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True Story of the World Record bass

Lost and Found: True Story of George Perry's World Record Bass

We discovered this article while researching archived articles for the upcoming 75th Anniversary of Texas Parks and Wildlife magazine.The text of this article was printed in Texas Game and Fish magazine in September 1953. (The name of the magazine was changed circa 1963.)

Article layout photo September 1953 issue

Joe Stearns of Georgia Game and Fish met and interviewed George Perry whose 22 lb. 4 oz. largemouth is still the world record bass (officially it's in a tie with a bass caught in Japan by Manabu Kurita). The meeting and interview occurred some twenty years after the record bass was caught. Even though some of the information has been retold before, this is probably one of the most definitive tales we will ever find.

Below is a screen shot of the article as printed in the magazine. The text has been extracted and reposted below for easier reading. Note also the photos of Perry with other fish catches.

Article layout photo

the story of George Perry's World record bass:

IN THE newspaper business, this might be called a scoop—in fact a scooper-dooper. It is the first time the story of George Perry and his world’s champion bass has been told since 1932 when the 22 pound 4 ounce lunker was lifted out of Lake Montgomery. It won’t be the last time you read of it. 

The Georgia Game and Fish Commission in the past, has been swamped with letters asking, “Who is George Perry? Where is Montgomery Lake?”  

We didn’t have these answers. It was so embarrassing that we went to special and extensive efforts to locate the man and lake.  

We had an assortment of reports. We heard George Perry was dead. We heard he was a trapper in Canada, a fruit grower in California, a coal miner and a guide for tourists in Mexico.  

The information we received on Montgomery Lake was far-fetched and amusing. The lake was reported to be in every section of the state. One man insisted Montgomery Lake was an acre and a half pond in South Georgia. There isn’t enough oxygen in a lake that size for a 22 pound bass and in a lake that small, it probably would have died of thirst.  

After running up one dead end street of misinformation after another, I was prepared to expose the whole thing as a hoax, a fraud and some fancy juggling of the truth and facts. Then I ran into George Perry. It was on a boat dock in Brunswick. The man was up to his elbows in a motor. I had met the fellow before but possessing the world’s greatest sieve for mental retention of names, I used the short cut of “Cap’n.”  

I began to tell “Cap’n” of this fantastic, mysterious guy who caught the world’s record bass in 1932 and then vanished from the face of the earth. I told of my plans to expose this fake in the next magazine.  

The fellow squared his jaw at me and lifted his hands away from the greasy motor, “Wouldn’t do that if I were you,” he said. “Why,” I shot back. “Because,” the Captain grinned, “I am George Perry and I caught that bass.” There was a full minute of silence as firecrackers exploded in my head and my tongue flip-flopped against the roof of my mouth.  

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When I could speak again, I bombarded George with questions. For answers, we went to his home where he came up with an outdoor magazine, date line, 1932. I flipped through the faded, slightly yellow pages and there it was.  

George rolled back his fishing history pages and for the first time began to tell the story of his title fight with the world’s biggest largemouth bass. He was a pink checked youngster living on a farm near McRae. With cotton selling at about 5c a pound, it was a back-breaking job to provide the large Perry family with the necessities of life.  

Odd jobs and errands brought in a bit of extra money which was deposited in an old tobacco can. Finally George saved enough to buy a casting rod and one lure, a Creek Chub fantail shiner. He teamed up immediately with J. E. Page of McRae and early the next morning the pair left for Montgomery Lake on their history making fishing trip.  

Here for the first time, is the correct information on the fabulous Montgomery Lake. It comes out of the Ocmulgee River about 5 miles South of Jacksonville, Georgia, and 15 miles west of Lumber City. It is about one mile long and 400 yards across at the widest point.  

The day they selected, June 2, 1932, went against all rules and signs. The sun, moon and barometer charts said no. Angry rain clouds were in the sky. As the hours rolled by absolutely nothing happened. They fished in shifts, finally gave up, and headed in.  

As they neared shore, George half-heartedly flipped his one and only lure out for a last cast. A bass gobbled it up but almost immediately turned loose. It was the shot in the arm the pair needed. They decided to continue until at least one fish was caught. They refused to be “skunked.”   

At 4 o’clock the discouraged pair again headed in. On the way, they agreed to check up on a ripple by an old cypress log. George sent his precious lure sailing through the air to drop just inches away from the log. George lifted the rod tip to give the lure a convulsive jerk and then it happened. It was as if somebody had fired a mortar shell from under water. Instantly, 50 yards of the 24--pound test black-o-reno line whirled off the reel as George’s heart beat a staccato rhythm against his ribs.  

For ten minutes it was give line and take line. It was a sore thumb that tried to brake the powerful dashes that time and again took all but a few feet of the line off the reel. One more lunge would have ended the fight a half dozen times.  

When George reeled his record smashing fish up to the boat for their first look, both men began to yell at once. The bass roared to the bottom looking for a log to tangle up the line and gain freedom.  

Again George brought the bass to the boat. In a last powerful surge, the monster cut through the water headed for an old tree top. George halted the drive with the bass just a couple of feet away from trouble. The old cannibal had shot his last bolt of lightning and came in as limp as an intoxicated jelly fish. Moments later it rested in the boat flopping its huge tail against the bottom like a small boy beating a big drum.  

Guess what George did with his champion bass. He ate it! The family had fish for three days. The crowd that gathered around him in McRae had to drag him before a notary public to establish a record of this catch. After being out of water for several hours, the bass still weighed 22 pounds and 4 ounces. It was 32 1/2 inches long and 28 1/2 inches around. Observers said you could slip a small outboard motor in its extended mouth.

Since that great June day in 1932 George’s bass record has never been seriously threatened.

“Suppose,” I asked George, “somebody catches a bass that breaks your record?”  

“That’s the day,” George snapped, “when I’ll get back to some serious fresh water fishing.”

That is the true story of how the world’s record bass was caught in Georgia and it couldn’t have happened to a nicer fellow. —Georgia Game and Fish.

 

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