There is nothing like catching a giant bass. The thrill of catching a lunker is something that anglers will never forget. I remember my 9-pound, 12-ounce giant just like it was yesterday.
It all happened on the second day of the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Southern Open last year on the Kissimmee Chain. I caught 11 1/2 pounds on the Day One, and I knew I had to catch a big bag on Day Two to move up into the Top 12 to qualify for the Day Three. I fished in Lake Toho on the first day, and I decided to take a gamble and run down to Lake Kissimmee to try a canal where I had caught several nice fish on a chatterbait days before in practice.
It took close to an hour to get down to the canal, and I started out throwing a soft jerkbait and chatterbait. As I did that, I looked in the shallows for spawning fish. I saw a bunch of empty beds, but no bass. As I went further back in the canal, I got discouraged, because I thought I was a day late. I went all the way to the back, and I saw two good ones sitting on a bed. They were bedding deep, and I couldn’t tell exactly how big they were. I thought the female was around 7 pounds.
I backed the boat away and started to fish for them. Only one problem, the bed was under some vines that were growing from the shore out about 15 feet. I would pitch my bait on top of the vines and let it fall downward. Every time I pitched it in there, my bait fell weird and never actually landed on the bed. It would land about 10 feet in front of the bed. This was really frustrating, and I did this for around 15 minutes. The male finally got mad enough to swim off of the bed and eat my plastic craw. I caught him, a 3 1/2-pounder, and hurried and put him in the livewell because I knew that the female would be catchable right after catching the male.
I stood up, looked over to the bed and she was locked down. I was shaking like a leaf and made another pitch. My bait landed on top of the vines and got hung! I jerked really hard hoping that the bait would come off, but it did not. Instead it shook the vines, made a lot of noise, and spooked her off of the bed. I was livid at myself at this point. I thought I had lost my chance. I waited to see if she would come back, and after 10 minutes she came back and locked down on the bed. I made another pitch, and my bait fell through the vines and landed about 10 feet from the bed, and to my surprise she spooked off again.
I waited for another 10 minutes, and she never returned. At this point, I was furious to say the least; I trolled over to the bed and took out my anger on the vines. I told my co-angler that if that bass ever came back, those vines would not be in my way again. I laid down on the front deck and grabbed handfuls of vines and threw them over my shoulders. I bet my partner thought I was crazy. After several minutes, I had cleared all the vines out.
The water had muddied up quite a bit, so I left and came back 30 minutes later. When I returned, the water had cleared but the lunker was nowhere to be found. I waited for 10 minutes, and she never returned. I thought she was gone so I decided to leave. I pulled up the trolling motor, and my partner and I sat down and put on our lifejackets. I was getting ready to turn the key to crank the motor when something told me to take one last look. I stood up and looked over to the bed, and she was back! I couldn’t believe it. I told my partner, “She’s back! She’s back!” I was freaking out. I got back on the front deck and put the trolling motor down and got into position. I made the perfect flip past her, with no vines in my way, and worked it to her. My bait got close to her face, and she spooked away again.
This time I knew she would come back, and I left my bait on her bed and waited for her. She was gone for another 10 minutes; when she returned, I let my bait sit motionless for 30 seconds under her. She didn’t even know it was there. I moved it just a little, and she went nose down and came within a few inches of eating it. When she did this, I got a good look at her and realized she was much bigger than I thought and close to 10 pounds. Then, all of a sudden, she spooked off again.
I couldn’t believe she swam off again. I hoped that she would come back, so I could try the same trick on her again. I waited for 5 minutes, and she came back and locked down. I let my bait sit for a while and then barely shook it. All of a sudden, she snapped! She swam down to the craw and hit it as hard as she could. She almost jerked the rod out of my hand. I set the hook as hard as I could, and she came straight up and jumped. I screamed, “She’s a giant! She’s a 9-pounder! No, a 10-pounder!” as I fought her to the boat.
When I finally got her in the net, I freaked out and screamed at the top of my lungs. I have never been so relieved to catch a bass in my life. We played cat and mouse for over 1 1/2 hours, and I finally won. The 9-pound, 12-ounce beast anchored my heaviest 5-fish limit ever – 30 pounds, 15 ounces. It is one of those epic fish stories that I will tell my grandkids about one day.
Remember to chase your dreams!