Mailbag: World-record bass?

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    If you love me, let me go.

    Apparently that's what Carlsbad, Calif., angler Mac Weakley heard when he boated what he weighed out to be the largest largemouth bass of all-time.

    The early Monday catch at tiny Dixon Lake in San Diego County will now be forever debated, because, get this, Weakley let the 25.1-pound potential world record go. Yep, he released the gigantic bass to swim another day, even as it was poised to break what is considered the grandest record in all of angling.

    Weakley still plans to apply for world-record status, and he does have several things going for him — witnesses, photo evidence and video of the behemoth on a hand-held digital scale — that he's definitely going to need to eclipse the legendary standard of 22¼ pounds set in 1932 by George Perry on Georgia's Montgomery Lake.

    The mailbag question today: Even though he released a bass he weighed out at 25.1 pounds, should Mac Weakley be credited for a new world-record largemouth bass?

    Offer your thoughts and we'll consider for posting below.

    Submit your responses

    Name: (City and State):

    Should Mac Weakley be credited for a new world-record largemouth bass?
    Share your brief thoughts on the matter right here:

    What you have to say

    Tony Anderson (Shelbyville, Tenn.): NO!! Please tell these people in Cali/West Side how to do this the right way!!! Is it so hard to get a wildlife agent to these places & to certify scales before releasing these giant fish?? I say this will be another crying towel fish that shoulda been kept until THE MAN was there to certify this MONSTER!! How many times does this gotta happen before they learn?? If it were me, I would be like a snapping turtle, I wouldn't have let go till the sun went down & then the mighta had to shoot me! WOW, what a giant!! AMAZING!!

    Patrick W. (Granby, Connecticut): YES. Who cares if the scale wasn't certified. He has the proof. All the people who say no just are jealous that they didn't catch it. I am, but at least I'll admit that he caught it.

    Billy Carroll (Fayetteville, N.C.): No, a guy that fishes for big bass all the time should know that this fish needed to be weighed on certified scales. They could have placed the fish in a container and called the nearest wildlife manager. This is a world record we are talking about and a lot of money on the line, and this guy expects a couple of pictures and a digital scale to topple a record that has stood for 67 years. Sounds fishy to me.

    Ken Rolls (Hornlake, Miss.): From my experience bass fishing, bass can do funny things. If that fish turned to strike, then the possibility of it getting hooked in the side is good. I think it should stand, just because weird things happen fishing. I once had a bass hit a roostertail, throw the hook, then 4 seconds later a channel catfish took it. I landed that one. So, as they say, stuff happens.

    Lake Havasu, Ariz.: Absolutely, I am glad they had the balls to release it instead of killing it.

    T. Michael (Chattanooga, Tenn.): For years now we have been listening to announcements that the next world record would come from California or Florida. It is no surprise to me that this claim has finally been announced. No, I do not feel it fits the criteria set forth. If this holds as the word record, what will keep some good old boys from farm feeding a large bass, filming, taking pictures and then loosing it (releasing it) and only having pictures to show. I think a strict format needs to be established and followed for this kind of fame. Do I wish it were me? Heck, yeah. Can anyone farm-raise a fish? Yeah. What is the + or - factor on this Kmart scale? No title as I see it.

    Barret (Baton Rouge, La.): It's impossible to tell whether or not the fish was tampered with. It could have been weighted in its mouth with lead and the video showing it on the scale would never be able to pick this up. Also, it was snagged, so without official certification from any witnesses, I'd say it should not stand.

    Rich Nellenback: Just look at that thing, it's huge. But if this guy is an avid trophy angler, he should have known that it needed to be weighed on a certified scale. As for the foul-hook thing, everyone who's ever been bass fishing knows that a bass can throw a lure and sometimes it hooks on the outside. But with that in mind, it makes the whole thing fishy.

    Denver: Absolutely. Give the guy a break.

    Jon (Freeland, Mich.): NO. The fish was not weighed on a certified scale; also the fish was snagged. In the areas that I fish, if a fish is snagged and kept, you are getting a fine.

    Bill (New Jersey):: I say no, since it wasn't checked on a certified scale. As for the foul-hooked part, it depends on were it was hooked. Fish can spit it out right as you set the hook causing it to get snagged outside their mouth.

    Fred Giesler (Columbia, Mo.): It's a world-record bass, but is it a world-record catch? Likely so, as long as the witnesses can testify it was not intentionally snagged. Bed-fishing can result in catches like this, which are legal in most all tournaments. It takes a man to release a big fish, especially this one.

    John (Antioch, Ill.): If the scale turns out to be accurate enough, then, yes, it should stand. Sometimes those cheap, spring scales can be off quite a few pounds; but the electronic ones are fairly accurate.

