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Mailbag: Chase over for world-record bass

Mac Weakley has decided not to pursue the world record for the 25.1-pound largemouth that he boated early Monday and that his buddy Mike Winn holds here. 

Almost as quickly as it began, the chase it over for a new standard for largemouth bass.

Less than two days after boating a 25.1-pound bucketmouth on tiny Dixon Lake in southern California, angler Mac Weakley has decided not to pursue the world record for largemouth bass.

If it had stood, Monday's catch would have smashed the legendary 22¼-pound milestone that George Perry hauled in from Montgomery Lake in Georgia in June 1932.

But Weakley's catch was controversial — no certified scale, no measurements, it was unintentionally foul-hooked, and, ultimately it was released — none of which would have disqualified the catch.

Yet after seeing a mixed review of his accomplishment on the Internet, ol' Mac decided to let things go, including any riches that may have been associated with the catch.

The mailbag question today: Did he make the right decision?

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

Submit your responses

Name: (City and State):

Did Mac Weakley make the right decision by dropping his pursuit of the world record for largemouth bass?
Share your brief thoughts on the matter right here:

What you have to say

Roger (Houston): These guys have been fishing the same water for years. They know what fish swim on those beds. I think they should have continued with the pursuit (for the record). They had real-time footage of the weigh-in and release. I would not have let the possible foul-hook set stop me from pursuing the record. I commend them for the release, but have my vote that they should have continued. Everyone has set the hook on a bass and the plug has come dislodged from the mouth and you catch the fish on the gill. Don't let that stop you or don't let the idiots who discredit the catch stop you from accepting that you have broken the greatest record of all time! What an awesome fish!

Steve L. (Houston): It was his call to make; personally, I admire him and his friends for their decision. I wish them all luck in the days ahead, and look forward to hearing about them again soon.

Billy Bob (Texas): I woulda had a big ol' fish fry with it … mmm mmm good!

John T. (San Bernardino, Calif.): I think there are many people out there who are just plain jealous of Mac's catch and discount his tough decision to let it go for another day. I applaud Mac for making a painful decision, but nevertheless the right decision. Had he challenged the record, the ensuing fight would have cast a very dark shadow over what is generally considered a sport of good sportsmanship. At the same time I wish him the absolute best in catching that toad again. Make note that this behemoth did come from California, and there was a video and pix. Huge GRATS to Mac!!! Any future record less than 25.1 will pale in comparison to what could have been.

Kenneth (Jacksonville Fla.): He absolutely did the right thing. Not one person would have given him credit for that catch because it was foul-hooked. He would have brought more negative attention to bass fishing and to his life than needed. I would have done the same thing.

Gilbert (Pocatello, Idaho): NO!!! How many times have we heard "pro's" say that the reason they use trailer hooks is because in a fight, the hooks sometime grab another part of the fish, assuring the fish will not get away? If the jig came loose during the fight and embedded into the side of the fish, then it's a legal catch. You people that are jealous of his accomplishment had better get over it. People, we have a new world record!!!

Rick H, (Winter Springs, Fla.): Whether or not this was a record fish, you have to respect the decision that was made. If I could place myself in this situation, I would have made the same choice. I would think that anyone who is going to break this record, would do so by the book.

Clarence (Fresno, Calif.): Mr. Weakley I applaud you. You are welcome in my boat anytime.

Guy Foster (Marina, Calif.): Yes, I think they did the right thing. They know the rules and played by them. I is actions like this that give our sport a good name. I first saw the fish on "BassCenter." They also showed a clip on the Jim Rome Show, where he made a comment that the fish record was his even if he used a shotgun to take it; just shows he has no clue about our sport.

Larry Pinkston (Cave City, Ark.): I still believe the fish should be turned in, unless they really did something wrong, which it does not appear to be. If that's how it happened then, let the chips fall where they will. It is what it is. I vote to submit the fish for the world record.

Jerel Stoor (Boise, Idaho): Yes, If California has laws against snagging, the fish has to be released and can't be considered caught legally.

D. Ellis (Dallas): Yes! He proved himself to be the class sportsman he is by wanting to break the record by the book. Releasing the fish was probably the hardest thing to do, but he did it. It's called character — doing what's right because it's right.

G. Ingols (Montgomery, Ala.): Only they can judge that, but he has a lot of class and integrity for the release and wanting to do it absolutely by the book. He silenced all the doubters, authoritatively! Good job.

Someone (Somewhere): Maybe the guy is already rich and doesn't need the money. Maybe he fishes for sport. Now how respectable is that. Not everything in this world is about money and fame. Notice this man is not in any of the pics posted. It is his friends. Seems like a nice guy that has his head screwed on straight.

