Quick Tips for Catching the Next World Record Bass in Japan

Story by Russ Bassdozer

The location has changed time zones, but the elusive quest remains the same - to catch the next world record bass.

As everyone enviously knows, for 77 or so years, angler George Perry of Georgia has stumped us all by retaining the unattainable 22 lb 4 oz world record for the largest largemouth bass ever caught.

In recent years, there have been a rash of stories and photos of several fish caught in California, that were said to hover around the magic mark, but missed going down in the record books, for some reason or other.

Then a few weeks ago, news flash-flooded the Internet bass fishing websites of a new potential world record contender, Manabu Kurita of Japan who it's said has landed a bass caught in Lake Biwa, Japan weighing barely over Perry's record 22lbs 4oz.

"The potential new world record caught a few weeks ago in Japan was a real eye-opener or huge surprise for many USA anglers who may have only heard about light tackle finesse fishing in Japan, and never realized that there are such lunkers in Japan as well," states Matt Paino, CEO of Optimum Baits who lived six years in Japan while he attended university there and established Optimum Baits business in Japan.

According to Matt, "Japan's anglers, and specifically their devoted big bass hunters are well aware of the truly big bass there, world record class, but have always felt that Japan does not get enough recognition for its trophy bass potential. They feel the world thinks more of California and Mexico as trophy waters, and that Japan does not get the trophy bass recognition it deserves."

Photos of and info about Manabu Kurita's potential new record are not readily available to us at this time, but here's one of Japan's existing official record - 19.15 lbs caught by Kazuya Shimada at Lake Ikehara on April 22, 2003:

Kazuya Shimada holds Japan's 19.15 record bass since 2003

"Fact is," says Matt, "that Japan's 19.15 lb record fish (caught on an Optimum swimbait) is right on par with Mexico's national record bass (which is also the entire Central American (including Cuba) record. So although Mexico and Cuba are often cited as potential world record producers, Japan has a fish in the record books already that's equivalent to Mexico or Cuba's biggest ever! And there are only two US states that have bested Japan's official record - George Perry's Georgia and California. Texas is oft-cited as a potential world record state, but currently has an 18+ on top. Mississippi sits at 18+ too, and Florida at 17-4."

"The next step - toppling the world record, can happen in Japan. If not with Manabu Kurita's recent catch, then with the next one. Indeed, the word is out that scuba divers saw numerous bass all over 20lbs. in Lake Biwa recently, which is where Manabu Kurita's catch came from, and although worldwide eyes are now pinned on Lake Biwa, there are two other lakes in Japan that many believe have world record bass swimming in them."

Two of the places that most of the big fish hunters customarily go to are:

1) Ikehara in the Nara Prefecture
2) Nana Iro Dam in Wakayama & Miya Prefectures

"The food source is a little different for trophy bass in Japan. First of all, bluegill but also eels and 'hera' - a species in the carp family. Hera are not as prolific as threadfin or shad for example, but they are very prevalent throughout the Japanese lakes. They look like a hitch or even a tilapia in profile. Just a chunky morsel. Hera, eels and bluegill are the protein sources that fuel the growth of record size trophy bass in Japan," explains Paino.

"The climate is comparable to the southern USA in summer, but also snows in winter. There's lots of rain in the regions of the big bass lakes, and I believe this all serves as a conducive growing season and climate for bass, and plays into how big they get."

At a recent tackle show, US bass pro Fred Roumbanis (right) and Jun Shoji, a Lake Biwa fishing guide and one of the top pros in Japan in recent years, fantasize about catching the next world record together at Lake Biwa in the near future.