Bad Leroy Brown: The fish back home

Published: Oct. 7, 2016 at 4:19 PM CDT|Updated: Oct. 7, 2016 at 5:15 PM CDT
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(Source: WSFA 12 News)
(Source: WSFA 12 News)

EUFAULA, AL (WSFA) - Maybe you remember the song. It was released in 1973 and called "Bad, Bad, Leroy Brown" by Jim Croce. The song was about a big tough man. It was not about a fish. But don't tell that to folks in Eufaula, Alabama. If you ask them about Leroy

Brown most folks in Barbour County will tell you it was a 6-pound bass.

"He was fishing one day and caught this bass," said Sharon Dixon. Her father caught the fish. "He was real feisty, so he took him home and put him in our pond."

It wasn't just any fisherman who snagged Leroy out of Lake Eufaula. It was bass fishing pioneer Tom Mann. He made his living coming up with unique fishing lures and promoting bass fishing. He even had a shop in Eufaula called Fish World.

That's where the legend of Leroy began. Mann did a lot of testing for his fishing products in a huge fish tank at Fish World and eventually Leroy was dumped in there with all the other fish.

"There were some big fish in that tank," said Eufaula mayor Jack Tibbs. "There were some big gar and catfish but Leroy was the boss of that tank."

"Leroy was always the Romeo of the tank," said Dixon. "He was always the boyfriend."

"At the time Jim Croce had a song called Leroy Brown," said Tibbs. "Tom named that bass Leroy because he was the baddest bass in the tank."

So when people came to Fish World everyone wanted to see the bass that ruled the tank, Leroy Brown. Eventually, Leroy died, but it was likely a little different from your average fish death. He had his own funeral.

"Over 1,200 people showed up for that funeral," said Dixon. "The Eufaula high school band was there and played "Bad, Bad, Leroy Brown."

I know it was just a fish but the legend of Leroy doesn't stop there. They built a monument to honor the town's favorite fish. It sat in Eufaula for years until owner Tom Mann passed away. The family then let another fishing pioneer Ray Scott keep the monument at his lake in Pintlala.

Well, recently the folks in Eufaula asked if they could have ol' Leroy back. They got the deal worked out and now the monument of a 6-pound bass is now back in Eufaula.

"It's coming home and it's part of our history," said Tibbs. "We're real excited about it."

"It just thrill us to death to have Leroy back in town with us," said Dixon. "For dad, that was his pet. It was like a dog or a cat to some people. Leroy was his most favorite special pet ever."

Crews are working on a site on Main St. to give Leroy his permanent home. It should be ready to go by October 13th for a big ceremony.

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