DANIA BEACH, Fla., – After an intense investigation of documents, many from 50 years ago, the International Game Fish Association, the organization which among its duties maintains world records for both freshwater and saltwater game fishes, has reinstated a record for the biggest smallmouth bass ever caught. While fishing Dale Hollow Lake on the Tennessee/Kentucky line, July 8, 1955, David Hayes, Leitchfield, Ky., caught the biggest smallmouth bass of his life. He brought it to a nearby marina which weighed the catch at 11 lb 15 oz and measured it at 27 inches long with a 21 2/3 inch girth.
Hayes entered the fish for a record with Field & Stream magazine which, at the time, was the keeper of freshwater records. Field & Stream granted Hayes’ fish a record for the heaviest smallmouth bass ever taken on rod and reel, and in 1978, when the IGFA took over freshwater record keeping from Field & Stream, it was then granted a world all-tackle record by the IGFA.
On August 17, 1955, unbeknownst to Field & Stream or the IGFA, Raymond Barlow submitted an affidavit to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers stating that Hayes’ fish had only weighed 8 lb 15 oz and that he (Barlow) had stuffed three pounds of metal in the fishes’ mouth and stomach to make it a record. It wasn’t until 40 years later when the affidavit was uncovered that the IGFA was contacted and informed about the sworn statement.
“The IGFA’s policy has always been to investigate standing records when proof is brought forward challenging its legitimacy,” said Jason Schratwieser, IGFA Conservation Director. “After reviewing the affidavit, the IGFA in 1996 rescinded Hayes’ record and a 10 lb 14 oz smallmouth caught by John Gorman in 1969, also on Dale Hollow Lake, was recognized as the new IGFA All-Tackle record.
However, Schratwieser said, recent documentation, including polygraph results, was supplied to the IGFA indicating that David Hayes’ fish was never tampered with.
“Further investigation also found that the dimensions of Hayes’ fish would make it very unlikely to weigh 8 lb 15 oz when you compare it to the previous (Gorman’s) All-Tackle fish’s dimensions of 26 ¼ inches in length and 21 ½ inches in girth. Based on this information, the IGFA decided to reinstate David Hayes’ catch as the All-Tackle smallmouth bass record.”
Schratwieser said the IGFA wishes to congratulate Mr. Hayes on a true catch of a lifetime and welcomes him back to his rightful place in the IGFA World Records.
The decision will be recognized in the IGFA’s forthcoming 2006 World Record Game Fishes annual released worldwide.
Founded in 1939, the IGFA is a not-for-profit organization committed to the conservation of game fish and promotion of responsible, ethical angling practices through science, education, rule making and record keeping. The IGFA phone number is 954-927-2628 and web site is www.igfa.org.
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