Years before official record books became the goal posts for players in the quest for big, make that bigger, fish, Florida angler Frederick Friebel caught what was then considered the largest largemouth bass ever, a 20-plus pound hog.
That’s a lot of bass and Fritz, as his sun-loving neighbors called him, was “The Man” for a long time.
According to what this writer could gather from the Internet, the lazy man’s library, Fritz, and yes, we are now on a first name basis, claimed his prize in 1923.
Then along came George Perry, an avid Georgia bass chaser, a businessman who obviously worked simply to support his habit, who till this very day, can be considered the real “Top Man” of bass fishing.
When Perry plopped his 1932 catch on the scale, twisting the indicator to an unheard of 22 pound, 4-ounce mark, he claimed his spot in sport fishing history as one lucky fisherman, holder of the world record largemouth bass.
But that was then and this is now. Perry, who died in an airplane crash 1974, caught his monster bass in a simpler time and according to written accounts of his life, never garnished much financial gain from his hook and line success
In the years after his record setting catch, Perry’s name, fame, and undeniable fish catching skill was the meat of countless articles and magazine features, most beginning with the headline, “Will Perry’s Record Ever Be Broken”?
And what about the now part?
Indeed, bass and money are words that go together. Sure, walleyes are often the focus of tournaments ending in cash and prizes, crappie too, in a lesser sense, but when it comes to the real deal, the fishes that make fishermen money, it is bass, bass, and more bass.
Today’s highly visible pro-bass anglers who fish for big dollars are marketing icons much like NASCAR drivers.
Poor George Parry should have waited a few decades to be born. Just a few years ago, an angler in Japan caught a bass that is now recognized as a co-world champion with Perry’s big fish.
The fish, just fractions of an ounce heavier than Perry’s, is not the two-ounce difference required by world record keepers to claim top honors.
In the U.S. the chase for really big and even bigger largemouth bass centers on the southern and far eastern states, where fish feed year-around, a fact that allows unchecked growth.
In places like Ohio, where winter weather, which equates to cold water and little sunlight, claims half of the year, bass and other game fish do their best to survive, let alone grow.
It is estimated by some biologists that a largemouth bass in the right climate could live between 15 and 20 years and might reach 25 or more pounds.
Ohio’s official record book shows a 13-pound, 13-ounce largemouth at the top of the heap, a fish caught May 26, 1976 by Roy Landsberger.
Notice that Landsberger’s record fish was caught in the spring when most record fish are taken. Why?
Because for the most part, record fish are females full of eggs yet to be spawned.
Will a bigger Ohio bass be caught and registered as a new record fish?
Yes, just as sure as day follows night. The only question is when.
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