Clarification: I had a slew of responses about the photo of George Perry’s world-record largemouth bass -- mainly folks as amazed as myself over the size of that frickin’ thing.
I do want to clarify that man in the photo is NOT George Perry. Sorry about the confusion.
The guy in the old photo is actually an enigmatic figure, part and parcel to the well-published history of the fish. He is sometimes referred to as the “smoking man,” – oddly relatable to the “smoking man” on “X-Files.” He is likely a guide and fishing buddy of Perry’s. As the pic implies, he may have been the final depository for the soon-to-be-eaten fish.
By the by, there were apparently quite a few other photos of the Perry fish taken shortly after it was caught. Most of them simply went into personal albums – from whence came that recently uncovered pic.
I want to take on the prime critics of this photo, those pointing out the apparent anomalous belly protuberance. Naysayers swear it’s some sort of weighty foreign object, manually emplaced.
First of all, an object that large forced into that part of the body would have forced all the other insides further down, offering a totally bizarre final form. More importantly, virtually every world-record fish of a shape similar to a largemouth bass has that identical bursting-belly shape. In fact, that segmented belly look is not uncommon in monster stripers. The big difference is stripers have very thick belly flaps and hold the bulge a bit better. Largemouth bass have very thin skin, so the belly mass can expand in all directions. Hell, I’ve caught skinny pickerel with distended bellies where you can actually perfectly identify the outline of a just-eaten sunfish or (last year) a downed snake. The Perry bass was obviously not hurting for food when it took its pig-out a bit further by sucking down the angler’s plug.
Oddly bulging eyes are a physical feature common to monster fish as many species.
Those seemingly damaged eyes have led me to an odd notion that world-record fish might have glandular problems. It seems that many species, including humans, have individuals who get way too fat. I know that such a genetic angle greatly takes away from the glamour of an all-time fish but there are often certain looks to record fish that lead folks to say something like, “That doesn’t even look like (example) a tog any more.”
That freak fish aspect is a tad more important than at first glance. It could imply that the hugest of fish are not always adding DNA excellence to the gene pool but are instead genetics gone astray. Whatever, it’s fun hooking on, be it a freak or world-record fish.
Anyway, the George Perry bucketmouth bass is like Babe Ruth’s home run record. The record can be broken but the time-tested legend will never die.