Idaho’s biggest largemouth bass, caught by Mrs. M. W. Taylor (aka Mary Alice Hurt Taylor), is first documented in the March 1949 issue of Field & Stream showing the national contest winners.


Mysterious State Record Largemouth Vindicated on 75th Anniversary

This article was written by Idaho sporfishing program coordinator Martin Koenig and first appeared on the Idaho Fish & Game website.

New Details and the Legacy of the Lady That Landed It

Anyone that has looked over Idaho’s list of state record fish has likely noticed the issue with the largemouth bass from Anderson Lake. The 10-pound, 15-ounce, fish has appeared on the list with no length or girth measurements. The angler’s name of “Mrs. W. M. Taylor” is a bit odd, and there isn’t even a date of catch, making it look downright suspicious. Despite these oddities, the lunker bass with scant information has stood as the record for over 60 years … until now. Thanks to a team of big bass enthusiasts who uncovered the history of this record, we have new details about this controversial entry on Idaho’s record fish list.

Validation 75 Years Later 

Last week, I was contacted by Ken Duke — a longtime outdoor writer and serious bass fishing enthusiast. Add “big bass historian” to that list of credentials too. Ken and his team at the The Big Bass Podcast took a deep dive into this incomplete record and found a truly interesting story. Check out the details in their podcast episode, “Mystery, Murder, and a State Record.”

It turns out that the “Mrs. W. M. Taylor” was in fact her husband’s name, a dentist in Spokane, Washington, where the family lived. Listing the record using her married (husband’s) name may have been the tradition for that era, but it made rectifying the records a bit more difficult. 

Mary Taylor record bass; Field and Stream 1949
Idaho’s biggest largemouth bass caught by Mrs. M. W. Taylor (aka Mary Alice Hurt Taylor) is first documented in the March 1949 issue of Field & Stream showing the national contest winners. Photo courtesy of Ken Duke.

After some sleuthing through newspaper records and archives, Ken discovered the angler’s actual name was Mary Alice Hurt Taylor. According to the 1949 Field & Stream magazine contest records, Mary Taylor caught the huge largemouth on South Bend rod, using a Shakespeare reel, Ashaway line and a Pflueger “Pal-O-Mine” lure (a classic wooden crankbait with a metal bill and treble hooks).  Mary would have been 63 years old when she caught the big bass on October 22, 1948. It weighed in at 10 pounds, 15 ounces, and took second place in the “Northern Division” of the national contest. At that time, Field and Stream contests required documentation of the fish weighed on a certified scale along with witnesses, making this previously doubtful record very much legitimate.

Why the Missing Details?

I did some historical sleuthing of my own to understand why the details had been missing for so long. I began digging through old issues of Fish & Game’s then magazine, the Idaho Wildlife Review. It turns out, the first official “Idaho Record Fish” list wasn’t published until the 1959 September/October issue of the Idaho Wildlife Review. At that time, Fish & Game staff only knew of a handful of verifiable big fish. In that article, they describe how they were just starting the first official list. To help fill out the list, they requested anglers to send in proof of their biggest catch, and they would update the list accordingly.

List of record fish from Idaho 1962
Idaho Fish & Game didn’t start keeping an official list of ‘state record’ fish until 1959, over 10 years after this record bass was caught. This might help explain the lack of details in the original listing, which persisted until 2023.

When the list first came out in 1959, the biggest largemouth bass was listed at 9 pounds, 15 ounces, caught by S. Simenson from Payette Slough in 1949. However, word of the new Idaho state record list must have been spreading. By the January/February issue of 1962, the list first shows Mrs. M. W. Taylor with 10 pounds, 15 ounces, from Anderson Lake, where it has stood ever since.

At that time, documentation was likely hard to come by for a fish that had been caught 13 years prior. The 1962 article mentions that, “This fish had been caught sometime between 1941 and 1951 … obtained from records of the Field & Stream fishing contest.” It’s hard to say why the date of the catch and other details weren’t available. Regardless, Idaho Fish & Game has kept the record on the books despite the scarcity of information.

A Trophy Track Record

Fishing may not have been popular recreation for women of her day, which makes Mary’s story more interesting. Mary Taylor wasn’t just a casual angler that happened to get lucky one fall day on Anderson Lake. In fact, she had a previous track record as a trophy bass angler. Only four years prior, she took sixth place in the 1944 Field & Stream contest with a 9-pound, 11-ounce, largemouth bass caught Oct. 21 from the same lake!  Anderson Lake — one of the chain lakes along Lake Coeur d’Alene — is only a few miles from Cave Lake, the home of the current catch-and-release state record Largemouth bass. Mary’s previous documented trophy bass only adds more credibility to her long-standing Idaho record.

Thanks to Ken Duke, Nathan Benson, and Terry Battisti of The Big Bass Podcast for researching this story and providing the details that blew the dust off this state record and set it straight. I’m certain Mary Alice Hurt Taylor would be happy to see her own name finally on the list. On the 75th anniversary of Mary’s record catch, we have updated the Certified Weight State Record Fish list to reflect all the details of Idaho’s biggest bass. I just wish it hadn’t taken so long.

These days, Idaho’s list of record fish is updated quickly with news of a record catch. While the printed version appears in the annual seasons and rules booklet, the online list from the state record fish page is the most current list. Record applications and supporting evidence are closely verified to help keep the program as legitimate as possible. While some records have stood for decades, others are broken often, especially “catch-and-release” records, which has contributed to the program’s popularity with anglers.