UPCOMING EVENT: Bass Fishing League - 2016 - Lake Okeechobee

California woman breaks Perry’s 71-year-old largemouth record. … Or does she?

Is this bass the largest ever caught? Leaha Trew of Santa Rosa, Calif., holds up her largemouth bass, which was caught in Spring Lake Aug. 24 and reportedly weighed 22 pounds, 8 ounces. This is the only photo taken of the fish.

Like the proverbial tree falling in the woods, here's a question: If an angler catches a world-record bass and nobody's around to see it, does it count?

That's the issue facing officials at the International Game Fish Association (IGFA) and National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame this winter. On Aug. 24, a woman named Leaha Trew of Santa Rosa, Calif., reportedly caught a largemouth bass weighing 22 pounds, 8 ounces out of Spring Lake, Calif.

If authorities decide that this fish tale is true, it would apparently herald the end of an era for George W. Perry, the legendary Georgia angler who caught a 22-pound, 4-ounce largemouth out of Montgomery Lake, Ga., on June 2, 1932, and has held the all-tackle world record ever since.

Of course, there are a few details to be worked out first. Like other celebrated bass caught in California in recent years, Trew's potential record has an Olympic track meet's worth of hurdles to overcome. Perry's record, which represents the epitome of the most sought-after fish in America, has stood for so long and been pursued by so many millions of anglers over the years that the burden of proof in trying to unseat it is enormous.

And that's where things get a little dicey for Trew. The biggest problem: She released the fish before anybody could examine it.

Trews' story

Trew, 45, landed the bass while fishing with her 21-year-old son, Javad. In a phone conversation with Javad Trew, here's what we've learned about the catch so far:

On Aug. 24, Leaha and Javad Trew were fishing from a 13-foot inflatable raft on Spring Lake, a 74-acre lake in California's Sonoma County near Santa Rosa. Working near a weedline in about 15 feet of water, Leaha Trew made a cast with a 7-inch Storm Wildeye Swim Bait in mossback pattern.

"I wasn't really paying attention to her," Javad Trew said. "She got hung up and, at first, she said it felt like a clump of weeds. But when she pulled back, her line just started screaming out of her reel. We were fishing from an anchored boat and that fish dragged my boat, anchor and all."

After about a 10-minute fight, Leaha Trew pulled the fish alongside the raft where her son was able to net it after several attempts. At one point while he was trying to work the net over its head, Javad Trew said the big bass smashed headfirst into the side of the boat. He feared the fish would break off.

"We didn't really realize how big it was," he said. "But when I put it in the bottom of the boat and saw the size of it, I said a lot of words I don't want to repeat."

Javad, who said he has been fishing recreationally for about four years, and Leaha Trew knew it was a special fish, so they paddled back to shore to weigh and measure it. (No gas-powered motors are allowed on Spring Lake.) Since they had no livewell and were concerned about the health of the fish, they kept it in the net and held it in the water over the raft's side as they paddled back in.

Once onshore, Leaha Trew weighed the fish using a Boga Grip handheld scale, which is certified for accuracy by the IGFA. The scale weighs in 8-ounce increments, and Trew's fish weighed in between 22 1/2 and 23 pounds. Additionally, the bass measured 29 inches in total length and 25 inches in girth. Witnessing the fish and its measurements were Leaha and Javad Trew plus a man named Charles Fleming, who was picnicking nearby. Javad Trew said they went to get Fleming, who is admittedly not a fisherman, when they brought the fish in so he could see it and observe its measurements.

"He kept going on and on about how he had no idea that fish could get that big in (Spring Lake)," Javad Trew said.

In addition to weighing and measuring it, Leaha and Javad Trew photographed the bass. Unfortunately, they were only able to take one snapshot. As Leaha Trew held the fish up, her son took the photo (shown above) using a disposable camera. After he took it, Javad Trew realized that it was the last shot on the roll.

So Leaha Trew released her 22 1/2-pound bass back into Spring Lake.

The one that got away?

The decision to release the fish might come back to haunt Trew, at least in terms of laying claim to the largemouth bass world record. She has applied for record consideration with both the Fishing Hall of Fame and the IGFA. Both organizations say that her application and the steps she took to measure the bass seem to be on the up-and-up, including using an IGFA-certified scale. The problem is that only three people saw the fish and none of them was a biologist or any other kind of wildlife-management personnel.

