By the end of 2009, bass went from 10 percent below target weight to 10 percent over target weight. The following year, the first 5-pounder was caught from La Perla. Three years later, the first double-digit fish was caught. And in 2012, an 11-pounder was caught.
“Although the growth rates were crazy after the prawn introduction, I was disappointed in my catch rates. There were a lot of fish in my lake, but man, they were tough to catch. So, I went against the recommendation of John and had him add F1 hybrid largemouth to La Perla. What I wouldn’t do to go back in time and reverse that decision!” Schwarz admits.
Once a hybridized bass is introduced, the pure Florida genetics will eventually be bred out of the bass population. This is a major issue for the world record project, because it is not likely that a hybrid largemouth can ever grow to enormous proportions like the pure Florida strain.
That said, a shocking study in December 2013 resulted in seven bass over 10 pounds, including an 11-8 and a ShareLunker-worthy 13-15. This matriarch of La Perla has been named “Pearl,” and could be Texas’ new state record in two years.
That said, Schwarz believes that stocking hybrid bass was an insurmountable mistake to realize his fevered passion to build the world’s biggest bass. So, he decided to dig another lake with one very singular purpose: Bring the largemouth world record to the Lone Star State.
“I decided to build Jalisco Lake to fix all the mistakes I made with La Perla,” Schwarz says. “I think I will be able to grow a Texas state record bass [an 18.18 from Lake Fork currently holds the top spot] in La Perla, but I’ll grow the world record in Jalisco.”
“Although I disagree a little bit with Gary on La Perla, I do believe the plan for Jalisco offers 10 times the opportunity to grow not just one 23-pound bass, but to get an entire year class of fish to that size,” Jones states plainly. (Jones believes there are plenty of pure Floridas in La Perla for that lake to produce a world record.)
So, why will Jalisco be better?
“First off, we have a small portion of the lake already filled with water and stocked with shad, bluegill, minnows and shiners. They have had two years to become established before the lake is filled. Secondly, Gary has created much larger forage ponds for the prawns, which will equal almost 40 percent of the lake’s capacity. Plus, we are stocking a very specialized strain of pure Floridas that have the genetics to grow really big, really fast,” Jones says.
Like he did with La Perla, Schwarz has designed every inch of the lake to be optimum for bass but also offer a challenging and unique experience for bass anglers.
“With some guidance from Alton Jones [see sidebar] and building on my experience from designing La Perla, we have created an absolute bass haven,” Schwarz says.
Looking at the miles of dirt work, it’s hard to disagree. Long points of boulders, deep rockpiles, big and small islands, humps, fingers, long canals and perfectly positioned ridges have all been sculpted into the personality of Jalisco. And to add even more to the efficiency of the intense forage base that will feed the Jalisco bass, Schwarz is adding at least 30 feeders around the lake to keep the sunfish and shad fat and healthy.
Plans are to fill Jalisco this year. Schwarz anticipates the lake will be around 60 acres at full pool.
“It’s going to be exciting watching this project unfold,” Schwarz declares. “Beyond growing a world record, I think we have the chance to discover the true potential of largemouth here. How big can they really get? I want to create the best bass fishing destination in the world. Between La Perla and Jalisco, I think we will be there.”
So what is Jones’ opinion of Schwarz’s goals?
“I believe 100 percent that the next world record will come from private waters,” says the Lochow Ranch Lake Management owner. “To my knowledge, nobody has a lake with the potential of either La Perla or Jalisco. And Gary’s passion to manage these lakes grows every year, and I have never, ever seen this happen with a lake owner.”
Some critics will downplay this project as Texas talk: all hat, no cattle. But don’t be so quick to judge.
“Deer biologists told me I couldn’t grow giant whitetails, but I did. Fisheries biologists said my bass food plots with prawns wouldn’t work, but they do. Can Pearl become a state record? Can Jalisco grow the world record? I say absolutely. And I will continue to push the envelope of bass management until these questions are answered.”