"Since the IGFA requires three months from the time of capture before a record can be approved, the official word would have to wait until October 2," said Schratwieser.
"However, almost right away rumors began to circulate that Kurita may have caught his fish in a 'no-fishing zone'. In response, the IGFA immediately corresponded with the JGFA to speak with the angler about this issue and to gather information regarding the legality of fishing where Kurita caught his bass. Official word came back that the location of the catch was not a no-fishing zone, but was an area where anchoring or stopping was prohibited. This spurred more correspondence with the JGFA and the angler, including affidavits asking the angler if he stopped his boat at anytime. Again, the testimony and affidavits that came back indicated that the Kurita did not violate any laws and that his catch was indeed legitimate."
It didn't end there.
A considerable amount of time and correspondence was to continue between the IGFA, JGFA and Kurita, a primary reason it took so long to come to a decision.
During this time, the IGFA was also besieged with letters and emails from the bass fishing community, said Schratwieser.
"Many were incredulous that the All-Tackle record could be tied from a fish in Japan. Others beseeched the IGFA to approve the record and give Kurita the credit he deserves. Still others wanted to know why the entire process was taking so long. It soon became clear to the IGFA staff that this would be a contentious issue no matter if the record were approved or rejected.
"The IGFA was also sensitive to this particular record because in past years there have been several attempts to sue us over largemouth bass record claims. Although none of these claims have been successful, they have resulted in considerable legal fees for the IGFA," he said.
In the end, the IGFA staff concluded it would be both in the best interest of the IGFA and that of Kurita if he submitted to a polygraph analysis. To any record the IGFA reserves the right to employ polygraph analyses, and this is explicitly stated in the affidavit section of the world record application form.
Again, more correspondence was issued to the JGFA to request that Kurita take a polygraph test.
He immediately agreed.
On December 15, Kurita was examined by a professional polygraph analyst in Japan. The many questions he was given included if he was truthful about the information reported on the application form and if his boat ever came to a complete stop while fighting his fish.
The results from the polygraph concluded that Manabu Kurita answered the questions honestly and that the catch was legitimate.
George Perry's 77 year old record was officially tied.
Due diligence pays off
"Six months may seem like a lot of time to determine if a fish ties a record," said Schratwieser. "Hopefully, people now understand the amount of due diligence the IGFA conducted on this record. Although we treat all records with equal rigor, the All-Tackle largemouth bass record is nothing less than iconic and the bass angling community deserved nothing less."
Schratwieser added, "The IGFA wishes to applaud Kurita on his outstanding catch and would also like to commend him on his character and candor during the entire review process. We would also like to thank the JGFA for their diligence and tireless assistance in corresponding with Kurita and fisheries officials.
Biology and bass across the globe; where will the next record come from
Largemouth bass have also been introduced in many countries but in Japan fisheries officials consider it an invasive species. In addition, because bass are not native and are stocked in Japan, many speculated that the big bass was a sterile triploid. However when biologists in Japan examined the ova of the big female, Schratwieser said they concluded that the fish was not triploid.
For over 77 years the record stood as bass fanatics theorized when and where the record would be broken. Over the years there have been rumors and unsubstantiated reports of bass that could have tied or eclipsed Perry's record, but nothing ever passed IGFA criteria. Some anglers did come close, however.
Schratwieser said the closest came in 1991, when Robert Crupi caught a 22 lb bass in Lake Dixon, California USA that still reigns as the 16 lb line class record and the third heaviest approved bass record in IGFA history.
Most people thought that the next All-Tackle record would come from California. Until Kurita's tie the seven heaviest bass records behind Perry's came from California lakes. Although not native to California, it appears transplanted bass have adapted quite well to the deep, clear lakes and reservoirs and the abundant trout forage found in some of them.
Little did people know that introduced bass grew big in places besides California, and that there are true monsters swimming on the other side of the world in Japan.
More on the IGFA and the World Record Game Fishes book
The IGFA has been recognized as the official keeper of world saltwater fishing records since its founding in 1939. Annually it publishes a comprehensive list of current records of fresh and saltwater fish across the globe in its highly acclaimed World Record Game Fishes book which is divided into all-tackle, line classes, fly, and junior record categories.
The current 2010 edition of the book was released early this week and is only available from the IGFA with a $40 annual membership. The membership also includes on-line access to the most current updated world records on the IGFA web site, six issues of the International Angler bi-monthly news magazine, unlimited admission to the IGFA's interactive Fishing Hall of Fame & Museum in Dania Beach, Fla., plus much more.
To join, or to renew your IGFA membership, go on-line to igfa.org or call the IGFA headquarters at 954-927-2628.
The IGFA is a not-for-profit organization committed to the conservation of game fish and promotion of responsible, ethical angling practices through science, education, rule making and record keeping. IGFA members are located in over 125 countries and territories. The IGFA welcomes visitors daily to its expansive and interactive Fishing Hall of Fame & Museum.