World Record Follies, Frauds and Hoaxes (Part 3)

About the author

Ken Duke

Ken Duke

Ken Duke is the Managing Editor of Fishing Tackle Retailer and the author of two books on bass fishing. Follow him on Twitter @thinkbass.

The final installment of our world record wannabes is right here. Enjoy!

The Trew-th Shall Set You Free

If you read the last installment of this series, you may remember Paul Duclos' 24-pound largemouth from little Spring Lake in California in 1997. Well, six years later on the very same body of water, a 45-year-old woman named Leah Trew caught a bass she claimed weighed 22 pounds, 8 ounces.

A new world record, right?

Of course not! By now you know better. But for a while it seemed the only people who believed her story were the ones in charge of the record books.

She weighed the fish on Boga Grip scales which were certified for accuracy, took one photograph of the bass, and then she released it. The fish allegedly measured 29 inches in length and 25 inches in girth. No biologist or park ranger saw it. In fact, the only reported witnesses were a man on a family picnic (where was the rest of his family?) and Trew’s son, Javad. Better yet, the first witness was believed to be a friend of Javad.

There were other issues, too. Trew ignored repeated calls from the media and would not answer questions about her catch. The fish’s dimensions (which were controversial to begin with and unsubstantiated by photographs that might give the bass some scale or measurement reference) were smaller than the current world record, the California state record and a 22.01-pound fish claimed by record hunting legend Bob Crupi in 1991.

And then there’s Trew’s son. Exactly a week after his mom’s catch he would claim an 18-8 from Spring Lake and apply for a line class record with both the IGFA and the National Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame. Many assumed mother and son were using the same fish.

Ultimately, prudent heads prevailed … at least at IGFA. It issued a news release rejecting Trew’s application, noting that her catch “was not documented to IGFA’s satisfaction.” Rob Kramer, president of IGFA was quoted as saying, “in this case there were too many unverifiable factors, so we had no other choice.”

The National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame was less skeptical, and, though it never listed Trew as the all-tackle record holder, for a while it did call her the “unofficial” record holder and gave her the line class record for 12-pound-test.

Today, Leah Trew holds no titles with any major record keeping organization. Javad, on the other hand, holds numerous records with the Hall (Really?) but — despite numerous applications — none with IGFA.

Fair or  Foul!

From the time Dave Zimmerlee caught a 20-15 from California’s Lake Miramar in 1973 — the first 20-pounder since Perry’s — the bass fishing world has been holding its collective breath and waiting for the Golden State to break fishing’s most coveted record.

On March 20, 2006, it looked like a done deal. That’s when Mac Weakley caught a 25 pound, 1 ounce monster from tiny Lake Dixon. If not for one critical fact, the catch would have obliterated Perry’s mark and closed the door on record hunting for decades to come.

Weakley had foul-hooked the giant.

He was sight fishing with a white jig. When the fish got near enough to the jig to obstruct his view of it and perhaps even bump the line, he set the hook … right into her side, just below the dorsal fin.

Weakley released the fish after weighing it and taking a few photos and videos. He considered applying for record status with IGFA, but decided against it. California does not offer state record status to fish that have been foul-hooked, and IGFA requires compliance with all state fishing regulations.

The real story regarding Weakley’s fish was that it was likely the very same bass caught by Mike Long in 2001 (when she weighed 20-12) and Jed Dickerson in 2003 (when she weighed 21-11). A mark on her lower right gill plate made her easily identifiable and earned her the nickname “Dottie.”

In 2008, a park ranger found a much lighter Dottie floating dead on Lake Dixon. At the time, she weighed about 19 pounds. With her passing went hopes of an even larger bass for the record books.

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