Japan's Kurita ties world record bass

DANIA BEACH, Fla. — The most sought after record in all of fishing has been broken ... almost. Technically, Manabu Kurita's 22-pound, 4.97-ounce largemouth bass from Japan's Lake Biwa is now tied with a bass nearly 1 ounce lighter caught more than 77 years ago in rural Georgia.

The International Game Fish Association has officially certified and approved Kurita's application for record status a little more than six months after the catch. IGFA's regulations require that a record fish weighing less than 25 pounds be surpassed by two ounces or more.

On July 2, 2009, the angling world was stunned to learn of Kurita's catch. Few realized that Japan could produce such large bass, and experts universally considered California to be the most likely location for a new record.

In establishing the new record, IGFA representatives worked closely with their sister organization, the Japanese Game Fish Association, to examine Kurita's application and investigate allegations that the fish was caught in an off-limits area. (It was not.) More recently, IGFA coordinated a polygraph examination of the angler regarding the circumstances of his catch. Kurita passed.

"It was an extremely clean and thorough application," said Jason Schratwieser, conservation director of IGFA. "We simply wanted to do our due diligence. A great many anglers are interested in this record. It's the Holy Grail of freshwater fishing."

The largemouth bass is one of the world's most widely distributed freshwater fish. Though native only to the eastern United States, it has been transplanted to every state except Alaska as well as to parts of Central and South America, Europe, Asia and Africa.

The previous record largemouth was caught by George W. Perry from Montgomery Lake in Georgia in 1932. At more than 77 years, it was one of the longest standing records in the IGFA books. Many experts speculate that a record largemouth will be worth more than $1 million in endorsements and appearance fees to the angler fortunate enough to catch it.