"World Record Smallmouth"
By: Jim Dicken
David Hayes, on a sunny afternoon in July of 1955,
caught the biggest smallmouth bass to ever be brought in for
weighing in the history of fishing records. While trolling a
Model 300 Bomber along a stretch of
Dale Hollow Lake he caught a smallmouth bass for the history
books. His catch obliterated a record that was in the high 8
pound range and even today outweighs its nearest competitor by
over a pound. All this while trolling for Walleye.
The International Game Fish Association has an 11 pound 15 ounce
problem it wishes would go away. Approximately 6 years ago the
Association, which keeps all of the records on fishing,
there existed an affidavit indicating that the World Record
Smallmouth bass had been salted (weight added). The affidavit
drawn up by one John Barlow indicated that Mr. Barlow had
inserted weights in the fish without the knowledge of David
Hayes. The IGFA removed the record from the books. The Kentucky
Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Fishing Hall of Fame
followed suit in short order removing the fish from their
Thanks to hard work and the determination to get the truth about
the biggest smallmouth ever caught, Larry Self, a journalist
from Tennessee, and Ron Fox of the Tennessee Wildlife Resources
Agency, were on the
verge of getting the record restored. So far the Freshwater Hall
of Fame has reinstated the record and Kentucky is considering.
The State of Tennessee never wavered on the record. Upon finally
getting a look at
the affidavit that Mr. Barlow had taken out, they discovered it
was not signed by Mr. Barlow, and it was not signed or notarized
by the clerk of the court. Further investigation also brought
up problems with the
affidavit. Ira Barlow, the brother of John Barlow (who since
died), took a lie detector test and passed, stating that his
brother, John, was nowhere near the Cedar Hill Dock when the
fish was weighed and certified by Tennessee authorities.
He went on to say that the reason for the deposition was that
Mr. Barlow had argued with the Cedar Hill Dock management and
was no longer welcome there.
Other problems with the salting have come up. Granville "Lightnin"
Madison was at Wisdom Dock on that fateful day. Turns out David
Hayes took the fish to Wisdom first as it was closest to the
spot where he caught the fish. The fish was weighed in front of
Lightnin and Oral Burtram, a Kentucky Water Police Officer. In a
statement made in front of witnesses, Mr. Madison not only
recalled the weight of the fish, but the correct approximate
time of the weigh in at Wisdom Dock. I have a copy of the signed
statement which I gave to the State of Kentucky.
Officer Burtram has died, but notes he left, according to
sources, indicate that he witnessed the weigh in of an 11 pound
15 ounce smallmouth bass.
Thus the fish was weighed on an uncertified scale at Wisdom Dock
before the official weigh in at Cedar Hill (which had a
certified scale). It weighed the same as the official weight
from the scale at Cedar Hill Dock. Sort of hard to happen if 3
pounds of weight was added. Not to mention that the weights were
identical WITH added weight?
So far the Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame has reinstated the
David Hayes smallmouth to its rightful place. The state of
Tennessee never waivered in its support of the record. It has
remained the State Record.
The IGFA has failed so far to do so, but they are still being
informed of all of the evidence.
The IGFA notified Ron Fox in November that it is reopening the
investigation into the Smallmouth Bass Record. Watch these pages
further update of the David Hayes smallmouth controversy.
(IN 2003 the IGFA refused to accept the evidence
presented to them and refused to recognize the Hayes fish as the
A funny thing happened on the way to the trash bin
with this record. Forty years ago Field and Stream, which
originally kept the All Tackle World Records information, heard
about the Barlow affidavit in the 50ís and sent a reporter to
investigate. He determined from interviews that the information
included in the affidavit was false and that no weight had been
added to the fish. In the transfer of records and information to
the IGFA, the report was apparently lost....OOPS!
(Update: 2004 The IGFA says it will not reopen the
case under any circumstances. It does not recognize any fish
that there is any controversy over) To me this means that if we
dont like a record all we have to do is say it
was salted... What is to stop someone from doing this to any
Author / Owner Fishing Guides Home
(Update: 2005 After an Article in Bassmaster
Magazine took the IGFA to task. The Article was by Ken Duke of
Some of the original confusion was created by this Article by Don
Click Here to Read
the article which incorrectly states that the Barlow Affidavit was
signed by a judge. I have seen original copies of the affidavit. It was
not signed by either a judge or the clerk of the court or by John
Barlow. It was a typed
affidavit with NO SIGNATURES.
Other evidence of Fraud in the Barlow Affidavit...
Employees of Center Hill Dock recall that the fish was brought
immediately to the scales. Once weighed it was placed in a freezer on
the dock. An employee, interviewed by Ron Fox of TWRA stated that he
slept on the freezer and never left it until the fish was weighed.
There was at no time an opportunity to "salt" the fish..
Even worse is the ridicule I have encountered towards David Hayes and
his record. Many people are under the impression that Mr. Hayes had
something to do with the addition of the weight. In the affidavit of Mr.
Barlow, it clearly states that the weight was added as a "JOKE" and
without the knowledge of Mr. Hayes. Worse yet.. no weight was found in
the fish by the taxidermist who did the Taxidermy on the Hayes
Smallmouth. Mr. Barlow at no time explains how he removed the weight
without the knowledge of the parties concerned in the unsigned
Affidavit. Experts on Photo Analysis of fish and records have clearly
stated that the fish weighed AT LEAST 10 pounds and most likely weighed
more... If weight had been added the fish would have weighed over 13
If you believe like I do that David Hayes Record was unjustly
removed, please contact the IGFA and the Kentucky Department of Fish and
Ask them to recognize the TRUE World Record Smallmouth.
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