A little luck nabbed a record size largemouth bass for 20-year-old Dylan Gilmore of Perry. Gilmore and his friend Austin Lake had set their trotline on April 27 using goldfish as bait, hoping to catch some catfish at Ka-Tonka Lake, located in Ka-Tonka Game Preserve and Sporting Clays Club in Ralls County. When they returned the next day to check their line, Gilmore realized they had caught something. When pulling the line to their boat, what he assumed was a catfish instead turned into something a little more.
“We knew something was on there,” Gilmore said. “I reached down and grabbed the fish and thought oh my gosh, this thing is huge. It felt like a dream at first. I have never seen a bass that big in person.”
Gilmore was not quite sure what to do with the large fish, so he put it in a cooler with aerated water and headed to the Hobby Hut, a bait and tackle store, on Highway 19 in Perry.
“I shop at the Hobby Hut and figured they would know what to do with such a large fish,” Gilmore said. While at the store, Gilmore had the fish weighed.
The scale read 9 pounds, 8 ounces. “Once I knew how much it weighed, I looked up the record online,” Gilmore said. “I found the web page on the Missouri Department of Conservation’s (MDC) website. At first, I didn’t think I had broken the record, but that’s when I saw the line for alternative methods.”
The owner of the store allowed Gilmore to keep his fish in a tank until he could contact MDC. On May 1, Gilmore phoned Fisheries Management Biologist Ross Dames and told him about his fish. Dames met Gilmore at the Hobby Hut to get an official weight on the stores’ certified scale. At that point, Gilmore’s fish weighed in at 9 pounds, 2 ounces and was 23.5 inches long; big enough to nab him a new state largemouth bass record for alternative methods.
“When I saw I officially had the record, I was pretty excited,” Gilmore said. “But it also made me think I should have called the conservation department sooner!”
Missouri’s previous state record, which stood for 10 years, was an 8-pound, 2.2-ounce, 24-inch fish caught via trotline, using goldfish bait in Country Boy Estate Lake in Boone County on Dec. 16, 2002.
The largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides) is a species of black bass in the sunfish family native to North America. Largemouth bass are very aggressive fish and will strike at nearly anything they consider alive. Average size is 3 to 10 pounds, though the fish can reach as much as 20 pounds and can live for 10 to 15 years. Largemouth bass thrive in warm, moderately clear waters with little or no current. They can be found all over Missouri in all types of water including lakes, artificial impoundments of all sizes, permanent pools of streams, and quiet backwaters of large rivers. The fish are most active at dawn and dusk.
Gilmore was not sure what to do with his trophy fish. The owner of the Ka-Tonka club told Gilmore he could always release the fish and let it get bigger. Gilmore thought that was a good idea.
“I took a picture of me holding the fish and really, that satisfied me. So I turned it loose,” Gilmore said. “It made me happy to release it and it made the owner of Ka-Tonka Lake happy too. I hope someday to meet it again, and it will be even bigger. Then, maybe I’ll get a new record.”
It is still sinking in for Gilmore that he is now a record holder in Missouri. “It’s pretty exciting, something I know I can always have and be able to tell my son or grandson about,” Gilmore said. “I don’t know how long I will keep the record, but that doesn’t really matter. No matter what, I have the certificate that shows I held the record at one time, something I can always look back on.”
More information about Missouri fishing records is available at mdc.mo.gov/fishing/reports/records.