic Lake, California
A monster largemouth busting a topwater lure is the stuff that fishing dreams—and magazine covers—are made of, but there are many ways to catch a trophy bass. Crupi landed his second entry on this top-11 list while working a crippled herring jig in 40 feet of water, and it took him some time to realize exactly what he had. He’d already caught several crappies and smallmouth bass when a big fish started peeling line off his reel. The fish stayed submerged for 15 minutes before surfacing 50 yards from his boat, and 27 years later the catch still stands as the men’s 4-pound-line-class record.
6. Dan Kadota, 19 pounds • January 8, 1989 • Castaic Lake, California
Another example of the varied methods and conditions under which bass fishing can be productive: Dan Kadota’s winter lunker, taken on Castaic Lake in 1989. Kadota braved the early-morning cold to work a live crayfish along the bottom, and he had the trophy in the boat five minutes after hookup. Kadota’s bass—the men’s 10-pound-line-class record—was an early harbinger of Castaic Lake’s potential as a trophy-bass hotspot; it was the first of five largemouth records set at the southern California lake between 1989 and 1992.
The Biggest Bass Ever Caught Over 20 Pounds
5. Robert Crupi, 21 pounds • March 9, 1990 • Castaic Lake, California
Robert Crupi started his string of remarkable bass catches with this 21-pounder that, at the time, was the third largest largemouth ever certified by IGFA. A regular at Castaic Lake since 1977, Crupi had fished the same spot for five consecutive days before hooking this whopper, which hit a live crayfish in about 40 feet of water. It was—and still is—the men’s 12-pound-line-class record.
4. Raymond Easley, 21 pounds 3 ounces • March 4, 1980 • Oak View, California
Raymond Easley was schooling less-experienced anglers on how to properly fish a live crawdad in deep water when this 21-pounder crushed his bait. If the how-to session made a deep impression on his students, it had an even more galvanizing effect on the wider bass world. The first largemouth certified at more than 20 pounds in almost 50 years, Easley’s catch—the men’s 8-pound-line-class record) was only a pound and an ounce shy of the world record. Suddenly, George Perry’s longstanding all-time mark seemed within reach.
The Biggest Bass Ever Caught Over 21 Pounds
3. Robert Crupi, 22 pounds • March 12, 1991 • Castaic Lake, California
Just a couple of months after boating a 17-pounder, and almost exactly a year after landing a 21-pounder, Robert Crupi became only the second man to haul in a largemouth bass weighing 22 pounds or more. Using a live crayfish for bait, Crupi reportedly needed only three minutes to boat the fish, and then raced to shore to weigh the potential world record at a local deli’s certified scale. He fell short of Perry’s all-time record by only 4 ounces, and would never come that close again. He caught the fish within the same 12-month period that he landed the fourth- and sixth-place largemouth records, which surely stands as one of the all-time great hot streaks in sports. Though this catch has since been bumped from second to third on the list, it remains the men’s 16-pound-line-class record.
1a. Manabu Kurita, 22 pounds 4 ounces • July 2, 2009 • Lake Biwa, Japan
Japanese angler Manabu Kurita shocked the fishing world in 2009 when he joined Crupi and Perry in the 22-pound club. Fishing on Lake Biwa, in central Japan, with a live bluegill, he caught the 22-pound 4.96-ounce largemouth that now shares the all-tackle record with Perry. IGFA recognized Kurita’s catch after supplementing its usual certification process with a polygraph test administered by Japanese authorities. Though the fish weighed .96 ounces more than Perry’s, IGFA regulations require that new world records weighing 25 pounds or less must weigh at least 2 ounces more than the standing record to claim the title—which is why the record remains a tie.
1b. George Washington Perry, 22 pounds 4 ounces • June 2, 1932 • Montgomery Lake, Georgia
The granddaddy of all bass records, George W. Perry’s 1932 all-tackle record turns 85 today, June 2. The 20-year-old farmer couldn’t have known, when he decided to let his fields dry out from recent rains and spend the day fishing instead, that his catch would become the most pursued world record in freshwater fishing. He no doubt couldn’t have foreseen how the fascination with breaking the record would help fuel a multibillion-dollar industry, either; Perry and his fishing partner that day, Jack Page, shared one rod and reel between them.
The Biggest Bass Ever Caught: Length Records
With the rise in popularity of kayak tournament bass fishing in recent years, which uses the lengths of bass to determine winners, we thought it would be fun to include a few of the world record bass based on overall length.
All-Tackle Length World Record
There’s actually a three-way tie for the longest bass ever caught (or at least recorded) in the All-Tackle category. Lance Jones, George Coniglio, and Lane J. Kinney have all registered a bass measuring 65cm with the IGFA. Jones and Kinney’s catches both came from the state of Florida and date back to 2018 and 2021 respectively, while Coniglio’s catch caught on May 13, 2015, in California is the longest-standing.
All-Tackle Length Fly World Record
On April 2, 2022, Jason Schall caught a bass measuring 55cm on the Ohoopee River in Georgia to take the lead in the All-Tackle Fly Length World Record category for largemouth bass. Jason and his wife Jennifer have amassed an astonishing number of world records between them, closing in on a hundred in a hurry. In addition to his All-Tackle Length Fly World Record, Jason currently holds another 25 IGFA records across 18 species and two countries.
All-Tackle Length Junior World Record
It’s worth noting that the All-Tackle Length Junior World Record for largemouth bass is currently vacant, meaning it’s still up for grabs! No one has registered a fish yet meeting the requirements for this category. “The record category is open for anglers up to age 16 and the fish must be measured on an official IGFA Measuring Device,” per IGFA Angler Recognition Coordinator Zack Bellapigna.
Biggest Bass Ever Caught: Frequently Asked Questions
How old is a 10-pound bass?
Studies have shown that bass grow about a pound per year. Thus a 10-pound bass is roughly 10 years old, on average. But a wide array of variables factor into the growth rate of a largemouth bass. Climate, the amount of forage, and even the availability of cover can affect how quickly bass pack on the pounds. Bass grow fastest in warm water, so the mild winters of the southern states and even down into Mexico boast better conditions for quicker growth. This means a 6- pound bass born and raised in the northern United States may very well be older than a 10-pound bass caught in southern Florida.
What’s the world record largemouth worth?
George Washington Perry’s 22- pound, 4- ounce world record bass caught in the summer of 1932 has held the top spot with the IGFA (International Game and Fish Association) for nearly a century now. With the Great Depression in full swing at the time, Perry was fishing for more than fun when he set the record. His magnificent catch fed his family of 6 for two days, and netted him $75 worth of sporting gear from Field & Stream’s big fish contest, which was happening at the time. At one point, there was a bounty of $8,000,000 offered by the Big Bass Record Club for the next world record largemouth. But that prize is no more, and the IGFA has removed itself from any affiliation with third parties offering incentives for record fish catches.
What’s the biggest bass ever caught in a tournament?
Taking into consideration that there are too many tournaments to know for certain which one boasts the biggest catch, let’s at least look at the two biggest bass tournament organizations to see where the records stand there.
The Bass Angler Sportsman Society (B.A.S.S.) hosts tournaments throughout the U.S. The record catch for a single bass caught in one of their tournaments belongs to Mark Tyler, who caught a 14-pound, 9-ounce bass on the California Delta during a Bassmaster competition in 1999.
Randy Howell holds the heavyweight record for Major League Fishing (MLF), hauling in a 12-pound, 14-ounce brute out of Bussey Brake Lake in Louisiana during a Bass Pro Tour event in February of 2022.