Without a doubt the most famous fishing record in the world is the largemouth bass record. It was originally set in 1932 at 22-pounds, 4-ounces by George Perry, and then tied by Manabu Kurita in 2009.

But, did you know this record was broken. Not just broken, but shattered – by almost 3 pounds! Here’s the ultimate “what if” story in fishing history.

On March 20, 2006, 32-year-old Mac Weakley of Carlsbad, California, was fishing on 72-acre Dixon Lake near Escondido, California, with his long-time fishing partners Mike Winn and Jed Dickerson when he caught a largemouth bass. This was not just any bass; it was THE bass. It weighed 25 pounds, 1 ounce on the men’s hand-held digital scale, making it a potential new world record. By all indications, it could have shattered the most legendary angling record of all time—the 22-pound, 4-ounce largemouth bass caught in 1932 in Georgia’s Montgomery Lake by George Washington Perry.

Unfortunately, the 25-pounder Weakley landed, was unintentionally foul-hooked. The white jig Weakley was casting stuck in the fish’s side just below the dorsal fin when he set the hook. And because of this fact, Weakley quickly decided to release the humongous bass.

On May 8, 2008, Dottie was found floating across from the dock area and is now awaiting Dept of Fish and game officials to pick up tissue sample to determine her true age, although a rough guess at this point is 15-17 years old.

Tim Schick, ESPNOutdoors.com

Jed Dickerson holds world-record class bass Dottie after she was found dead on Dixon Lake.

Dottie on assuming lake temperature had lost some weight, probably due to recently spawning, unlike the first catch when she was full of eggs. Dottie at her time of passing weighed in at only 19 lbs.

ESPN Outdoors followed the chase with, “The One That Got Away.” Here are some excerpts from this fascinating, heartbreaking article:

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“They devoted every minute of their free time to catching Dottie, which they believed would be large enough to score them the most coveted and historic record in bass fishing.

Dickerson was the first to realize the dream in 2003, and he thought the record was officially broken when he picked her off a spawning bed. He said the three friends immediately weighed Dottie at around 23 pounds, but it took the Game and Fish three hours to get to the lake to verify it as a record. By that time, they said, it was stressed and had lost a lot of its weight.

Tim Schick, ESPNOutdoors.com

Jed Dickerson loads Dottie into a bag for the Game and Fish Department. Dottie was put in a freezer to be examined later

She officially weighed 21 pounds, 11 ounces, which still holds as the fourth largest largemouth bass ever recorded. That’s when they noticed the spot on the gill and declared the race for “Dottie” and the record officially on.

They didn’t pull her in again until 2006 when they again spotted her on a spawning bed and Weakley went to work. He eventually was able to set the hook, but when he got her to the boat, they noticed she had been foul hooked (not hooked in the mouth). Against his friends’ wishes, Weakley decided not to try and make the record official with the Game and Fish.

Before releasing her, they weighed Dottie at 25 pounds, 1 ounce, shattering the record, took some photos. Weakley said he wasn’t prepared for the scrutiny that followed.”

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