Leroy Brown grave.

Statue of Leroy Brown, Famous Fish

Field review by the editors.

Eufaula, Alabama

When Tom Mann caught Leroy Brown with a strawberry jelly worm in 1973, he knew the fish had spunk. He named him after a then-popular song, "Bad, Bad Leroy Brown." Instead of eating Leroy for supper, Tom moved him into the breeding tank at his bait shop. Then Tom cut a hole in the wall of his office, moved the tank against it, and spent hours watching Leroy.

Leroy wasn't a large fish. He lacked distinctive markings. But Tom could instantly pick him out from every other bass in that 38,000-gallon tank. He was aggressive, Tom would say. He had personality. And as Mann's Bait Company grew into Tom Mann's Fish World, and as Eufaula become known as the Bass Fishing Capital of the World, Leroy's stature grew as well.

Leroy lived in that tank for seven years. By the time he died of old age on Aug. 20, 1980, he was the most famous fish in America.

Over 800 people attended Leroy's funeral. Mourners dropped strawberry jelly worms into Leroy's casket, which was a velvet-lined tackle box. The Eufaula High School Band played, "Bad Bad Leroy Brown." His pallbearers were the luminaries of the bass fishing world. Hank Williams Jr. and Jerry Reed sent telegrams of condolences. Alabama's governor declared it an official state day of mourning.

Tom Mann and Leroy Brown at Tom Mann's Fish World, 1999.
Tom Mann and Leroy Brown at Tom Mann's Fish World, 1999.

It poured rain on the day of Leroy's funeral, and he was temporarily interred in Tom's walk-in freezer. It proved to be a mistake. That night, a ghoul broke in and stole Leroy's frozen body -- casket and all.

A stunned bass-fishing world combed the globe for Leroy Brown. Three weeks later, an alert baggage handler at the Tulsa, Oklahoma, airport spied a suspicious fish-sized box (with a nasty smell) and notified the authorities. It was Leroy. Sadly, he was too far gone to return home. The locals threw him away.

Tom Mann never forgot Leroy Brown. He spent $4,000 to have a life-size marble statue made in Leroy's honor, and displayed it at Tom Mann's Fish World until he himself died in 2005. The statue then vanished into private hands -- but not from Eufaula's memory. In October 2016 it was returned to the public, prominently placed downtown, in the median of Broad St. Its inscription reads:


MOST BASS
ARE JUST FISH
BUT LEROY BROWN
WAS SOMETHING SPECIAL

Statue of Leroy Brown, Famous Fish

Address:
E. Broad St., Eufaula, AL
Directions:
Downtown, in the median of E. Broad St., just east of its intersection with US Hwy 431/N. Eufaula Ave.
Admission:
Free
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Nearby Offbeat Places

Manny, 12-Foot-Tall FishManny, 12-Foot-Tall Fish, Eufaula, AL - < 1 mi.
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Gravity HillGravity Hill, Fort Gaines, GA - 14 mi.
In the region:
Museum of Wonder: Drive-Thru, Seale, AL - 30 mi.

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