Curtiss Middleton (Dayton, Ohio): It sounds as though Mr. Weakley considered the fact that it would have taken an extensive investigation before such a large fish would have been certified as a new record. So given that fact he realized that too many questions would have been asked about how he caught it, etc., etc. … he took the easy way out. Maybe it was a record, maybe it wasn't; we will never know. Only Mr. Weakley knows the true facts, but I doubt very seriously that anyone who fishes as much as he does would have forfeited a chance at breaking the old record … if in fact his story is true.

Cory (Sun Prairie): No, now it looks like the whole thing was a fluke.

Ken Mercer: Absolutely the wrong thing to have done! What will it take, for someone to carry around a certified scale with them! I can't believe only 50 percent think this was a record fish! What will it take? Will you doubters have to wittness the catch next time? I'm a man of principle, and I believe Mr. Weakley is as well. I, on the otherhand, would have fought to the bitter end if I had caught this trophy. Is it because it was caught in that liberal state of California? Maybe it would have been OK if this trophy was caught in some state like Florida or Texas.

Chris (St. Louis): He's a better man than I. Unbelievable sportsmanship. I dont know if I could have let it go. Grats Mac. For all you running your mouths, get a real long look at it because you may or may not see a bucketmouth like that again. He even had it on video. More than most of you have done, questionable or not. Grandpa's rule was set the hook, bank it and it counts.

Greg (Atlanta, Ga.): If the IGFA was willing to consider it, then I would have went through the process. They could have certified the scales after the fact. Although meassurements were not made, they could have been calculated using the photograph. There's no denying that is one giant bass.

Joe Bagby (Flowery Branch, Ga.): Yes, because the fish was foul-hooked. Sounds like he rip-hooked it off the bed; if he caught it legal, he would have weighed it on certified scales. Perry and Georgia still rule!!!!!

Eric (San Diego): Any of you responding to this post could have taken that fish off her nest. Problem? It's like shooting stocked pheasants put in a field an hour early and then telling everybody you're hunting. It's just not the right way to take any game in a sportsmanlike fashion. They ultimately did the right thing. Next time make sure she eats the bait first.

Daniel (Houston): No. If he caught it he should recognized for it. By dropping the chase, he will only raise questions about whether or not it was a record fish.

Charlotte, N.C.: Why would anyone with a new record fish let the record go by the wayside? I think there is more to the story, like it's stuffed or a planted fish grown at home to get the record. That's like winning the lotto and saying, "Nah, I won't take the money; I'll win it again another time. Hmmm, or am I the only one thinking this?

Mike (Memphis, Tenn.): Official or not, that is one Big bass! Very noble to let it go; I'm not sure what I would have done.

Ryan (Baton Rouge, La.): Yes, I think he did the right thing. If in fact he does not care about the money, and fame that would come from having caught the new world-record bass, as he has stated, then he did the right thing.

Dustin (Northrip, Texas): No matter how it was caught, it was caught, and it is still the biggest bass any set of eyes has ever seen.

Burnett Blackmon: He caught the fish fair and square. As far as I'm concerned, he is the new record holder. From what I've read and seen, he and his friends are good and honest men and should be commended for being sensitive enough about the issue that they would release the fish and start over. But … he caught it, and it's a record in my mind. Congratulations are definately in order.

Bryan (Mechanicsville, Va.): The record is his; look at that monster. That bass could eat the biggest bass I have caught in one bite! The record is yours, Mac; take the credit you are due.

Shaun Turasky (Annville, Pa.): I believe he did the right thing because he knew it would not have counted, as it was not weighed properly and there was no need to keep it because of that. What he did by releasing the bass was a good message about conservation. How many people can say they caught and released a 20-plus-pound bass!

Orange, Texas: No, he should let it stand. He caught the fish, he weighed it, took pictures and, by god, that's a catch. He could have eaten it if he wanted to. He is the world-record holder in my eyes. Everyone will remember this fish no matter what. I hope he catches it again, and it weighs 35 lbs. Then all the people can chase that record for the rest of their life, ha!!!! Thomas K.

Jim (Cedar Rapids, Iowa): Mac isn't worried about it, so why should anyone else? He's the one it impacts most, positively or negatively. This group of fishermen seems like down-to-earth guys and I have no problem with them breaking the record on their terms.

John (Niles, Mich.): I believe that everyone should have given the man a break. The man caught a bass that weighed 25 pounds! How many times are we ever going to see a fish like that again? The biggest part that I respect about this story is that he obeyed the rules and let the monster bass go. From seeing how others talk on here, if they would have caught her she'd be headed for a wall right now or to be captive in a tank. It takes a lot of class to put that bass back and let her live on for the future of the sport to benefit by letting her breed and leaving her to be caught again. I respect what Mac did 100% and I thank him for doing it. In my mind this is the new world record.

