June 6, 2014 Share

Another World Record Hoax?

Originally Published on Apr 6, 2012 “From the Dock” NBC Sports

Spring means fish stories and I for love to hear about the monsters friends and other are catching. The best stories I’ve heard of late are gems, too, including one of a 2.9-pound yellow perch from Minnesota, a 14-pound walleye (the landing of which was video-taped!) from Tobin lake in Saskatchewan and giant smallmouth from Kentucky that was supposedly shocked up by members of the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources while sampling Laurel River Lake in the eastern part of the state.

Weight? An incredible 12 pounds plus!

Was this another world record hoax?

As many of you already know, the current world record smallmouth was another Kentucky fish. Back on July 8 of 1955, David Hayes hooked an 11-pound, 15-ounce monster wild trolling a pearl Bomber on the Kentucky side of sprawling Dale Hollow Lake. The validity of the catch was questioned and for a period both the Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame and the International Gamefish Association dropped it as their all-tackle world record bass (it has since been reinstated by both organizations). So a 12-pound smallmouth would, at a minimum, tie the existing world record and break if the fish weighed just an ounce over 12.

After years of sifting through internet various claims of world record this or world record that, I have become a bit of a cynic when it comes to reports like these unless they come from an official source like a press release from a fish and game department.

In this case, the story was broke by a Tennessee media outlet, not the state of Kentucky, so my spider sense was on high alert from the start. The story did include a photo of the fish and for it surmising the bass could weigh 12 pounds was credible. The bass was also held by a women wearing a jacket emblazoned with Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife logos, so that added more credibility. Whats-more, Laurel River Lake is known for producing some huge smallmouth since being stocked with roughly 370,000 smallmouth from Dale Hollow back in the 1980s, including an 8.46-pound fish in May of 1998, so for this 5,830-acre lake to produce a true freak is not out of the question.

However, according to a piece by the World Fishing Network, the southeastern fisheries district biologist for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, John Williams, reported the fish was actually landed in a gillnet set last November to sample walleyes and since black bass were not the focus of the the fish in the photo was not weighed before being returned to the water. Further, those in the boat that saw the actual fish believed it weighed somewhere between 6 and 8 pounds.—Steve



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