Lea Anne Powell received confirmation from the International Game Fish Association (IGFA) that she had officially broken the world record for the largest largemouth bass ever caught in her line class, after months of anxious anticipation.
According to Powell, the process of confirming the record with the IGFA was rigorous. “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 mentioned that it took approximately three months to receive official confirmation of the record. However, due to her eagerness to hear back, she couldn’t resist calling the board repeatedly to inquire about the status. “I submitted everything in March, and it was officially confirmed on June 23,” Powell shared. “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 weighed 12 pounds and 3 ounces, setting the new record for the biggest largemouth bass ever caught in the 12-pound line class.
Powell explained that the IGFA has various line classes, including 4, 8, 12, and 16 pounds. While Powell’s fish was caught using a 10-pound Seaguar Red Label line, she noted, “the way that line actually tests, it actually tests up to 12 pounds.”
Speaking to Nexstar’s KETK News, Powell shared that her journey into fishing began after her parents passed away in 2015. She discovered solace in fishing when friends invited her to join them, continuing the tradition her parents enjoyed.
Powell mentioned that her friend Dalton Smith, a fishing guide at O.H. Ivie Lake near San Angelo, had a few days off and invited her to go fishing. On February 28, Powell and Smith embarked on their fishing trip to O.H. Ivie Lake, unaware 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,” Powell recalled.
Smith used a tool called Livescope, which acts as an underwater sonogram, enabling anglers to identify the size of fish. Powell explained, “With Livescope, you can see the fish and distinguish between big and small ones. We found ourselves in an area where [Smith] spotted numerous large fish.”
Smith advised Powell to cast her line in the same area. As Powell was still learning how to use Livescope to locate larger fish, she said, “He cast his line about 50 feet away from the boat and slightly to the left, approximately 55 feet. I was trying to comprehend this whole Livescope sonogram, and I thought, ‘Okay, I think I have a follower.'”
Powell added that Smith initially didn’t believe her, but as soon as they hooked the fish, they realized they were in for a challenging battle to reel it in. “Once I set the hook, he exclaimed, ‘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.”
After securely retrieving the fish onto the boat, they immediately recognized the need to swiftly transport it to Elm Creek RV Park and Gas Station, located nearby the lake. This particular establishment possesses an IGFA certified scale, essential for accurately weighing the fish.
Expressing his astonishment, Powell remarked, “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’s primary objective is to inspire individuals, particularly the younger generation of female anglers, to pursue their passion and actively engage in fishing. He encourages them to cast their lines and immerse themselves in the experience, as they might be the ones to catch the next fish that breaks a record.
“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!”