By Jim Cross - contributed
CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) - The current Tennessee State record for a largemouth bass was set on October 17th 1954 by James Barnett on Sugar Creek. This record has stood for almost 59 years. There are a few local anglers that believe the next state record bass is currently out there swimming around in Chickamauga Lake.
On March 9th, local bass fishing guide Rogne Brown and his partner, Tim Saylor, weighed in a five-fish limit that weighed that weighed over 44 pounds in a local bass tournament held out of Dayton Boat Dock on Chickamauga Lake.
Less than one week later on March 15th, local angler Chris Coleman caught a giant largemouth bass that weighed a whopping 13.90 pounds on Chickamauga Lake.
Chris said he started his day early fishing with Stan and Terry who had come down from Knoxville to fish Chickamauga Lake with him. Coleman said, "The fishing was really slow through most of the day for us, but we were fishing areas that typically hold bigger fish and not numbers."
This is when it happened. The big fish hit and was coming to the boat when she rolled up and they were able to see that this was a huge fish. This left them in a frantic search for the net, which was without success because it was still in dry storage under tackle and gear. At this point their only option was to lip the fish with their hand to bring it into the boat. Coleman said, "I had to just set down on the deck of the boat for about five minutes to regain my composure once we got the fish in the livewell." The scales in the boat (of course) would not work, but he knew this was the biggest bass he had ever seen. He had caught an 11.4 pound bass just weeks earlier, but this fish was in another league of its own.
Coleman called Soddy Custom Tackle and in response Mark Grimsley and Brad Davis met them at the boat ramp along with several others with certified scales. The fish weighed in at 13.90 pounds missing the state record by less than a pound.
TWRA officer Felix Fugate also came to document the catch. He measured the fish at 25 7/8" long and a girth of 21 1/2" and took a fin sample. Officer Fugate said, "This was the largest bass he had ever documented."
"Chickamauga Lake is kind of the perfect storm right now," says TWRA Biologist Mike Jolley. "The habitat [aquatic vegetation] has done well, and you've got a good forage base. It's a rich environment right now and there's no doubt that the current TWRA stocking program levels out some poor year classes,"
Nobody seems to know what the lake record is for Chickamauga, after all stories and records are researched this fish will most likely be the largest bass ever caught on Lake Chickamauga.
After all of the documentations were made, Chris released the fish back into Chickamauga Lake. Click here to see video of the fish being released back into Chickamauga Lake
Who knows... this fish may be caught and become a new state record in the next couple of years.