    Greg (Eau Claire, Wis.): Even if the scale is verified, how can they verify the fish was not tampered with? Do the witnesses have something to gain? How do you determine intent on the foul-hooking? Too many questions to be legit. No record.

    Palmdale, Calif.: It needs to be on a certified scale and looked at by the game warden or other qualified person. I have seen many people stuff a bass with many different things to increase the weight. They should not have released it so soon. Not this one that is 25 lbs!!! Have it certified — common sense.

    Greg (Oklahoma City, Okla.): That's funny. I caught 25.2-pounder just this morning in a pond within walking distance of my home. A newest world record!! Threw it back though, thought it'd be the right thing to do. Now, who should I contact to get my prize? Uhhhhhh — no!

    Drake (Charleston, S.C.): What the hell causes fish to grow (mutate) that big anyway? We all know that California is a screwed up state, but now they are messing with bass fishing.

    Eric (Vernon, N.Y.)>: Yes, I believe the foul-hooking rules are very vague and (this) was not intentionally done. He also deserves some credit for promptly releasing the fish and giving opportunity for this record to fall in the future.

    Mike (Florida): I think he should be rewarded for both, the fish AND his attitude. Someone actually RELEASED a fish?? Wow, he's a good guy. Maybe some shark fisherman will read about him and learn! I love his comment, "We're more happy just to see that there is a 25-pound bass still living and in this lake." AWARD HIM!

    John (Anchorage, Alaska): Absolutely. What's the complaint, that the fish lives to be caught again??

    Greg (Detroit): Mac should be credited with the new world-record largemouth. What a great sportsman he is for not wanting to harm the fish in anyway. I admire that.

    Felix (Austin, Texas): Not a certified scale, not a world record. If he is granted a world record this would open the door for other people to break the world record under similar conditions, for the sake of fame and fortune. Too bad. I believe Mr. Weakley did honestly catch a world-record bass.

    G. Yates (Rowlett, Texas): Absolutely not! When did snagging become sporting? There are numerous details about the actions of Mr. Weakley that, proven true, are particularly disturbing. Most importantly, he admits to foul-hooking the fish and by California game laws that is not deemed a legal catch. Hopefully, this fish will survive and have a chance to become a legitimate world record one day.

    Karl Dittman (Salem, Mo.): If he has conclusive proof regarding the catch and weight then he needs to be credited with the catch. Since I am a catch-and-release fisherman, I can relate to the way he handled the situation. He should have the scale he weighed the fish on verified and then he should be credited with the record. Jimmy Houston would have hugged and kissed a fish like that.

    Jeff (Grand Prairie, Texas) : Yes, the fish may have been foul-hooked, but it was trying to get the lure off of its bed and that meant the fish went after it. As far as weight is concerned, I would say no if it was within a pound of the record, but this fish weighed more than 3 pounds over the record … that should be sufficient proof enough.

    Jim (Atlanta, Ga.): These guys were in a great book I just finished called, "Sowbelly." It's about the world-record chase.

    Joe Preast: I don't think so. It wasn't weighed on certified scales, nor was it witnessed by a state official. Personally, I do not think an angler would release a world-record largemouth knowing it was a record. If he wanted the record he should have went through the proper channels as any other angler would have to.

    Chuck (Lawrenceville, Ga.): Is this another one of those California lakes that they are stocking with live trout just to produce the next record?

    Mike (Massachusetts): He definitely should get credit if the witnesses are legit and the video shows the weight on the scale; that's definitely a biggun.

    Joe: (St. Paul, Minn.) : Yes, give him the record. This would encourage catch and release. Great for fishing.

    Scott (Tavares, Fla.): How 'bout them Florida-strain largemouth? No, it should not! He should have took the time to properly register a new world record. What's he tryin' to hide ?

    Birmingham, Ala.: If he truly has witnesses, photo evidence, a video of the fish on digital scales,and the scales are compared, pound for pound, with a certified scale then, yes, he should be credited with the record. He has displayed the true attributes of an angler!

    Corpus Christi , Texas: Yes, he should get it. Everybody should stop being a hater and give the man some props.

    Chad (Atlantic Beach, Fla.): Yes. Providing his equipment checks out he should be given the record. "Foul hooking" is a ridiculous concept. He landed this 25-pound monster with 15-pound test despite not hooking it clean. That, in itself, is deserving of the recognition. Good work, Mac, and kudos for the catch and release — a true sportsman.

    La Grange: Yes, I think that he should get the world record for a bass of that size and weight. I mean look at it! It?s a beast.

    Jeff Greenville, S.C.: He most certainly should. I suppose some think that he should only be rewarded if he had killed the fish and let it rot on the dock, but I applaud Mac for letting it go.

    John Greenville, S.C.: Unfortunately, no. This day in age of computers and digital photography … even if it is a fact, there will be thousands of pics coming in next week claiming they broke the record, only to capitalize on the profits.

