Published June 18, 2013
An old fishing mystery came back to life on the 81st anniversary of the day a Georgia farmer caught what remains the world-record largemouth bass.
George W. Perry caught the 22-pound, four-ounce lunker on Montgomery Lake, in Telfair County, on June 2, 1932. Although the fish was fried up for dinner that same day - and served for two nights - its weight was duly recorded and remains a record. But bass fishing fans have long sought photographic evidence of the prized catch ever since Perry, a pilot and mechanic who died in a plane crash in 1974, cryptically mentioned two pictures that were taken of it.
One, found in 2006, shows two unidentified people holding what appears to be Perry’s bass, though Perry himself is not in the photo. The whereabouts of the other photo have remained a mystery. But Augusta Chronicle outdoors writer Bill Baab received an e-mail earlier this month containing a photo of Perry holding a massive fish, and a message saying, “Happy Anniversary.”
Baab is not sure whether the photo is legit or fake, but he would be the likely recipient of it. A fishing legend in his own right, and the paper's outdoors writer since 1964, he wrote a 2009 book about Perry and the mythical fish that won praise from no less than former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue, who was well aware of the lore surrounding Perry.
"You have beautifully awarded Perry with the honor that he deserves," Perdue said. "He is a true legend in the sport."
Baab is sure the man in the photo is definitely Perry, but he could not say whether the fish he is holding is the 22-pounder or even if the photo has been doctored.
The email's unidentified sender claimed to be a descendent of a fishing buddy who was with Perry when he set the world record. The photo was found in a barn the family owned in Florida, the sender told Baab, before declining to answer more questions.