"I think these people are very legitimate," said Ted Dzialo, director of the Fishing Hall of Fame. "The issue is that the fish was not available for examination by a biologist, or a taxidermist, for that matter. It has to be examined internally to be an all-tackle record. In other words, the fish has to be killed for us to recognize it, which is unfortunate."

As far as her releasing the bass, Javad Trew said there really was no question about it at the time. He said that he and his mother practice catch-and-release exclusively. Spring Lake sits in a regional park, and the Trews were concerned about a park rule against removing "animals, dead or alive," which they saw posted on a sign. Plus, he said they didn't even realize that a 22 1/2-pound largemouth would qualify for a world record until he looked it up later that night.

However, it turns out that Spring Lake is not a catch-and-release waterway.

"I just found out last week that it's all right to keep fish from there," Javad Trew said. "I don't get all the (fishing) magazines or follow the tournament trails, so I didn't know if it was a world record; I thought maybe it could be a line-class record. Besides, she's still pretty proud that she released it. There's something about catching a big bass like that. You want to release it if it's healthy."

The Fishing Hall of Fame, however, isn't throwing the baby out with the bathwater. They decided, officially, to recognize Trew's fish - at 22 pounds, 8 ounces - as the 12-pound line class world record for largemouth bass. Also, they are unofficially acknowledging it as an all-tackle record while at the same time maintaining Perry's 22 pounds, 4 ounces as the official record.

"We made up our minds and that's what we're going to do with it," Dzialo said.

As of the first week in December, the IGFA was still considering Trew's record application, which she submitted in late September.

"Obviously, this is a very important record. The largemouth bass is one of the most sought-after records of all," said Doug Blodgett, records director at the IGFA, adding that close to a thousand records applications for numerous fish species come through the IGFA every year. "As far as the information that I've received, there's nothing stated so far that brings up a red flag. All of the rules of the application were fulfilled. Still, we're not going to rush into this. We're not going to make a decision without being 100-percent certain about it."

The main impasse at the IGFA regarding Trew's catch isn't the lack of physical evidence - the organization routinely awards records on released fish if the paperwork is in order and the story checks out with local officials - but the relative lack of visual proof. An official with the California Department of Fish and Game named William Cox identified Trew's bass and signed her application for the record based on the photograph and testimony of the three witnesses. That part of the application is by the book, Blodgett said, but the problem remains that just a single photograph of the fish exists.

"There's no picture of it next to a measuring device or anything else to compare it to," Blodgett said. "Because of that, we have to look at it in a little more detail."

"Yeah, we only got one photo. That's the sticky part with the IGFA," Javad Trew said. "I wish we would have taken a bunch more, but we didn't know what the hell we were doing at the time."

When he realized that he was out of film, Javad Trew said they debated driving to a store to buy another camera. But his mother "was really concerned about the fish," he said, so they ultimately decided to let it go and hoped the one shot came out all right.

"It's really embarrassing what happened with the camera," he admitted.

In terms of its IGFA record status, Trew's fish is still "pending" and is listed as such on the organization's Web site. Understanding the potential impact of its decision, Blodgett would not say whether the IGFA was leaning toward or away from certifying it as the new largemouth bass world record, but he did hint that a decision could be coming soon.

"Technically, is it a record-holder? Yes, but it's not officially recognized by us," Blodgett said. "Keep an eye on (IGFA's) Web site on a weekly basis. We will have a press release when (the decision) has been finalized."

What's in the water?

If Spring Lake, Calif., sounds familiar to record-class bass anglers, it is. In 1997, that was where Paul Duclos reportedly caught a 24-pound largemouth bass, which would have shattered Perry's record by almost 2 pounds. He weighed it on a bathroom scale, however, and only two other people saw the fish. Like Leaha Trew, Duclos released his fish before officials could examine it, so, while it made headlines, that fish never made the record books.

At least one Spring Lake largemouth has made the record books, though. Eight days after his mother caught her storied bass, Javad Trew caught an enormous bass of his own. On Sept. 1, he reeled in an 18-pound, 8-ounce largemouth on a 3/8-ounce jig at Spring Lake, which has since been certified as a record in the 4-pound line class by the Fishing Hall of Fame and is under consideration for the 4-pound line-class record at the IGFA.

