Tuesday, June 3, 2008

A Georgia Record Still Holds

Seventy-six years ago yesterday, a nineteen-year-old Georgia farm boy named George Washington Perry landed a 22 pound, 4 ounce largemouth bass. He caught it in Montgomery Lake, located in middle Georgia. Perry’s bass still holds the record for the biggest largemouth bass ever caught. Ever. Anywhere.

This likely does not seem like such a big deal to non-fisherpersons. Bibliophiles might wish to think back to Ahab’s obsession with Moby Dick, to get some idea of just how important a thing it is to some people, however.

Perry caught his fish from a boat that he had made by hand, from some seventy-five cents worth of material. The rod and reel that he was using cost about two dollars. It would be difficult to count the millions—millions—of dollars that have been spent since then, trying to best Perry’s record. Or the millions offered to the angler who finally does it.

In addition to the dollars involved—and the record’s longevity—are the stories. The myths and legends surrounding the quest to break Perry’s record are many. And some of the “mysteries” surrounding the Perry bass are just as interesting. For example, Jack Page, Perry’s fishing partner on the day that he caught his record bass, is lost to history.

It was only in the past few years that a photograph of the famous bass turned up. A story about the photo by Bill Baab appeared in Bassmaster Magazine in 2006 and was featured on ESPN.com. The full story can be read at the link below:


I recently spoke with George L. “Dazy” Perry, son of the late George Washington Perry. A retired Delta pilot now living up in the mountains of north Georgia, Dazy obviously likes talking about his dad, and does so with obvious fondness. He spoke of the many “side” stories related to his late father and the famous bass. He said that there was a lot of nonsense that had been written. About the biggest thing missing, he seemed to think, was the lack of what people really know or remember about his late father.

“All they know about is the fish. And there was just so much more about him.” says Dazy.

It would be difficult to asses just how much paper and ink has been used on the Perry Bass. I’ve suggested it before, but check out Sowbelly by Monte Burke, for more about Perry’s bass, and about George Washington Perry. I’m looking forward to full story, someday.

The honest, enthusiastic, unrestrained, wholehearted way that a largemouth wallops a surface lure has endeared him forever to my heart. Nothing that the smallmouth does can compare with the announced strike of his big-mouthed cousin.

John Alden Knight
Black Bass, 1949

Noah smiled. He knew the trick. It was a way of making the fisherman think that the catch was at hand, making him relax, and when the grip on the rod was made loose, the fish would yank it into the water.

Terry Kay
The Valley of Light, 2003

You can’t say enough about fishing. Though the sport of kings, it’s just what the deadbeat ordered.

Thomas McGuane
In Silent Seasons, 1978

The largemouth bass is the official State Fish of Georgia.


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