Lost to History: H.W. Ross

Forest and Stream supposedly had evidence of Ross' giant bass, but when the magazine merged with Field & Stream in 1930 and began publishing a list of world records, Ross was forgotten or ignored.

Forest and Stream supposedly had evidence of Ross’ giant bass, but when the magazine merged with Field & Stream in 1930 and began publishing a list of world records, Ross was forgotten or ignored.

[Editor’s Note: Today we have a great piece for you by Ken Duke on a fish that time and a number of people have forgotten. It was a fish mentioned only briefly one time in James A. Henshall’s book More About the Black Bass, published in 1889. The fish of interest was supposedly caught by an H. W. Ross and weighed in at 23-1/8 pounds a weight that would still be the record. Ken Duke, in his usual fashion, disects what we know of this fish and the man, and brings up more questions than answers. We think you’ll enjoy this very early history of record-class bass.]

“Mr. H.W. Ross, when in Florida, caught, in a ‘clear, deep, lily-bound lake,’ near Altoona, in that state, a large-mouthed Black Bass which, he states, weighed twenty-three and one-eighth pounds, and measured, from tip of nose to tip of tail, thirty-seven and one-half inches, and in girth, twenty-nine and one-half inches. The head of this fish was sent to the office of ‘Forest and Stream,’ in New York, and its dimensions were given by the editor as follows: ‘Its maxillary bone measures four and three-fourths inches; the head is seven and one-half inches from the tip of the upper jaw to the end of the opercle, and the lower jaw projects one inch. The greatest girth of the head is sixteen and one-half inches.”

That passage is from James A. Henshall’s More About the Black Bass, his 1889 sequel to Book of the Black Bass (1881). It is the only reference I’ve seen to H.W. Ross or that fish. [Read more…]

Why Perry? – Part Two

Fritz Friebel held the world record for largemouth bass from 1923 through 1933, if you go by the old records kept by Field and Stream. His fish weighed 20-pounds 2-ounces and was taken from Big Fish Lake in Florida. Photo courtesy of Ken Duke.

Fritz Friebel held the world record for largemouth bass from 1923 through 1933, if you go by the old records kept by Field and Stream. His fish weighed 20-pounds 2-ounces and was taken from Big Fish Lake in Florida. Photo courtesy of Ken Duke.

[Editor’s note: This is Part Two of a two-part series on an analysis of the world record largemouth bass. In the first part, Ken Duke looked into the George Perry record and brought up the fact there had been a larger fish caught, weighed and analyzed in the late 1800s. In this part, Ken looks into another two fish that had been placed in world record status, one in 1923 and another in 1933 — the later a year after Perry caught what eventually became the recognized world record. To read Part One, click here.]

The Friebel Bass

While not exactly a contender for world record status once Perry’s catch was certified, Fritz Friebel’s 20 pound, 2 ounce largemouth from Big Fish Lake in Florida on or about May 19, 1923 is important to the record story because it helped set the stage for Perry and established that records have the potential to deliver publicity. [Read more…]

Why Perry? – Part One

Although this isn't a picture of George Perry and his world record bass, it is a fish he submitted to Field and Stream for their annual contest in 1936. The fish was "reported" to be 13 pounds and Perry won the contest that year in the Black-Bass category. Using your judgement, do you feel this fish weighed anywhere close to 13 pounds or was it a typo - maybe 3 pounds? Photo courtesy of Ken Duke.

Although this isn’t a picture of George Perry and his world record bass, it is a fish he submitted to Field and Stream for their annual contest in 1934. The fish was “reported” to be 13-pounds 14 ounces and Perry won the contest that year in the Black-Bass category. Using your judgement, do you feel this fish weighed anywhere close to 13 pounds or was it a typo – maybe 3 pounds? Photo courtesy of Ken Duke.

[Editor’s note: The following is a two-part analysis of the history of the world record largemouth done by former Bassmaster Magazine editor and veritable bass fishing historian, Ken Duke. We welcome the piece with open arms as Ken is one of, if not the foremost authority on bass fishing and its long storied history. We thank Ken for this well thought out piece – one that uncovers a lot of questions that may have never been asked before.]

If you’re a bass angler and a history buff, you know the story of George Perry’s world record largemouth bass. You know that Perry caught his giant bass in 1932, and that he held the top spot in the record books until his mark was “tied” by Japan’s Manabu Kurita in 2009. You know that 22 pounds, 4 ounces is a magic number in our sport.

But did you know that the number might just as easily have been 23-2 or 24-0? Did you know that instead of chasing George Perry, we very nearly chased H.W. Ross or George J. Nicholls?

It’s easiest to start this story in the middle — in South Georgia during the depths of the Great Depression. [Read more…]