Withlacoochee Suwannee Bass Record Broken On Video

GON freelance writer Craig James raises the Suwannee bass record bar on this south Georgia river.

Craig James | October 29, 2023


On Oct. 21, Craig and Colt James, of Waycross, made a trip to the Withlacoochee River with high hopes of catching a Suwannee bass.

Craig is a freelance writer with GON and regularly covers stories in the southern portion of the state. You might also recognize him from the Outdoor Blast, where he and his wife are in the GON booth.

“Me and my son, Colt, made a trip over to the river on that Saturday morning for an upcoming GON story I’m beginning to work on for the December issue, and we were really hoping we could get a nice Suwannee bass to bite the buzzbait,” said Craig.

The pair launched their tandem kayak as daylight began to break and traveled upriver a short distance before beginning to fish.

“The Withlacoochee has some really good size largemouth, too, and we figured with both of us slinging buzzbaits, we had a good chance to hook into something big,” said Craig.

It didn’t take very long for that prediction to come true. Fifteen minutes into the trip a fish erupted on Colt’s buzzbait, and after a brief struggle a big bass managed to throw the hook.

“When I saw the fish shake it, I knew he was a good one, but it wasn’t until later that night when I looked at the GoPro footage that I realized just how big he truly was. It had to be a 6-lb.-plus largemouth,” said Craig.

The pair continued to fish, beating the banks with their buzzbaits as they went. An hour or so rolled by with little action other than a few small fish.

“I saw a pretty good laydown, and I fired my buzzbait up to it. When I pulled it a few feet away, that’s when he smoked it,” said Craig.

After a tense struggle, Colt was finally able to net the fish for his dad. The fish’s strange appearance made Craig question exactly what species it was.

“It kind of fooled me to begin with. When he first came out of the water, his lateral lines weren’t really visible, and his dorsal fin had some damage to it, so I didn’t really know what to make of it,” said Craig.

After a few minutes of examination and confirming the fish’s jaw didn’t extend past its eye, Craig felt confident he had a Suwannee bass, and a good one at that.

“The fish went 1.94 pounds on my handheld scales, and I knew at that point it had to be a GON river record,” said Craig.

The pair of anglers fished a few more hours, catching a couple of small fish, and before leaving the river Colt managed to catch a nice Suwannee bass of his own.

“Colt caught a dang good one on the buzzbait that went just a couple ounces less than mine. We took a few pictures and turned it loose to fight another day,” said Craig.

Craig kept his bass on ice for the remainder of the weekend and took the fish to the WRD Waycross Fisheries Office for certification on Monday morning.

The fish measured an impressive 14.5 inches and pushed the scales down to 1-lb., 14.08-ozs., beating the old record by more than half a pound.

“I’m excited to have caught it, but there’s a pile more in there like it and a whole lot bigger. I have no doubt this record will fall in the near future. Though it doesn’t receive very much press, the Withlacoochee is definitely one of the best river fisheries in south Georgia. Me and Colt will definitely be back soon. He says now he’s out to catch a river record of his own,” said Craig.

Craig James with the new Suwannee bass river record.


Withlacoochee River Record Fish

See all of GON’s official Georgia Lake & River Records here.

Requirements For Record Fish

• Fish must be caught legally by rod and reel in a manner consistent with state game and fish regulations.

• Catch must be weighed on accurate Georgia DOA certified scales with at least two witnesses present, who must be willing to provide their names and phone numbers so they can be contacted to verify the weighing of the fish.

• Witnesses to the weighing must be at least 18 years old, and they must not be members of the angler’s immediate family nor have a close personal relationship with the angler.

• Catch must be positively identified by qualified DNR personnel.

GON’s records are compiled and maintained by GON, to be awarded at GON’s discretion. Additional steps may be required for record consideration.

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  1. Andrew Curtis on October 29, 2023 at 8:41 pm

    Awesome job, Craig! This record sure goes to someone who puts in the time and effort!

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