    Rick (Tulsa, Okla.): Looks like he stuffed that thing with a bowling ball. Unless it is checked by the proper authorities, it shouldn't be counted. If you shoot a record deer, it doesn't die and you let it go, you never really had it, now did you?

    Andrew Grills (Harlan, Ky.): Absolutely not. The bass was foul hooked from her bed. There is no skill involved in bed fishing and accidentally hooking a spawning female.

    Joel (Roanoke, Va.): Absolutely!! With all the evidence he has to prove the catch, he should first be awarded the world record, and then rewarded for returning such an icon of nature back to live out its life.

    Jim Powers: (Wichita Falls, Texas): Yes, he should have the record, as your article states: "witnesses, photo evidence and video of the behemoth on a hand-held digital scale."

    Brent Sterling (St. Clair, Mo.):
    What are the regulations in their state? In Missouri the wildlife code states; (6) Fish not hooked in the mouth or jaw, except those legally taken by snagging, snaring, grabbing, gig, longbow, crossbow, underwater spearfishing or falconry must be returned to the water unharmed immediately. In Missouri the fish would have to be released and not be eligible for a record. Cheers to Mr. Weakley for releasing the fish!

    Mark Hilliard (Ohio): No. Foul hooked and no fish! Pictures and video are great and maybe they will certify with that. For all we know he added lead in the mouth.

    Tony: Mac isn't laying claim to a WR; he's merely letting folks know that this fish was boated. If he thought he had a legal claim to a world record, he'd of handled it entirely differently. That explains why the fish was released. What he did clearly wasn't cheating. Awesome fish, Mac! Sure wish that fish would have bitten and kept the hook in her mouth; then we'd all be toasting a new WR!

    Addison, NY: Yes, considering he released it, he obviously is an ambassador to the sport.

    Ron (Rochester, N.Y.): If the scales check out and Weakly would voluntarily submit to and pass a polygraph exam, I say give it to him. Props to Mac for releasing the trophy! In this day of "money means everything", Mac's outlook is refreshing.

    Tom (Lake Orion, Mich.): After his digital scale is validated, of course he should get the record. He has verification evidence. He did the right thing by releasing that monster for someone else to catch.

    Pete (Reedsport, Ore.): No! Accidentally snagged, or not, the fish did not bite, so it wasn't fooled and should not be a world-record catch, or even a legal catch. Kudos for promptly releasing it are definitely merited.

    Goat (Baltimore): As much as foul-hooking sucks, who is to say she did not spit (out the jig) and rehook herself; fish have been known to do that. If people, photos, video and scale all have it, he needs a little respect. It is not a sea monster that has many doubters giving credit with way less evidence while they are known legends!

    MWF (Alpine, Calif.): I would have thrown that sucker on the stringer! Lots of fish tacos!

    Shawn Handelman (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.): Absolutely he should get the record! If his digital scale is checked out and proven valid, then yes! Anyone claiming cheating should have their head examined. Cheers, Mac, you deserve it!

    Brett (S. Knoxville, Tenn.): I've been reading about this lake. No gas powered boats? No swimming. Something is odd. Bass fishing in California is weird in it's self.

    Ben (Bloomington, Minn.): Yes, he should. It's bass fishing! Who cares?!

    Mike Heath (St. Clairsville, Ohio): What an amazing fish! My Question: If I hit a world-record whitetail with my car, should it also be legit?? He knows where she lives; better luck next year!

    Brian (Lakeside, Calif.): Mac and his buddies are trophy/record bass hunters and don't use a certified scale? We'll have to call it the official-almost-kind-of-sort-of-would-have-been-could-have-been world record.

    Jesse (Canada): You call that a fish?

    John (Napa, Calif.): Don't be a poor sport. Everybody hates on bass fishing in California. We have the best fishing and now the biggest fish.

    Jim (Pitts., Pa.): If this fish is bedding close to the dock, couldn't they shock her to prove her real weight? Realistically, how could anyone throw back even a potential WORLD RECORD? I have my doubts about this one.

    Eric ( Redding, Calif.): Who in there right mind would release a fish of that magnitude, with questions of a possible world-record looming, and then try to claim it. That guy's an idiot because he just lost out on a bunch of money and shouldn't ever hold the record because he let it go.

    Jake (St. Cloud, Minn.): Smells a little fishy to me ...you could almost hear the sinkers rattlin' in the belly of that fish through the screen.