Why are all these record-class bass apparently coming out of the little waterway in northern California? In the mid-1980s, the 74-acre lake was completely drained for hydrilla control. Then it was refilled and stocked with Florida-strain largemouth, which by the late `90s and early `00s would likely be at peak maturation age for monster bass. Plus, like many California waterways, Spring Lake is stocked with bite-sized trout on which bass feed.

"I'm telling you, they found a honey hole out there," Dzialo said.

Potential impact

In the town of Jacksonville, Ga., at the intersection of highways 441 and 117 not far from where Montgomery Lake used to be, there is a roadside marker commemorating George Perry's 22-pound, 4-ounce world-record bass. Part of its inscription reads:

"(Perry) received $75 worth of sporting equipment for his record catch. He was a modest man who never boasted of the record, which now has stood over 70 years. The next world record bass will be worth 8 million dollars, plus endorsements."

Another roadside marker commemorating Perry on Highway 117 reads, in part: "The longstanding record is one of the reasons that the largemouth bass was made Georgia's Official State Fish."

Whether Leaha Trew stands to make "8 million dollars, plus endorsements" remains to be seen. Indeed, the Fishing Hall of Fame's Dzialo said the most his organization offers for a record are a certificate and a little publicity.

"As far as the money, they've got to work that out for themselves," he said.

But Trew realizes the impact her catch would make on the fishing community and the legacy of George W. Perry if the powers that be decide it is, in fact, a record larger than Perry's. For that reason, she has shied away from speaking publicly about the fish until the IGFA hands down its ruling.

However, she did talk to FLW Outdoors recently.

"I'm just waiting because I'm being slammed," she said, admitting that she is a little taken aback by all the attention she has received, a lot of which has been negative.

About her bass, Trew said: "Was it a magic moment or what? It's the biggest one I've caught, but I've caught some big ones before and every time it's magical."

And whether or not the bass is ultimately given the world record, both of the Trews are hoping for the best, but they also just seem satisfied about the catch simply for its own sake.

"I caught a 22 1/2-pound bass and that's all I know," Leaha Trew said.

Said Javad Trew: "Yeah, I'm a little ticked off that she caught it, but I'm still really proud of her."

Tags: jeff-schroeder  article 

/tips/2016-07-23-1000-islands-day-3-midday-update

1000 Islands Day 3 Midday Update

READ MORE »

/tips/2016-07-22-1000-islands-midday-update-day-2

1000 Islands Midday Update Day 2

Day two of the Costa FLW Series Northern Division event presented by Mercury at 1000 Islands got started on a slightly different note this morning when FLW’s tournament directors declared Lake Ontario off limits due to hazardous conditions. The change threw a few of the top pros off their primary plans, but regardless the 137-boat field will be cut down to the top 10 after today, so adjustments need to be made in order to qualify to fish the weekend. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-07-19-flw-podcast-126-icast

FLW Podcast 126 - ICAST

READ MORE »

/tips/2016-07-14-2017-walmart-flw-tour-schedule

2017 Walmart FLW Tour Schedule

In what has become an annual tradition at FLW, the 2017 Walmart FLW Tour schedule was announced at a press conference and industry gathering held Thursday on the show floor at ICAST in Orlando, Fla. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-07-12-si-se-puede-yes-we-can

Si Se Puede ... Yes We Can

Mexico’s Lake Zimapan is different in many ways from the lakes to the north such as Florida’s Lake Okeechobee and California’s Clear Lake, but one element it has in common with those famous fisheries is big bass. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-07-11-5-rookie-lessons-learned

5 Rookie Lessons Learned

People have asked me what my first year on the Walmart FLW Tour was like. Well, it was like running headfirst into a hurricane for a few months. I came out the other side a little battered, bruised and smelling like fish. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-07-11-flw-podcast-125-scott-martin

FLW Podcast 125 - Scott Martin

READ MORE »

/tips/2016-07-08-review-lew-s-custom-speed-stick-lite

Review: Lew’s Custom Speed Stick Lite

Recently I had the opportunity to try one model in particular – the 7-foot, 4-inch Magnum Pitchin’ rod. After fishing with it several times, I’ve concluded that it performs as advertised, is sensitive and lightweight, and is well worth the money. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-07-08-reunited-and-it-feels-so-good

Reunited, and it Feels so Good

This year I really had a reunion with finesse fishing. Most of my better tournaments came from fishing some type of finesse presentation. Finesse tactics seemed to always give me a certain confidence about the day. While finesse tactics are nothing new to the game of bass fishing, this year I regained the confidence and joy of catching bass on smaller offerings. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-07-08-2016-icast-preview

