Oklahoma’s state record largemouth bass is 14 pounds, 11 ounces.
Fifteen states can beat it. Most are southern states where it is warmer and the growing season is longer.
Georgia has the world record, the famous 22-pound, 4-ounce largemouth caught in 1932 that was tied last year by an angler in Japan.
Next comes California at 21 pounds, 12 ounces. Texas is third with 18.18 pounds, Mississippi at 18.15 pounds and Florida at 17.27 pounds.
States with record largemouth bass exceeding 16 pounds are Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Virginia and South Carolina.
States with 15-pound plus record largemouth bass are Lousiana, North Carolina, New Mexico and Massachusetts.
The only other state that tops Oklahoma is Indiana’s 14 pound, 12 ounce record.
Indiana and Massachusetts are the two states that don’t seemingly belong on this list. I doubt those states consistently produce trophy bass.
To see a complete list of state largemouth bass records, click on http://assets.espn.go.com/winnercomm/outdoors/bassmaster/pdf/bb_state_Large_20100107.pdf
Stumbling across this list made me wonder. What is the ceiling in Oklahoma for trophy bass? Could an Oklahoma lake produce a 17, 18 or even 20 pound largemouth bass.
Probably not, said Gene Gilliland, fisheries biologist for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.
“We’ve got the genetic component. We probably have the habitat and forage base,” Gilliland said. “It’s just that our growing season isn’t long enough for those fish to reach the full genetic potential.”
Gilliland thinks Oklahoma at best could produce a state record largemouth bass on the upper half of 15 pounds and possibly even 16 pounds. But who knows?
“That’s something that no one has ever really figured out,” he said. “If all the right components come together, you could get a freak of nature that is considerably bigger than everybody else.
“And then somebody has got to catch it. That’s the intangible.”
For 41 years, Oklahoma’s state record largemouth bass was 11 pounds, 15 ounces until it was broken in 1983 at Lake Lawtonka by a 27-year-old dairy farmer from Elgin named James E. Porter, who landed a 12 pound, 1 ounce largemouth.
His fish was from the Florida strain of largemouth bass, which state wildlife officials began stocking in Oklahoma lakes in 1972.
The Florida bass grow larger and more rapidly than native bass. The Oklahoma state record has been broken several times since, but not since 1999.
Gilliland said Oklahoma lakes that typically produce trophy bass are the lakes where Florida bass have been stocked on a regular basis.
In the ‘70s, state wildlife officials put Florida bass in many Oklahoma lakes, but only a handful have consistently produced trophy fish.
Now, they put the Floridas where they get the biggest bang for their buck. Lakes such as Broken Bow, McGee Creek, Murray, Lawtonka, Arbuckle and Sardis.
The Florida bass have been more successful in southern Oklahoma lakes, which have a longer growing season than those in the north.
“Where we typically see really big fish are places we have stocked Florida bass on a regular basis and we have lots of food and lots of forage, and for the most part it’s been in the southeast part of the state,” Gilliland said.
Lakes are stocked every other year with Florida fingerlings grown at the Durant Fish Hatchery.
Where will the next state record be caught? Arbuckle is the hottest lake at present, producing numerous double-digit bass the past three years.
Allen Gifford of Davis missed the state record by three ounces just two years ago with his 14 pound, 8 ounce fish from Arbuckle.
Gilliland would bet on McGee Creek, even though the lake currently doesn’t have a fish among the state’s top 20 largemouth bass.
McGee Creek has a lot of deep water that doesn’t get fished very often, giving bass more opportunity to grow before they ever see a hook, he said.
McGee Creek, however, is currently over-populated with largemouth and spotted bass and the “growth rates are lower than they could be because of the competition,” Gilliland said.
When, and if, the Oklahoma state largemouth bass record is broken again, Gilliland doesn’t think it will be shattered.
“I think we might beat it by a matter of ounces,” he said. “I don’t see us jumping by pounds.”