    Steve Hammersley (Coshocton, Ohio): Yes, he does if everything is legal. All they gotta do is check his digital scale to see if it is working properly. As for the foul hooking, that's another thing they have to figure out. I don't think he snagged it, because his long-time fishing partner Jed Dickerson explained that it was raining and dark that morning at 6:40 am and in 12 feet of water. (It was difficult to see and it) had to be pretty clear for him to snag it on purpose. Now if he was using a crankbait on bedding bass, then I'd have to say no he doesn't deserve the record. Besides, if he did catch a record fish they could give him a polygraph test to see if he snagged it or foul hooked it. I'm glad he released it back into the lake so someone else could experience what he did. He's a true bass fisherman for that.

    Brian (Kirksville, Mo.): Yes!! The fact that this guy released it shouldn't matter, because most likely he isn't lying. The integrity of Mac and his friend has already been shown, since they released that same fish three years ago!! Now, honestly, who in their right mind would release a 21-pounder? I know I wouldn't. These guys obviously have a true love for the sport and the fish.

    Denny J., (Michigan): Definitely should count. I am impressed that mac released the fish. Never mind the sour grapes who probably cannot tie on a hook. You deserve the record!!

    Ping (Foster City, Calif.): The fact that the fish was foul-hooked does not disqualify it from world-record contention. As it states in the article, only if the fish was intentionally foul-hooked is disqualification imminent. I don't see how Weakley's intent to foul-hook the fish can ever be proven, so we have to give him the benefit of the doubt. As long as his scale checks out, give him kudos and the official record!

    Stan Gualtieri (Warrington, Pa.): World-record bass and Barry Bonds! Both in California! Coincidence???????

    Moose (Boise, Idaho): Absolutely! The archaic rules of what constitutes a world record should be revised. Why destroy a beautiful fish to satisfy a silly requirement born out of charlatans and the P.T. Barnams of the world. Mr. Weakley should be commended and registered as the title holder. Dead fish shouldn't be required for sanctioning.

    Rob (Oxford, Miss.): If the evidence that he presents is sufficient enough to determine that this is the fish, then heck yes. I am all for catch and release, but I don't know if I could have let that one go.

    Bud (Branson, Mo.): There were two fish on that bed, and the male could have been going for that jig as easily as the female. How could he tell? I say he snagged her and shouldn't get recognized for squat.

    Mark (Peabody, Mass.): You can tell by the picture it is that big if not bigger; give the man the record he deserves!

    Mike (Texas): Something seems "fishy" here. As avid fishermen, you would assume they would realize the enormity of this fish. Then they release her? Seems odd to me.

    Daniel (Nashville): Recognition only. He did the right thing by releasing her, and congratulations on a great catch. Give him the sponsorships and recognition for his accomplishment, but it should only be a sidebar to the current record. And I think he would be OK with that.

    Woodbury, Minn.: Absolutely. That is a huge fish. I'm thrilled that Mac released it to get even bigger.

    T. Cook (Colorado): I think you should count the record and commend them for catch-and-release fishing. How many fish have died that people thought were (records and kept?).

    Mark (Jackson, N.J.): Of course he should be credited with the record. The man caught the fish and did what you are supposed to do; he released it. It would have been a shame if he killed it.

    John Semken (Olympia, Wa.): No! I know the record will be broken and probably in California, but this one isn't it. Foul hooked off a bed and not weighed on certified scales. Not Yet.

    M. (South Louisiana): If all issues check out, OK, then, YES, it should be the new world record. Issues like why didn't they get it weighed on a certified scale must be resolved first.

    Steven (Rochester, N.Y.): No way does it deserve world-record status. The chances of that catch were totally random and totally dependant on the life span and environment of the bass itself. I doubt the angler did anything special or unique to catch this one. To compare it to Dimaggio's hit streak is absurd.

    Matt (Austin, Texas): No, I think there is some foul play, because if he really caught a fish that big he and wanted to release it, he could have done so later. He obviously wasn't too worried about the fish because he took it out of the water to weigh it on his digital scale and even though he says he doesn't care about the record, he sure is pushing the story and his evidence.

    John (Poway, Calif.): No, Mac knows just like the rest of us out here the only way to catch her without question is to make sure it is a good catch.

    Phoenix: Foul hooking doesn't count! That's cheating!

    Portsmouth, Va.: If everything is legit then, hell yeah! And I applaud him for throwing it back. He wouldn't be a true sportsman if he didn't. Therefore it wouldn't be on ESPN.

    Larry (Arcata, Calif.): Simply by being a good sportsman and releasing her, Mac deserves the world record, foul hook and all. Who knows, this fish could put on another 3.4 pounds by 2009.

    Dan S. (Keller, Texas): Foul hooked, not caught legally. Not certified, not a world record. 'Nuf Said.

    Trey Trimnal (Boone, N.C.): This guy deserves more than world-record status … if his evidence proves to be legit. I've been fishing since before I can stand up, and it's hard for me to release a 5-pounder. The fact that he released what he knew to be a world record amazes me.