This is a "One that got away" type story where the bass did 'not' get away. A huge trophy record-breaking bass was caught legally - hook in mouth - using a artificial bait, which measured 30 inches in length and 28 inches in girth on February 23, 2006.
So what 'got away' from trophy bass angler, Richard Cunningham, was that he didn't become the state bass record holder since he didn't report it to Florida Fish and Wildlife (FWC).
He attempted to weigh this bass but his scale malfunctioned by returning an 11 pound reading. Not even close, more like a half reading as it turns out.
The reason that I am writing about this story is because, while I was having my boat serviced at Central Florida Yamaha in Lake Placid, I walked next door to Ben's Bait & Tackle to kills some time and check-out the store. Upon entering the store, my jaw dropped as I couldn't help but notice the enormous bass mounted on the wall in back of the register on the wall.
I inquired from the person working there as to "who caught that bass". He proudly informed me that he did while fishing on Lake June back in 2006. He told me how the scale read pounds and that he never had his bass accurately measured and that Jamar Taxidermy on route 98 in South Sebring did the replica of his giant catch.
Richard continued, "I was fishing that day with a Zoom 'Cotton Candy' Lizard on 20 pound braided line in a depth of 5 feet, and when I threw my line into some pads, the water looked like someone dropped a cinderblock in the water when the bass grabbed the bait".
We continued to talk about the actual weight and how he could know a very close approximate weight by using the math established by other angler's bass that had similar measurements, and were certified and recorded in bass fishing history.
For instance, George Perry's bass and Manabu Kurita's bass, both with the same certified weight of 22.27 pounds and share the 'world record bass title'. And both have published the length and girth measurements of their bass. Perry's bass was 32.5" by 28.5" (difference of 4 inches) and Kurita's bass was 27.20" by 26.77" (difference of 0.43 inches). So Perry's bass had a longer thick body and Kurita's bass had a 'football' body
I have done the math formulas of 'length times girth squared, divided by a divider of 1,200 or 800' (LxGxG/800 or 1200) on all the giant bass caught in bass fishing history, to determine whether or not these formulas are accurate, using both dividers. And I have discovered that there needs to be an adjustment to the divider to arrive at the accurate weight, which is dictated by the L to G difference - 800 and 1200 are too general.
There isn't enough room in this article to list all those numbers so I will simply give you the adjusted formulas of just the two record holder's bass. Perry's bass requires an adjusted formula of LxGxG/1185 to arrive at 22.27 pounds. And Kurita's bass requires a formula of LxGxG/875 to arrive at that same weight.
This is the 'length to girth difference general rule': When a bass measures the same in length and girth, the divider 880 should be used and with a bass with a 5 inch difference in length and girth, the 1,200 divider should be used; I've only used and found this to be accurate on bass over 10 pounds.
Ok now, to determine the accurate weight for Richard's bass which had a 2 inch difference between length and girth. Subtract Kurita's divider of 875 from Perry's divider of 1185 and then divide that total by 2, which then gives us the amount to subtract from 1,185 or to add to 875, which is 155. Note that Richard's bass is in between Perry's and Kurita's sizes in length and girth.
So Richard's bass formula is: 30x28x28/1030 which equals 22.83 pounds, a new Bass World Record of 10 ounces over the current record. Thus the "One that got away" title applies to the 'world record bass title' that Richard did not get, and that Highlands County Florida did not get either.
And sadly so because the national bass angler community has always wondered why the Bass Capitol of the World, here in Florida, doesn't have the title and a larger bass than California, Texas, Georgia, and Japan. At the very least there should be a bass over 20 pounds certified on the state record books but instead our record sits at 17 pounds, 4 ounces since 1986.
I looked up the weather and celestial factor history for that day in 2006 in Lake Placid and found that Feb. 23 was four days before the new moon and orbit perigee - both lunar events on the same day - with a barometer rising quickly from 30.-30.12 In Hg from 6:30-10 a.m. and a southwest wind of 5-10 and a water temperature of just over 71 degrees. She was caught in a 5 foot depth, next to a 150 yard steep decline to 22 foot depths.
She was full of eggs which means she was in pre-spawn mode, feeding heavily to prepare, for most likely, her last spawning effort. So Richard released her after he took several pictures.
You might be thinking, Perry's bass had a longer measurement in length and girth than both Kurita's and Richard's bass and yet they are tied in weight or heavier, respectively. The reason is because Perry's bass wasn't in pre-spawn and full of eggs, and it also wasn't full of food that day. The two 'football' type bass weighed more pounds-per-inch than Perry's lean and mean looking bass.
If Perry's bass was in pre-spawn and had just finished a feeding frenzy he would have had a 24-25 pound bass, like Mac Weakley's 25 pound, 1 ounce bass - he foul hooked it (snagged hooked) thus not able to be considered for a world record.