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Details Behind a Mysterious Idaho Bass Record Finally Come to Light

Big bass slayer Mary Taylor's largemouth bass record still stands 75 years later. It's about time she got the recognition she deserves
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details mysterious idaho bass record
A photo of the 1949 issue of Field and Stream that featured the state-record largemouth. Courtesy Ken Duke / IDFG

A mysterious Idaho fishing record has been authenticated, thanks to some sleuthing by podcasters Ken Duke and Terry Battisti and additional research by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game. Some details behind the 75-year-old largemouth bass record have finally come to light, including the year the lunker was landed and the name of the woman who caught it.

A press release from IDFG gives the basics behind the vindicated bass record, but most of the credit for the discovery goes to Duke and Battisti. The two anglers dove deep into the history behind the record in a recent episode of The Big Bass Podcast.

They were drawn to the mysterious record because of the scant details surrounding it. The 10-pound 15-ounce largemouth has been on Idaho’s list of state-record fish for decades. However, aside from the location where it was caught, Anderson Lake, the only other information about it was the record holder’s unusual name.

“The fish has appeared on the list with no length or girth measurements,” IDFG explains in the press release. “The angler’s name of ‘Mrs. W. M. Taylor’ is a bit odd, and there isn’t even a date of catch, making it downright suspicious.”

So, Duke read through some old newspapers and magazines, where he found the first-ever documentation of the record largemouth. It was in a 1949 issue of Field and Stream that featured the winners of a national fishing contest the magazine was sponsoring. The publication listed the 10 lb. 15 oz. fish as being caught by Mrs. W. M. Taylor, which meant the angler’s real identity remained a mystery.

mysterious idaho largemouth bass record
Details were lacking from the Idaho largemouth bass record, until two podcasters started investigating. IDFG

Duke dug a little deeper and found that “W. M. Taylor” actually referred to the angler’s husband, which harkens back to the traditions of that era. He learned that Taylor was a dentist based in Spokane, Washington, and that his wife’s name was Mary Alice Hurt Taylor. With the biggest piece of the piscatorial puzzle solved, other details fell into place.

“According to the 1949 Field and Stream magazine contest records, Mary Taylor caught the huge largemouth on a South Bend Rod, using a Shakespeare reel, Ashaway line, and a Pflueger “Pal-O-Mine” lure,” IDFG says. “Mary would have been 63 years old when she caught the big bass on October 22, 1948.”

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The riddle unraveled even further as the state agency learned that Taylor wasn’t just a casual angler who occasionally fished with her husband. The woman had a track record as a big bass slayer. Four years before she landed the state-record bucketmouth, she took sixth place in another Field and Stream contest with a 9-pound 11-ounce largemouth. That fish was also caught from Anderson Lake.

IDFG says it has now updated its list of certified weight records to reflect these new details. Most importantly, Taylor’s real name—and not her husband’s—will now live on in Idaho’s record book.