An unbreakable world record

On the eve of establishing a new world record for largemouth, I sense a certain uneasiness—perhaps some regret--over the impending fall of a mark that has stood since June of 1932.

Even those who can’t believe the George Perry tale or decry the fact the U.S. Postal Service has had accurate scales back into the 1800’s, you must understand that Perry’s fish is the standard. However, ever since several of California’s rearing ponds began regularly producing 20 pounders, the question hasn’t been if but rather when Perry’s name will be erased from the book.

Which is perhaps why many people are not comfortable with this impending record- setting. Mac Weakley, whose incident of snagging, recording and then publicizing his “good deed” of releasing the fish, puts him on a different plane than Perry. The Carlsbad weekender has been around Lake Dixon for years, but finally figured out his access to the world’s biggest bass might have some added financial benefits—not to mention some accrued notoriety.

But in fact, this guy is the Michelle Wie of bass fishing. Just like the skinny teenage golfer, he’s done an awful lot to call attention to himself without actually doing anything of historic import. In the World Record chase, Weakley has lived up to his name, having shown nothing more than “warning track” power as he moves surreptitiously around the fringes of respectability.

But let’s not put the entire onus on Weakley or any of his other similarly minded crew.

I read one naïve post on a local message board wondering, wide-eyed, “What if you caught that fish in a tournament?” I wanted to throttle that greenie and let him know there are no 25 pounders to be caught in tournaments. Waters like Dixon, Poway, Mission Viejo, and others of that ilk aren’t hosting any tournaments or in the case of Mission Viejo, don’t even feature public access.

There is nothing conventional about these waters and there will be nothing conventional about a world record that one of them is likely to produce. True, other freshwater world records have been established in private ponds in isolated locations in the past, but bass fishing is far more visible being the realm of hee-haw fishing shows, tournament hoopla and Bass Center.

And though foot-long swimbaits are becoming acceptable as big bass lures, (having replaced live crawdads as the once worrisome record-breaking bait), today the sport’s networking of spies, gate-dodging strategies and jealousies the size of a Ford Explorer have put a stain on the world record quest.

Yet even the perpetrators are obtuse on the subject. I read where Weakley had stated, in effect, that we now know there are world record bass swimming in the lake. Egads.

Most of us who follow bass fishing, have modest eye-sight, or enjoy at least a couple of grams of horse sense, wouldn’t have had to snag one to know it existed. (Nice work, Michelle. Why don’t you just win one and we’ll take you seriously.)

Anyway, I’m not really against someone setting a new world record. George Perry was never interviewed on “How to fish a Pikie Minnow like the pros.” And I’m sure not going to do a story on “How to catch a world record bass,” regardless of who gets credit. That’s especially so if the fish goes 25 pounds, because that’s an unbreakable record.

Now, will the record largemouth be worth a million dollars as Weakley so desperately hopes? I don’t know. But then, I didn’t think Fifty Cent could sell more copies of a CD than Lennon & McCartney.

Some people will buy anything.