Word of a giant northern largemouth spread like wildfire. Mark Britenbaugh of Gettysburg, Pa. had received confirmation that his submission for a New York state record would stand, surpassing the old mark by over a pound. The behemoth was caught at Cayuga Lake, now regarded as one of the best northern fisheries of all time, capable of cracking out record bags of smallmouth and largemouth unlike any seen in the region.

Immediately, I had to reflect on the recent run of lunkers. Monsters in Texas gave way to a world-class smallmouth in Ontario, when Greg Gallagher smashed a 70-year old record with his 10-pound bronzeback in 2022.

Nearly all of these catches were the result of forward-facing sonar, whether viewing the fish directly as Gallagher did, or finding the perfect location for a big bass like Britenbaugh. It makes me wonder, are any records safe?

We’ve transitioned into a new world of fishing, thanks to sonar allowing us to see all around the boat and present casts to the best spots. Gone is the guesswork. What’s left is unparalleled efficiency and precision the likes of which bass fishing, and bass, have never seen.

Opponents to the technology will place an asterisk next to the newest records. Those established with the assistance of FFS, the thought goes, will be viewed as lesser accomplishments.

This is nonsense. The same argument could have been made with the inception of side-imaging technology, or any sonar, for that matter. The argument against technology can never be supported in terms of record fish. There has always been technology.

So what are we up against? In this time of underwater viewing, we continuously see numbers that roll the eyes of old-school guys like me. Take a recent event at Lake St. Clair, for instance. After the second day of competition, anglers catching 20-pound averages found themselves near the bottom of the standings. I remember when 20 pounds was the mark to aim for.

The BPT event at Toledo Bend earlier this year was another reminder. There, Dustin Connell posted over 100 pounds of bass the final day, and over 300 for the tournament. Think about that, 300-pounds of bass over the course of four days, one of which he laid up.

What does the future hold?

We’ve seen, and will continue to see, state records fall in places with proactive management. Texas immediately comes to mind as a location where big bass rank high on the list of priorities. We’ve seen the O.H. Ivie monsters, more are still to come. And what about Chickamauga? Have we seen the best of the Tennessee contingent?

I hate to imagine what things would have been like if FFS was available during the California Gold Rush of big-bass fishing. Without question, the world record would have been broken. Technology, combined with the relentless pursuit of the West Coast gurus, would have resulted in a 23-plus hitting the sales from Casitas or Castaic. It still would have counted.

Does O.H. Ivie have potential to crank out such a bass? Currently, the lake holds the No. 7 and No. 8 spots on the Texas list with fish surpassing 17 pounds. That’s a far cry from a 20-plus. But take into consideration that 2022 and 2023 were the catch dates. Factor in a few more years and a few more pounds, and that fish may be on the horizon.

In the future, though, I think our best chance for a truly mammoth record will come in the form of a brown bass. Since the beginning of open-water fishing on the Great Lakes, anglers have wondered just what lies in the abyss. Now they can easily find out. Targeting suspended fish, or roamers, has never been feasible until now. And it’s becoming more apparent that the biggest smallmouth do, in fact, spend considerable time out away from obvious structure.

The all-tackle world record smallmouth bass is listed at 11-15 and has been the subject of dispute for years. Many believe this fish wasn’t properly scrutinized when caught in 1955, and the world record should be a 10 1/2-pound fish. Gallagher’s recent smallie, then, would have been dangerously close to that number.

In any case, the 11-15 is what anglers are chasing, and that will likely be the case until it’s broken. Does a 12-pound smallmouth bass exist in America today?

If the recent 12-pound Cayuga largemouth is any indication, the answer is likely yes. The fact remains that we’re seeing far larger fish being caught than anytime in recent history, thanks, in large part, to technological advancements. We’re also seeing larger bass due to better management and environmental factors we’re yet to fully understand.

I’ll make a bold prediction: The all-tackle, world-record smallmouth bass will be caught by 2030. If not, we will at least see a handful of bass eclipsing 10 pounds.

Make you want to get out there? Me, too. Thanks to Britenbaugh’s recent reminder, in many places, today is the best time in history to make the catch of a lifetime.

(Joe Balog is the often-outspoken owner of Millennium Promotions, Inc., an agency operating in the fishing and hunting industries. A former Bassmaster Open and EverStart Championship winner, he's best known for his big-water innovations and hardcore fishing style. He's a popular seminar speaker, product designer and author, and is considered one of the most influential smallmouth fishermen of modern times.)