A new world record?

Seventy-seven years and counting. That's how long George Perry has sat atop the record books in the largemouth bass category, but he may be sharing his perch if a recently caught Japanese bass is as big as has been reported.

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The story comes out of Lake Biwa in the Shiga Prefecture of Japan. The bass reportedly weighs 10.12 kilograms or a little less than 22 pounds, 5 ounces and measured 73.5 centimeters (nearly 29 inches). No girth measurements are available at this time.

Manabu Kurita, 32, is reportedly the fortunate angler. Early reports are that the fish was caught just before noon on July 2 on live bait (either a bluegill or a native fish similar to a bluegill). His rod was a Deps model (he is sponsored by the Japanese fishing tackle manufacturer), his reel was a Shimano Antares DC7 and his line was 25-pound-test Toray fluorocarbon.

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World Record Largemouth?

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A Japanese television clip featuring Kurita and his catch recently surfaced on YouTube.com. To see it, click here. At the time of the video, the fish was alive, but it is now reportedly dead and frozen. In the video, Kurita says, "I knew it was big fish, but I didn't think it was this big. I did not know if it was a new world record or not."

Kurita has experience with big bass. Last year he reportedly caught an 18 1/2-pound largemouth from Biwa on a large swimbait.

The video also notes that Kurita has been fishing for 18 years and will submit an application for world record recognition to the International Game Fish Association. If Kurita's catch holds up, it would be the biggest legally caught certified largemouth in history (Perry's fish weighed 22-4) ... and a tie with Perry's catch as the IGFA's all-tackle world record.

A tie? That's right. According to IGFA regulations for record fish weighing less than 25 pounds (such as all of the black bass subspecies), the replacement (record applicant) must weigh at least two ounces more than the existing record. The Japanese fish that is subject of such interest and inquiry today outweighs Perry's fish by less than an ounce.

"A catch which matches the weight of an existing record or exceeds the weight by less than the amount required to defeat the record will be considered a tie," according to the IGFA.

Lake Biwa is the largest lake in Japan, covering some 259 square miles, and is said to be one of the oldest lakes in the world. It is surrounded by mountains and renowned for its beauty and deep (more than 300 feet), crystal clear waters.

Biwa and its bass population have been in the news in recent years as Japanese officials work to ban and eliminate invasive (nonnative) species from the lake. In fact, the Lake Biwa Museum restaurant offers black bass as a menu item.

The previous Japanese bass record weighed 19.15 pounds and was caught by Kazuya Shimada from Lake Ikehara on April 22, 2003, on a swimbait.