TYLER, Texas (KETK) – After months of anxiously waiting to hear back from the International Game Fish Association (IGFA), Lea Anne Powell got confirmation that she had officially broken the world record for the biggest largemouth bass ever caught in her line class.
Powell explained that the process to get the record confirmed by the IGFA was thorough.
“The process was fairly intensive. I had to go online, fill out a whole bunch of paperwork and then I actually had to mail in a line sample of the line that was used to catch the fish,” said Powell. “All the paperwork, photos and documentation that I have had to go through multiple panels and I believe internationally.”
Powell added that it took about three months to get official confirmation on the record, but she was so anxious to hear back that she couldn’t help herself but keep calling the board to check-in.
“I submitted everything in March and it was official on June 23,” Powell said. “I had been driving them insane by calling. I’ve been very anxious, you know, I wanted it. Squeaky wheel gets the grease.”
The fish she caught was 12 pounds, 3 ounces and the official record is the biggest largemouth bass ever caught in the 12-pound line class.
Powell shared that the IGFA has different line classes that include 4, 8, 12 and 16-pound line classes. Powell’s fish was caught on a 10-pound Seaguar Red Label line but Powell said, “the way that line actually tests, it actually tests up to 12 pounds.”
Powell told Nexstar’s KETK News that her fishing journey began after her parents passed away in 2015. She shared that her parents loved to fish and she found peace after friends asked her to go fishing and then continued that tradition by diving into that world herself.
Powell said that her friend Dalton Smith, owner of Dalton Smith Guide Service and fishing guide at O.H. Ivie Lake near San Angelo, had a few days off and invited her out to go fishing. On the morning of Feb. 28, Powell and Smith went out on O.H. Ivie Lake not knowing that they were about to catch a new world record fish.
“Before I went to O.H. Ivie with Dalton, I literally had only caught a 7-pound 8-ounce largemouth. And I was like, cool, if I get an 8 pounder I’m happy,” said Powell.
Smith was using a tool called Livescope that serves as an underwater sonogram to help anglers see the fish and tell what’s big and what isn’t.
“You can see the fish and can tell what’s big and you can tell what’s small and we got into this area where [Smith] was seeing a bunch of big fish,” said Powell.
Smith was telling her to cast out in the same area as him as this was only the second day of their trip and Powell was still trying to figure out how to use the Livescope to locate the bigger fish.
“So he casted out about 50 feet from the boat and about 55 feet slightly to the left of where he was,” Powell said. “I was trying to learn this whole Livescope sonogram and I was like, ‘OK, I think I have a follower.’”
Powell added that Smith didn’t believe her at first but once they hooked it, they knew they were about to have a battle on their hands to reel this fish in.
“Once I set the hook he was like, ‘Oh my God, you caught a giant’. But what was crazy is we were both freaking out because it was hooked 45 feet from the boat and 15 feet down on 10-pound line with a spinning rod,” said Powell. “Which, if anybody knows fishing at all, that’s a very hectic situation and anytime I would get her close to the boat, she would start taking off and kept nosing down so I was having to adjust the drag when she would take off running.”
Once they got the fish securely on the boat, they knew they had to quickly take it to the Elm Creek RV Park and Gas Station down the street from the lake, where they have an IGFA certified scale to get weighed.
“My friend told me about doing the records and everything and I had no idea it could be classed as such but it turns out it can,” said Powell.
Powell wants to encourage people — and especially the younger generation of female anglers — to do what they love and get out there and keep a line in the water, as they could catch the next record breaking fish.
“I’m just trying to encourage more people to get out and fish,” Powell said. “I’ve had so much discouragement being a lady angler and I don’t let that stop me. For every no I’m getting told and every word of discouragement, it pushes me and drives me to go harder and go faster and deeper into my tournaments. You can’t make a record, you can’t catch a fish unless you have a line in the water and do what you can to not let any negativity get you down. Turn those negatives into positives and let them motivate you to get out there and fish and just catch ’em up!”