Trying to get my arms around the big bass catch made at Lake Biwa in Japan earlier this year has been difficult. Lots of varied sources has one hopping all over the Internet, and then trying to guess which accounts were the most accurate.

Since the IGFA has not yet made a determination (one account says there has been no record submission) and questions have arisen as to whether the fish was caught from a “closed area,” I got help from Matt Paino at Optimum Baits who has a strong company/family connection with Japan. Matt was able to connect me with Kazumura Okumura, the Deps owner, lure designer and pro angler for Deps, who was present for the interviews with Manabu Kurita, July 2. Kurita is the one who weighed in the 22-pound, 5-0unce bass, a potential new world record (or tie for the record according to the International Game Fish Association).

Matt got my questions translated, forwarded, returned and translated back into English. Some of this you may have heard. Maybe some you haven’t. I have attempted to contact the water department, as suggested by Mr. Okumura, however I have not heard back as yet. Here are the questions and answers from that interview:

KGF–Closed areas/Lake Biwa: In California reservoirs there are closed areas primarily for water quality concerns or safety. On occasion there are closed areas for spawn protection. But in some cases, it is allowed to cast into closed areas as long as the boat does not go into the closed zone. Anything special about the closed areas at Lake Biwa?

OKUMURA–For the most part, bass fisherman in Japan refer to the tournament rules when fishing throughout Japan. The tournament rules state that for safety purposes the Biwako Ohashi (Lake Biwa bridge), and the Konoe Bridge are restricted from fishing. This is to avoid trouble with the commercial fisherman who have their nets out in these areas. Also areas around marina’s, piers, or floating docks set by Shiga Prefecture are forbidden for fishing.

Recently because the general consensus in Japan is to eradicate the bass, the rules are not enforced as strictly as they should. The rules are unclear now. I think its best to contact Shiga Fisheries Division to understand complete rules.

KGF— Does Lake Biwa have regular public access?

OKUMURA–Biwako is open to the public year round 24 hours per day. A fishing license is not required.

KGF— I have heard the lake also has salmon or some salmonids. Are these thought to help the bass grow to such a large size?

OKUMURA–There is trout called Biwako Masu. The spawning period is from October through November where they head upriver. Besides this time frame, they are found in the depths of 20 meters (60 feet) to 50 meters (150 feet). The Masu are not considered to be a factor in helping the bass grow large at Lake Biwa. Rather the staple forage for assisting the bass grow large are bluegill, crawfish, Ayu and Ketabasu. (The last two are native Japanese baitfish. The Ayu are commercially fished and because the population of these baitfish are being depleted, the bass get a bad rap throughout Japan).

KGF–What weighing system was used for the pending record bass? Did the Mr. Kurita have to travel far to get to a certified scale?

OKUMURA— He traveled with the fish from Biwako Ohashi ( Lake Biwa Bridge) to the closest Marina called Biwako Marine. It is within 5 minutes running time. He used the certified scale that is at the Marina.

KGF–As one rumored to be a big bass specialist, do we know the weights of any of his (Kurita’s) other big fish?

OKUMURA–Mr. Kurita caught a monster bass last April (2008). It was 8,480 grams (18.5 pounds) and 70 cm long. ( In Japan length in cm is often the determining factor if it is a fine catch or not. They have 50 cm, 60 cm classification. Anything over 60cm is usually a 10-pounder) This fish was caught on a 12-inch Swimbait called “Mother.”

KGF–How is or how would a record bass catch made on live bait be viewed in Japan compared to a record catch made on an artificial bait or lure?

OKUMURA–It is not commonly found to use live bait for bass fishing throughout Japan. There have been discussions both positive and negative regarding the catch and live bait. Positive that we now have proof that they exist and it’s an incredible catch no matter what. Negative that there is little sport involved.


9 Responses to “A second look: Japanese world record bass”

[…] A second look: Japanese world record bass […]

Interesting read George. Your questions and those answers seem to bring up more questions though. What are the real rules of closed area? What closed area was the fish caught in? Is he submitting this for W.R. Status? Why are the bass fishermen questioning his catch on live bait?

Gosh, George: So if the bass was caught by that bridge where the waters are restricted, what’s next? Hope you get a reply from the fisheries folks.

I have referred to the Japanese catch in the Afterword of my book, Remembering George W. Perry, which is due to be published by The Whitefish Press in Cincinnati, Ohio sometime in October.

It would be nice to include the very latest information on the fish in that Afterword. The publisher also is trying to get permission to use a photo of the fish. I do so much appreciate your help and would like to have your permission to use excerpts on what you’ve been able to learn.

chum it!

by George Kramer

Ray: you are quite right–new questions now linger. But I asked what I wanted to know at the time and since there is quite a process to turn the conversation back (my Japanese limited to counting to four) I’m going to have to settle for this right now. As for the live bait questioning: don’t you remember the grousing about crawdads and big bass at Castaic during the 1990’s? I don’t know Kurita’s intentions regarding record submission. Take a look at the latest comment link: “Japan Speaks Out….” Someone has been logging pertinent stories on the catch.

by George Kramer

Of course, use anything of mine, Mr. Babb. If you would attribute such, that would be great. Photos, except for what might be garnered from the Internet, are something I don’t have access to.
I think your new book will be a great addition to the whole of bass fishing fact and lore.

Congratulations to Manabu Kurita. He is a true trophy hunter dedicated to the pursuit of world record bass like no other. I am proud to say that in the past year he has become one of my closest friends, Another person who helps him a great deal but receives no real credit is Reika Ishaguro who designs his website, communicates his thoughts and wishes to me and others, and also is a great angler in her own right. Manabu and Reika are good friends and you can talk with both of them at my website at World Record Trophy Bass Fishing
Tight lines, and best of luck to all trophy hunters the world over on the next world record. Steve Owner

I come across your website by searching, i just want to say i keep it on my bookmarks, thank you.

Of course, use anything of mine, Mr. Babb. If you would attribute such, that would be great. Photos, except for what might be garnered from the Internet, are something I don’t have access to.
I think your new book will be a great addition to the whole of bass fishing fact and lore.