Famous Georgia catch honored

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It's one of the world's most famous fish stories.

Weighing in at 22 pounds, 4 ounces, the world-record largemouth bass -- landed in Georgia in 1932 by George W. Perry -- will live on in a new museum planned by the Telfair County Pioneer & Arts Society in McRae-Helena, Ga., not far from the lake where the fish was landed 76 years ago.

Augusta author Bill Baab, who is writing a book on the angler and his famous fish, helped dedicate the project this week by delivering a correctly proportioned fiberglass replica of the fish donated by the Perry family.

"It was made by someone in North Carolina," said Baab, who added that it helps illustrate the massive size of the fish that -- after more than seven decades -- still has not been eclipsed as the world record.

Perry, a 20-year-old farmer, went fishing that day only because it was too wet to work in the fields, Baab said.

In a 1969 interview with Sports Afield , Perry -- who died in a 1974 plane crash -- recalled the famous strike: "All at once the water splashed everywhere. I do remember striking, then raring back and trying to reel, but nothing budged," he said. "I thought for sure I'd lost the fish, that he'd dived and hung me up."

When he took the fish into town, someone mentioned Field & Stream magazine's big fish contest, which spurred Perry to have the fish weighed and measured.

He not only won the contest, along with $75 in sporting equipment, but he also reeled in a place in history.

Although Perry's record still stands, an even larger bass was caught in April 2006 in California. The angler opted not to submit the fish as a the record because it was foul-hooked, contrary to state law.

That fish, caught by Mac Weakley, weighed 25 pounds, 1 ounce, and was released.

BASS FACTS

- The fish was landed June 2, 1932, by George W. Perry in Telfair County, Ga.


- The 22-pound, 4-ounce fish won Field & Stream magazine's monthly big fish contest.


- Perry, who received about $75 in prizes, took the fish home -- and ate it.


- Montgomery Lake, where the fish was caught, lies within Ocmulgee Wildlife Management Area.


- The Perry bass is also Georgia's official State Fish.

IF YOU GO

The Telfair County Pioneer Arts and Historical Society Museum is located on Forsyth Street in Helena, Ga. Hours are 2 to 5 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. It is also open for groups -- by appointment -- by calling (229) 868-2664. There is no admission fee, but donations are accepted.


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