World record follies, frauds and hoaxes

Like your world records on the shady side? Then you might enjoy a few more of the most notable "records" we've seen.

Mystery of the Nile

Do you pack a rod and reel with you when you vacation? If you’re like a lot of anglers, you try to schedule your vacations near great bass fishing destinations like Orlando, Fla., Birmingham, Ala., or Cairo, Egypt.

Well, according to the tabloid Weekly World News, Fred Crellon, an insurance salesman from Atlanta, Ga., was ready for any fishing opportunities when his tourist group went to visit the Great Pyramid at Cheops.

“And while everybody else was gawking at the pyramid, I sneaked down to the bank of a little lake that formed when the Nile flooded a few weeks earlier,” Crellon was quoted as saying. “I had a plastic worm on the end of the line and flicked it out about 35 yards. [That's a pretty healthy "flick," Fred!] As God as my witness, the lure had not even hit the water when that bass came up like a rocket.”

“That bass,” which Crellon said “fought like nobody’s business,” weighed 24 pounds, 8 ounces and cost the angler $75 — the fine for fishing without a license.

Although the wildlife officer who ticketed Crellon was there to witness the catch (he also forced him to release the fish) and a British tourist snapped a photo of the leaping largemouth, no other images of the catch exist, and Crellon’s application for world record status apparently never made it to the IGFA.

April Fools!

Here at B.A.S.S. we take pride in staying on the leading edge of all things bass fishing, but it was Sporting Classics that broke the story of Roy “Peg” Greer in their March/April 1997 issue. According to the article, the one-legged 68-year-old South Carolinian caught a 22-pound, 7-ounce largemouth from Walker’s Slough in the Palmetto State on a homemade crankbait that he cast with a Zebco 33 spincast reel.

As the story goes, Greer walked right into the offices of Sporting Classics to show off the fish and there learned he might make some money on a new world record. According to the article, Greer’s nephew — who had carved and painted the lure — was the first to cash in, selling the rights to the bait to Norman Lures for a tidy $25,000. It was to be catalog number 419-7, but another way of looking at the number would be 4/1/97 — April Fool’s Day, 1997.

Though the magazine story never actually lets readers off the hook by telling them it was a joke, there was at least one other clue that Sporting Classics was having a laugh. If you rearrange the letters in Roy “Peg” Greer, you get “G-e-o-r-g-e P-e-r-r-y," the lone record holder at the time.

My Kingdom for a Scale  

Unlike “Peg,” Paul Duclos had both of his legs. What he lacked was a scale. So when he cast a Castaic Trout swimbait into 74-acre Spring Lake (Calif.) in March of 1997 and pulled out a mammoth bass, he had a problem. How do you find out what a bass weighs if you don’t have a scale and aren’t willing to keep the fish out of the water long enough to get to one?

Duclos’ first effort was to call a nearby tackle shop and ask the owner to bring a certified scale down to the water. No luck. Then he called his wife and asked her to bring the couple’s bathroom scale to the lake.

When she arrived and set the scale on the dock, Duclos stepped aboard. One hundred and eighty pounds. Next, he lifted the fish out of the water and stepped on the scale again.

This time it read 204 pounds — a 24-pound difference!

The weighing was witnessed by Duclos’ wife and a Coast Guard commander who was also on the water that day. Several photos were taken.

At first, reports of the fish were confused and confusing. Did Duclos know that the existing world record was 22 pounds, 4 ounces? (Yes, he did.) What were the fish’s measurements? (Wild reports said it had a 39-inch girth.) Was the fish a cross between a Florida largemouth and the northern strain?

We’ll never know the answers to some of these questions because Duclos released the bass right after he weighed it.

The speculation started a feeding frenzy among the media and record hunters. Duclos was accused of everything from using a mounted bass in the photos to stuffing the fish with lead to fishing with live trout (illegal in California). He and his wife were harassed by disbelieving anglers for months after the catch.

“I’m happy I let the fish go,” Duclos said in the June/July 1997 issue of Outdoor Life. “If I had kept it, my life would have been a living hell.”

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