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New Largemouth Bass Fishing Record Confirmed by TWRA

Friday, February 20, 2015 | 07:34am

NASHVILLE --- The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency has confirmed that a new state record for a largemouth bass has been established, breaking the previous mark which was set more than 60 years ago.

The new state record fish weighs in at 15 pounds, 3 ounces. Friday, Feb. 13 proved to be a very lucky and history-making day for angler and new record holder Gabe Keen who made the catch on Chickamauga Reservoir.

The new mark surpasses the record which had stood since Oct. 17, 1954.  James "Logue" Barnett had the previous long-standing mark of 14 pounds, 8 ounces with his fish caught on Sugar Creek in Lawrence County.

The 28-year old Keen made his record haul on an umbrella rig made by Custom Rods of LaFallotte. He was using a 20-pound Viscious test line on an Abugarcia rod.

A resident of Caryville and world history/geography teacher at Campbell County High School he also serves as the school’s bass fishing team’s coach. Keen had been fishing on Chickamauga Lake on Thursday and Friday in preparation for a bass fishing tournament on Saturday. He made the catch at 11:45 a.m. in the lower portion of the lake near Chester Frost Park  and knew right away he had something special in his boat.

“When it hit the bottom of the boat I knew it was a really big fish and when I weighed it and saw it was 15 pounds, 3 ounces I was in disbelief,” Keen said. “I didn’t know the record, but knew it had to be close.”

After calling the TWRA, Keen was advised that the fish had to be weighed on a certified scale. He took the fish to a grocery store and had it weighed on a certified scale, where it officially weighed 15 pounds, 3.2 ounces. On Saturday, he met with TWRA Region III Fisheries Biologist Mike Jolley and several members of the Region III reservoir crew at TWRA’s Hiwassee Refuge near Birchwood.  A thorough evaluation of the fish was made by TWRA staff.  TWRA staff also conducted an interview with Keen regarding the catch. Keen presented TWRA staff with the Tennessee Record Fish application.

“I never dreamed I would catch a fish that would become a state record,” Keen said. “Chickamauga is an amazing lake to begin with, but I give a lot of the credit to the TWRA and its stocking program.”

Bobby Wilson, Fisheries Division chief, called the catch a highlight in his career which has spanned 35 years with the TWRA. “Largemouth bass are the most sought-after species in the state and to break a record which has stood so long for such a popular species is pretty incredible.”

           The criteria to be considered for a state record fish along with instructions and state records are in the annual TWRA Tennessee Fishing Guide. The 2015-16 guide will be available in March. Information is also available on the TWRA website at   by clicking on “Fishing” located on the left side of the home page.


Photo caption:

Gabe Keen holds his new state record bass caught on Chickamauga Lake on Feb 13. The record fish broke the previous mark which stood for more than 60 years.

(Click on image to view larger)

Photo by and courtesy of Richard Simms, Scenic City Fishing Charters.

To view a feature story on Gabe Keen and his record catch written by veteran outdoors writer and Tennessee Wildlife contributor, Larry Woody, click here.

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