Tennessee Teacher Breaks State’s 60-year-old Largemouth Bass Record

   02.18.15

On Saturday the Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency officially recognized Gabe Keen’s 15.2-pound largemouth bass as the new state record. The massive fish shattered a record set by a 14-pound, eight-ounce fish caught by James Barnett all the way back in 1954. Keen, a high school teacher who also coaches bass fishing in his spare time, said that he never expected to nab a state record during what he thought was simply practice.

“I was sitting in about 20 feet of water just slow rolling it off a bank,” Keen told WTVC, who said that landing the bass did not take as long as such a massive fish deserved. “He came in pretty good at first and then after two little surges he came right on into the boat, and took on last little tail flip at the boat and I got him in.”

Some anglers may have reservations about fishing on Friday the 13th, but not Keen. The fishing coach was actually practicing for a weekend bass tournament when he caught the largemouth last Friday in Chickamauga Lake. While Keen would have certainly loved to have caught the massive 15-pounder during the tournament itself—which offered a $25,000 prize for anyone who broke the state’s largemouth record—the angler said he is more than happy with his catch.

“For something like this to happen to me, it’s still sinking in,” Keen shared in an interview. “But I’m tickled. I couldn’t be happier.”

You can listen in on an interview with Keen below:

Wildlife officials are also pleased with the success of largemouth bass in Chickamauga Reservoir. The fish were first introduced into the reservoir in 2000 as a test case, and by 2011, anglers were already reporting massive bass in the water. In 2014, Tennessee biologists decided the expand the program to other waterways throughout the state.

“These new stockings are experimental and it will take time to evaluate whether they will be successful,” the agency stated on its website, adding that it will take about eight to 10 years before experts can see results from the new stockings.

Edit 2-19: Updated article with proper image credit.

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