2016 ICAST Preview

The doors to ICAST don’t open until next week, when everyone gets out on the showroom floor in Orlando, Fla., but there are already plenty of snippets of information available. FLW’s media crew will be there in full force to bring you coverage of the hottest new products, as well as the annual New Product Showcase awards. For now, take a gander at some of the early birds. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-07-07-flw-canada-kicks-off-at-tri-lakes

FLW Canada Kicks Off at Tri-Lakes

Among these Canadian all-stars was the eventual winning team of Chris Vandermeer of Peterborough and Jeff Slute of Millbrook. Capitalizing on a strong day one shallow-water smallmouth pattern, the duo took advantage of the slick-calm conditions using a silver-hued topwater popping plug to agitate the lake’s bronzebacks into attack. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-06-30-flw-tour-pro-cooksey-recovering-after-accident

FLW Tour Pro Cooksey Recovering After Accident

Walmart FLW Tour sophomore Dalton Cooksey of New Concord, Ky., is recovering at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Tennessee following a single-car accident that took place Wednesday afternoon. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-06-30-flw-podcast-124-jeremy-lawyer

FLW Podcast 124 - Jeremy Lawyer

READ MORE »

/tips/2016-06-29-stetson-blaylock-s-recipe-for-a-wacky-rig

Stetson Blaylock’s Recipe for a Wacky Rig

From March until the end of the fishing season I’m going to have a wacky rig on deck. It’s a really effective way to fish anytime the fishing is tough, or if the fish are up cruising banks. Anytime fish are about 5 feet deep or less, I can catch them on the wacky rig. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-06-28-morgan-claims-third-flw-tour-angler-of-the-year-title

Morgan Claims third FLW Tour Angler of the Year Title

MINNEAPOLIS – Livingston Lures pro Andy Morgan of Dayton, Tennessee, added to his incredible fishing resume by winning his third Walmart FLW Tour Angler of the Year title Saturday at the FLW Tour's final 2016 regular-season event on Lake Champlain.... READ MORE »

/tips/2016-06-24-three-things-by-dd-kentucky-lake

Three Things by DD: Kentucky Lake

Kentucky Lake did not go the way I intended. I was pumped and ready to rock out a top-20 finish. I had great expectations of myself, but nothing seemed to come together. Practice was dicey, but I thought for sure I could put something together to make the cut. That was until day one came, and the whole vibe of my day instantly went from eager to agitated. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-06-23-how-to-catch-smallmouths-with-hair-jigs

How to Catch Smallmouths with Hair Jigs

The “right” hair jig for smallmouths is a small 1/16- to 1/8-ounce marabou jig with a round or mushroom-shaped head. The jig is similar to marabou jigs used by crappie fishermen, but bass models will often have a larger, stronger hook and possibly a longer or thicker skirt. Naturally, anglers have their favorites, and there are subtle differences in jigs that make some better than others. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-06-22-two-exciting-events-to-look-forward-to

Two Exciting Events to Look Forward To

We are in the last stretch of the 2016 Walmart FLW Tour. Awaiting us is the Lake Champlain tournament in just a few days. A couple of things will be settled there: the pro field for the Forrest Wood Cup and the Angler of the Year. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-06-21-tagging-along-with-sprague-in-kentucky

Tagging Along with Sprague in Kentucky

Through the first four events of the 2016 Walmart FLW Tour season, Jeff Sprague finished inside the top 20 every time and challenged for the win at Beaver Lake. After stop No. 4 on Pickwick, Sprague took over the lead in the Angler of the Year race. This is the story of his first tournament as the AOY leader – stop No. 5 on Kentucky Lake. Currently, Sprague is preparing for the finale on Lake Champlain. He’s in second place in the AOY standings. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-06-19-waunakee-hs-wins-wi-title

Waunakee HS Wins WI Title

The Waunakee High School duo of Colin Steck and Nathan Lorenz brought a five-bass limit to the scale Sunday weighing 13 pounds, 3 ounces, to win the 2016 TBF/FLW High School Fishing Wisconsin State Championship on the Minocqua Chain of Lakes. The win earned the team trophies, the title of state champions and advanced the team to the High School Fishing Central Conference championship on the Ohio River in Lawrenceburg, Indiana, on September 23-24. READ MORE »