Montana Fisherman Reels in Enormous Largemouth Bass, Snaps 12-Year Record

by Jennifer Shea

Talk about beginner’s luck. A novice angler in Montana broke a 12-year record when he caught his first largemouth bass last Saturday on a trip to Lake Elmo.

The angler, Brandon Wright, used a worm on a hook to reel in the bass, according to Fox News. The fish is a 22.5-inch monster weighing in at 9.575 pounds.

Darin Williams set the previous record in 2009. He caught an 8.8-pound bass in Noxon Rapids Reservoir, the Billings Gazette reports. 

Wright plans to have a taxidermist mount the record-breaking fish. The Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Department announced the new record on Facebook, saying the novice angler’s name would go into the record books.

Montana Fisherman Usually Likes to Fly Fish

Wright told the Billings Gazette he usually likes to fly fish. But on Saturday, the Billings resident decided to fish at Lake Elmo instead. He got there a little after 10 a.m., baited his size 10 Eagle Claw hook with a worm, and then sat back to watch Tik Tok videos on his phone.

Soon enough – about 15 minutes in – he felt a tug on the line and he managed to reel the fish in. Next, Wright contacted Fish, Wildlife and Parks officials. And then he weighed the fish on a certified scale at Albertson’s grocery store in Billings Heights.

Montanans who think they have caught a record fish should be careful to keep the fish fresh on ice, but not freeze it. They should document the length and girth of the fish with photographs. And they should reach out to state officials, as Wright did, weigh the fish on a certified scale and then hold on to the certificate from the scale.

Fish, Wildlife and Parks Officials Expect Record Numbers in 2021

Anglers aren’t the only ones enjoying the great outdoors. In 2020, Montana state parks saw more than 3.4 million visitors, a 29% increase over the previous year. And as KPAX reports, park officials are bracing themselves for another record-setting onslaught this summer.

“Based on flights coming in from out of state, just the interest we’re hearing from our local lodging establishments it sounds like for sure we’re going to have a busy summer with a lot of people,” Fish, Wildlife and Parks spokesman Dillon Tabish told KPAX.

Officials are urging visitors to keep the parks clean and safe by picking up garbage, leaving wildlife alone and tending to campfires carefully. Tabish said it would be a shame if more visitors meant more wildfires, which ruin the outdoor experience for everyone.