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“The story of the world record largemouth bass catch has a wonderful ‘everyman’ quality to it – making it easy for people to identify with George W. Perry,” says WRD Director Dan Forster. “It also presents our state with a great opportunity to encourage people to come and fish as it is the home of this great historic catch.”
The story behind the fish is almost as good as the longevity of the record – and can be told by almost any bass angler. Following the death of his father, 20 year-old George Washington Perry became the main provider for his family. On a day that proved too wet to work in the fields, he decided to go fishing in an effort to put some meat on the table that evening. He and a friend, Jack Page, went to local Montgomery Lake, an oxbow lake formed by the Ocmulgee River that was located about 20 miles from the family farm. They had little fishing equipment between them, a homemade boat made from $0.75 worth of lumber, and they simply hoped to pull out a string of fish that would feed them all. As fate would have it, they caught the biggest fish in the pond.
Knowing they had a monster of a catch, they took the fish into town (Helena) to show it off. A friend told Perry about a big fish contest that Field and Stream was holding and urged him to enter the fish. So, following the contest rules, he had it weighed on a certified scale that was located at the local post office. Perry entered the fish and it won the contest and netted him $75 worth of prizes, including a new rod and reel. It was declared the world record two years later. What happened to the legendary fish? Just like he planned, he took it home to his family and it provided a grand meal. This fish has managed to remain the world record, despite many, many attempts to top it.
“I think this ceremony is timely given the extreme national interest George W. Perry’s fish has generated over the years. Even the rain on the day of the ceremony was okay. The reason George was able to go fishing that day is because it rained and the fields were too wet to plow! Wonder what the story would be if the weather had stayed fair,” says retired Augusta Chronicle Outdoors Editor and Perry historian Bill Baab.
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