This week’s #MarkerMonday looks at the World Record Bass historical marker in Telfair County. On June 2, 1932, George W. Perry caught a 22-pound, 4-ounce largemouth bass. The historical marker, placed in 1984, notes that the record had been retained to that point for more than fifty years, but the record still holds in the United States today, almost ninety years later. However, Manabu Kurita tied Perry’s record, according to the International Game Fish Association, with a largemouth bass caught in Japan in 2009. The bass earned Perry $75 of merchandise in Field and Stream Magazine’s fishing contest and led the magazine to begin cataloging world record fish. This record also led to the largemouth bass becoming Georgia’s Official State Fish in 1970.
George W. Perry and his friend J. E. Page went fishing on June 2, 1932, for food to provide for their families. In 1932, many families not only in rural Georgia but across the country were struggling during the Great Depression. As many people turned to fishing and hunting to provide meals for their families the game population became increasingly depleted.
In 1931, Georgia passed a law to help control fish populations statewide. Prior to this new law, counties had the option to enforce fishing bans or pass other regulations during the spawning season. While most Georgians complied, the rules were not consistent across the state. Freshwater fishing, buying and selling freshwater fish, or using any other means to obtain freshwater fish, including poison and dynamite, became illegal between April 15 and June 1 under the new law. In order to help enforce this new law, the state offered a cash reward of $25 to anyone who caused the arrest of the offending party. The law was lifted by the next year. The Game and Fish Department saw the financial hardships people faced and realized the importance of fishing as a food source, though it was still illegal to use methods other than hook and lines. Today, there is not a statewide closed season for freshwater fishing, but there are regulations on some locations and length, depending on the species.
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