Rumors mill churns around potential record


It's as certain as death and taxes. Catch a potential world record fish and somebody's going to call you a liar … or cheat … or fraud … or worse.

Since Manabu Kurita's 22 pounder was boated two weeks ago, there's been lots of buzz but very little information circulating about the catch. Much of what we "know" about it has come second hand. Kurita has been noticeably silent about the catch. Perhaps it's his choice as to how he hopes to monetize the achievement. After all, information is power, and right now, Kurita and his sponsor — the Deps tackle company in Japan — have a stranglehold on it.

But one thing they'll never be able to control, no matter how much power they might have, are the rumors that are starting to spread about the potential record.

This week, as the fishing industry gathers in Orlando, Fla., for the annual ICAST trade convention, the biggest rumor surrounding Kurita's potential world record is that the fish might have been caught in an off-limits area of the lake, or at least an area in which boats are prohibited.

That might not seem a big deal to anglers who believe that any catch on rod and reel should be good enough for the record books, but to the official record keeping authority — the International Game Fish Association — it could be a very big deal, indeed. In fact, it could be such a big deal that Kurita's catch could wind up nowhere the record books.

In the IGFA rules, under general information, there is a provision that reads as follows:

"No applications will be accepted for fish caught in hatchery waters or sanctuaries. The catch must not be at variance with any laws or regulations governing the species or the waters in which it was caught."

Now, no one could possibly assert that Kurita caught the fish in hatchery waters. Lake Biwa covers more than 100,000 surface acres and is a popular fishery.

But, if it turns out to be true that he caught the bass from waters that were posted or otherwise established as an off-limits area, that area could qualify as a "sanctuary" under IGFA regulations, thereby disqualifying the catch.

Furthermore, even if it weren't deemed a "sanctuary," if the area was merely posted as off-limits, the IGFA could conclude that fishing there was a violation of the waters and disqualify it on those grounds.

Whatever the ruling, the odds are that it will be made pretty soon. It appears that the Japanese Game Fish Association, a sister organization to the IGFA, has received Kurita's application and is forwarding it to the IGFA's office in Dania Beach, Fla.