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Freshwater fishing’s “Holy Grail” now has dual holders

After nearly six months of waiting, Japan’s Manabu Kurita is taking his place alongside Georgia angler George Perry in the International Game Fish Association’s (IGFA) World Record Games Fishes book as dual holder of the All-Tackle record for largemouth bass with a fish weighing 22 lbs. 4 oz.

On Jan. 8, the IGFA approved Kurita’s application for the fish caught from Japan’s largest lake on July 2, 2009. The largemouth bass was caught from Lake Biwa, which is an ancient reservoir located northeast of Kyoto in Japan. Kurita, 32, of Aichi, Japan, was using a Deps Sidewinder rod and a Shimano Antares DC7LV reel loaded with 25 lb. Toray line when he pitched his bait – a live bluegill – next to a bridge piling.

It was Kurita’s first cast to the piling where he had seen a big bass swimming. He only twitched the bait a couple of times before he got bit. After a short, 3-minute fight, the fish was in the boat. Using certified scales, his fish weighed in at 22 lbs., 4 oz. When measured, the fish had a fork length of 27.2 inches and a girth of 26.7 inches.

IGFA rules for fish caught outside the U.S. allows anglers 90 days to submit their applications from the date of their catch. The documentation was received through the IGFA’s sister association the Japan Game Fish Association (JGFA). IGFA conservation director Jason Schratwieser said Kurita’s application was meticulously documented with the necessary photos and video.

Kurita’s fish ties the current record held for over 77 years by Perry who caught his bass on Georgia’s Montgomery Lake, June 2, 1932, near Jacksonville, Georgia. Almost immediately after Kurita’s catch, rumors began to circulate that he may have caught his fish in a “no-fishing zone.” The IGFA immediately corresponded with the JGFA and Kurita, gathering information on the legality of fishing where Kurita caught his bass.

Official word came back that the location was not a no-fishing zone, but an area where anchoring or stopping was prohibited. This spurred more correspondence, including affidavits indicating Kurita did not violate any laws and that his catch was indeed legitimate.

In the end, the IGFA staff concluded it would be both in the best interest of the IGFA and Kurita if he submitted to a polygraph analysis. He immediately agreed, and the results concluded that Kurita answered the questions honestly and that the catch was legitimate.