Mr Dave: No way! He netted that fish and got it in his hands long enough for a picture. Some people just hate to admit that someone did something amazing!

Darrell Swain (Rochester, Mich.): Folks, we have a new world record, even though it my not be in the books; everybody now knows what the new record is.

Matt (Phoenix): It's refreshing to see real sportsmen in the news. Maybe Bonds/Mac/Sosa will come forward and say that they are dropping their numbers from the record books.

Matt: NO!..He should have let an official make that decision! IT'S A MILLION-DOLLAR FISH!

Jon Michael Bosley (Corvallis, Ore.): Absolutely not! If he did, in fact, break the record and there is proof of that, then let the opposition prove him wrong.

Kevin (Windsor, Ontario): Good for Mac in making the right decision. The fact that the fish was foul-hooked (albeit unintentional) should negate its ability to be a world record. According to what I've read, the foul-hook rule is not clearly stated, but it should be. It does not promote good fishing and allowing this record could have encouraged foul-hooking fish. The rules should be clarified and re-written to discourage foul-hooking fish and Mac was a bigger man than that behemoth bass for passing up the record.

Ft. Myers, Fla.: No, some people just don't want others to succeed

Hairy Dawg (Athens, Ga.): He absolutely did the right thing by dropping his pursuit. He did EVERYTHING wrong; i.e. foul hooked it, weighed it on a hand-held digital instead of certified scale and let the fish go; you don't let the world record go. That's like turning down millions (potentially) of dollars.

Don Brewster (Bloomfield, Mich.): I think he deserves consideration for the record, but if Mac didn't feel it was pure enough, then he made the right choice. His integrity is to be commended. They documented everything the best they could and were up front on all the details. They know they caught the fish and how big it was. True soul anglers. Mac is to be particularly commended for releasing it — and the care they all showed in handling the fish — truly a fine example. My hat is off to Mac and his pals.

Todd (Peoria, IL): Give him credit for stepping back from a very tempting, but shaky position in trying to claim the world record. Its legitimacy would be forever suspect. This guy and his buddies have got class and honor. I hope they catch this fish again and it weights 26 lbs.

Steve Virissimo (San Diego): Yes he did. On the heels of some negative publicity of bass fishing tournament cheating, this is a great gesture by a true, committed bass fisherman. He knows the rules of bass fishing and he did all the right things including videotaping the event. He will get all the pub he deserves and Dixon Lake will be flooded by fishermen of all types trying to catch that 25 pounder.

Mike (Minnesota): NO, it is the World Record!!. We take the word of fellow anglers all the time; if Mac says he did not intentionally snag the fish, let it stand.

Mark (Colorado Springs, Colo.): Yes, he did. I thought it was a matter of legality vs sportsmanship. Yes, the WR might have been legal by the IGFA rules, but it wasn't caught in a sporting manner. And, it was released so quickly, just as though Mac had something to hide. Bravo for him recognizing the situation and withdrawing. Now, good luck in his pursuit to catch that fish again … legal this time!

M. Weaver: I think he (and his friends) made the best decision for him. They truly have and embody the word "integrity."

Flower Mound, Texas: Ummm....Fishy Fishy Fishy!!! He did the right thing. Unsurmountable questions that lingered would of put the fish in the record books with an ***. All's fair in love and war.

SoCalBasser (La Puente, Calif.): I think that Mac Weakley bowed out to early; he should have waited to see if the IFGA would have certified it. Anyway, it shows the world record will come from Southern California one day soon!

John (St. Pete, Fla.): He sounds like a real sportsman who is more interested in preserving the fish and his reputation than whatever monetary gain would accrue. Good on him.

Scott (Fair Oaks, Calif.): Yes, he made the right decision. Unless he does it right (proper hook and weigh-in procedure), it will just become a huge mess. This would probably hurt the sport.

John Zediker (Garden Grove, Calif.): No. He should apply for the record and get that scale certified.

Bill Davis (Greenville, S.C.): Kudos to you and your friends for being your own man and for your attitude toward the sport and our great pastime."Love it for what it is," no more, no less. God bless you and your families.

Slim: He made the right decision by releasing the fish. And in a way I'm glad they won't be submitting it for a world record because of the way it was caught and the way they went about it. That's the questionable part. Not only were they sightfishing. They snagged the fish. I don't know how much more that bass can take. Thing's been caught at least three times. And that's just since it passed the 20-pound mark. How many times do you think that fish was caught and released before Mike Long first hit it. That's one amazing specimen.