Southeastern Outdoors Backpacking in the Brooks Range
Southeastern Outdoors
Home > Outdoor Activities > Fishing > World Record Smallmouth Bass
Fishing Gear & Supplies at Bass Pro ShopsWeb Site Promotion

David Hayes World Record Smallmouth Bass Reinstated

December 21, 2005

Frankfort, Kentucky - The all-tackle world record smallmouth bass is again Kentucky’s state record after David Hayes’ legendary 11-pound, 15-ounce fish, taken from Dale Hollow Lake in July, 1955, was recently reinstated by the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources (KDFWR).

“We are proud to have the all-tackle world record smallmouth bass back in Kentucky,” said Benjy Kinman, director of fisheries for the KDFWR. “We definitely know the fish was caught in Kentucky waters.”

Hayes, of Leitchfield, Kentucky, caught the legendary smallmouth in the mouth of Illwill Creek near Phillips Bottom, north of Trooper Island. He was trolling a pearl Bomber 600 in the trough between two weed beds on July 9, 1955. He caught the fish between 10 and 10:30 a.m. while fishing with his family.

Nearly 40 years after the catch, a controversy erupted stemming from an affidavit found by a researcher that stated the fish weighed only 8-pounds, 15-ounces. The affidavit stated the other three pounds were metal and lead weights placed in the belly of the fish by a dockworker.

“The IGFA’s policy is always to investigate standing records when proof is brought forward challenging its legitimacy,” said Jason Schratweiser, conservation director for the International Game Fish Association (IGFA). The IGFA subsequently disqualified the Hayes world record smallmouth bass in 1996.

“Mr. Hayes’ integrity was never in question,” Kinman explained. “We removed the fish from our lists after the IGFA disqualified it. We followed the IGFA’s lead on the front end and back end of this issue.”

Ron Fox, assistant director of the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, brought evidence to the IGFA that convinced them to reinstate the record. Some of the most compelling evidence is the length and girth measurements of the Hayes smallmouth bass.

Hayes all-tackle world record smallmouth bass is 27 inches long with a girth of 21 and 2/3 inches. After disqualifying the Hayes fish as the all tackle world record, the IGFA recognized another Dale Hollow Lake smallmouth as the all tackle world record; a 10-pound, 14-ounce fish caught by John Gorman in 1969.

The Gorman fish had a length of 26 and 1/4 inches with a girth of 21 and 1/2 inches. It is difficult to say a fish weighed only 8-pounds, 15-ounces, as the affidavit alleged, when it is longer and bigger around than the Gorman fish that weighed nearly 11 pounds. This evidence helped convince the IGFA to reinstate the record.

The Hayes record smallmouth bass was between 12 and 13 years old when caught. “That was probably a pre-impoundment fish,” Kinman said. “The fish had that excellent growth rate that comes with new reservoirs. That record will probably never be broken because we will never have those conditions again. We probably will not have another new major impoundment built on a smallmouth stream.”

Hayes’ catch will be reflected in the 2007 edition of the Kentucky Sport Fishing and Boating Guide. The 2006 guide is now available from license retailers throughout Kentucky, containing next year’s fishing and boating laws.

Questions, answers and tips about big game hunting can be found in our Fishing Discussion Forums.

Dale Hollow Lake
World Fish Records
Dale Hollow Picture
Fishing Main
State Records
Fishing Forums
Pecan Catfish
Fish Recipes
Sponsor Links
Dale Hollow Marina
What's This?
Related Links
Kentucky Cabins
Tennessee Cabins
Fish & Game Links
Fishing Guides
Bass Fishing Books