Montgomery Lake & The World Record Largemouth Bass, Telfair County

Montgomery Lake Telfair County GA George Perry Worlds Largest Largemouth Bass Ocmulgee River Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing South Georgia USA 2015

Montgomery Lake is an oxbow of the Ocmulgee River. A mile or so before you reach the Ocmulgee Water Trail sign for Montgomery Lake & Stave’s Landing, driving north on Georgia Highway 117 from Jacksonville to Lumber City,  there’s a Georgia Historic Marker which gives this beautiful but nondescript place mythical status among sportsmen.

world-record-largemouth-bass-fishing-angling-telfair-county-ga-horse-creek-picture-photo-image-cc-brian-brown-vanishing-south-georgia-usa-2009

Approximately two miles from this spot, on June 2, 1932, George W. Perry, a 19-year old farm boy, caught what was to become America`s most famous fish. The twenty-two pound four ounce Largemouth Bass (Micropterus salmoldes) exceeded the existing record by more than two pounds and has retained the world record for more than fifty years. Perry and his friend, J.E. Page, were fishing in Montgomery Lake, a slough off the Ocmulgee River, not for trophies but to bring food to the table during those days of the Great Depression. The fish was caught on a Creek Chub Perch Scale Wigglefish, Perry`s only lure, and was 32 1/2 inches in length and 28 1/2 inches in girth. The weight and measurements were taken, recorded and notarized in Helena, Georgia and Perry’s only reward was seventy-five dollars in merchandise as first prize in Field and Stream Magazine`s fishing contest. The longstanding record is one of the reasons that the largemouth bass was made Georgia`s Official State Fish. Montgomery Lake is today part of the Department of Natural Resources Horse Creek Wildlife Management Area.

A largemouth weighing in at one more ounce (22.5 lbs.) was caught by Manabu Kurita in Japan in 2009, but since it doesn’t weigh at least two more ounces than the existing world record, it’s considered a tie. Perry’s record is in no danger of being forgotten.

Montgomery Lake Telfair County GA Ocmulgee River Worlds Largest Largemouth Bass Montgomery Lake Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing South Georgia USA 2015

Today was the first time I’d ever laid eyes upon this place and in appearance it was scarcely different from numerous similar places I’ve photographed all over South Georgia in the past seven years. But the history of George Perry and the world record Largemouth Bass gave me pause. It made this place a tangible landmark.

Montgomery Lake Telfair County GA In Ocmulgee RIver WInter High Water World Record Bass Official George Perry Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing South Georgia USA 2015

For a third consecutive winter there’s high water on the Ocmulgee. The fishing must be good. Stave’s Landing is publicly accessible at the end of a dirt road about three miles in length. The road is generally safe for travel, though a four-wheel drive is the best way to go.

Staves Landing Montgomery Lake Ocmulgee River Official World Record Largemouth Bass Telfair County GA Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing South Georgia USA 2015

I look forward to returning in the spring.

Montgomery Lake Telfair County GA Dirt Road Ocmulgee River Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing South Georgia USA 20154

There are many references to George Perry online, but this is one of the best.

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4 Comments

Filed under --TELFAIR COUNTY GA--

4 responses to “Montgomery Lake & The World Record Largemouth Bass, Telfair County

  1. Jeff Liipfert

    Some years ago I went there to look for a geocache hidden by a friend who lived in Telfair County….. a magical place….. while I was looking for the geocache with my back to the water…. something big rolled in the water…..didn’t get to see what it was, but always have to believe there’s got to be another big bass there…. whatever it was, it made my day at Montgomery Lake.

  2. lamar sanders

    I know where this sign is! It is my understanding that in the 1800’s the local men used to camp and ride on huge log rafts, rafting logs from around Jacksonville down to Lumber City where they would be sawed up. I assume they walked back home. I think other people made their living by snagging logs from the river that broke loose from the rafts.

  3. Wendell Theus

    HI BRIAN, GREAT PHOTOS AS ALWAYS. LOOKS LIKE THE RIVER THERE IS MUCH TOO HIGH TO GET TO MONTGOMERY LAKE BY FOOT. I THINK ON ONE OF THE SIDE ROADS OFF THE LANDING ROAD, THERE IS A SMALL SIGN ON A VERY SMALL 2-PATH ROAD– THAT SAYS MONTGOMERY LAKE. SEVERAL YEARS AGO ON A HUNTING SCOUTING TRIP, A FRIEND AND I WALKED INTO THE SWAMP & HAD ALMOST GIVEN UP ON FINDING THE LAKE. WE COULD SEE THE RIVER IN THE DISTANCE BARELY & WE CROSSED OVER WHAT WE TOOK FOR A SLOUGH. WE LOOKED ALL AROUND & HAD GIVEN UP WHEN WE STARTED BACK ACROSS THE NEARLY DRY SLOUGH. THERE POSTED ON THE BANK WAS A FAIRLY LARGE WOODEN SIGN FROM THE STATE OF GEORGIA. IT SAID MUCH WHAT THE MARKER ON HIGHWAY SAID. I WAS REALLY BAFFLED NOT BELIEVING THAT SUCH A LARGE FISH COULD HAVE COME FROM SUCH A SMALL BODY OF WATER! IT LITERALLY WAS LESS THAN 12″ DEEP! THEN I STARTED THINKING THIS WAS ACCOMPLISHED AROUND 70 YEARS EARLIER. THESE RIVERS & ESPECIALLY SURROUNDING SWAMPS CAN & DO CHANGE A LOT OVER YEARS. THUS THIS SMALL OXBOW COULD & MUST HAVE BEEN MUCH LARGER & DEEPER THEN!

    • Jesse M. Bookhardt

      Wendell,
      On a few occasions I have passed Montgomery Lake while boating on the Ocmulgee. When I last saw it many years ago, it was during a dry season. The water was very shallow and the lake appeared much more like a small pond than a lake. However, a body of water does not have to be very deep to attract bass. They feed near banks and shallows.
      The Ocmulgee oxbows are famous for good fishing. As a child, I grew up fishing with my family on the opposite side of the Ocmulgee in Jeff Davis County not far from Montgomery Lake. The place where we always had great luck was called the “Old River” for obvious reasons. It was an oxbow that once was the main course of the beautiful river. During the spring, it received fresh water from the Ocmulgee that provided ideal habitat for fish such as Large Mouth Bass, Redbreast, Stump Knocker, Red Fin Pike, and Warmouth to breed. Bluegills were another fish that was plentiful.
      Today the Old River is mostly dry and has been reclaimed by willows, and other low land plants. The dynamic ever changing river keeps moving its course. These areas along the river were once occupied during pioneer days by the Ashley and Manning families.
      South Georgia surely has a treasure in its many big wonderful rivers such as the Ocmulgee, Oconee, and the Altamaha. These rivers played a very important role in the early history of Georgia and the United States. For centuries, they were the main means of transportation in the area, except travel on foot. In very early days, the Altamaha served as the International boundary between the Spanish in Florida and the English in the Carolinas. At the time, England, Spain, and France contested the ownership of the area. In part, Georgia was created to bolster England’s claim to these southern lands, and to buffer her other colonies further north against Spain and France.
      It is my sincere hope that Georgians will do all they can to keep these rivers clean, and available to the common citizen. Maybe one day a new world record fish will be caught on the backwaters of one of these South Georgia rivers.
      Jesse M. Bookhardt

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