PARIS, Tenn. — Christmas came more than six months early for Kelly Jordon and several other Elite pros during Day Two of the Tennessee Triumph.
That Christmas was wrapped up in a 10-pound, 1-ounce largemouth that allowed Jordon to weigh in the largest sack of the event at 26-12 and move into second place. But the interesting impact is not what that 10-pound bass did to the leaderboard, but the impact it had on the other Elite anglers.
"A 10-pound bass is a magnificent creature,'' Jordon said. "That's what we are all fishing for."
Unofficially, that is the largest bass weighed in at an Elite event on Kentucky Lake. So in some forms it was unexpected. In another form it provided hope for others who need a similar fish to make a charge in an event that Kevin VanDam seems to have a firm grasp on.
But none of that explained the reactions of the nation's hardest-core of anglers when the 10-pound bass arrived at the weigh-in tank.
"I was watching the expressions on their faces as they walked up to the fish,'' said Louie Stout, senior writer for Bassmaster Magazine and a reporter for hundreds of Bassmaster events. "Their faces would just light up like a kid at Christmas time and they would break out into this big old grin.
"They were all happy for Kelly, but really they were marveling at the size of that fish."
Jordon caught the fish on a 12-inch plastic worm in a scenario that could have easily turned into the one that got away. Jordon was targeting isolated stumps on ledges. He had already boated a 5-pound plus largemouth when he pulled his worm over a stump and felt what he said was "an impressive thump."
"I set the hook and immediately it was hung up, the line had probably gone right into a crack,'' Jordon said. "I just held it. I was saying 'come on, come on.' I knew the fish was there and my Marshal thought I was just hung up. But I just stayed with it.
"All of the sudden a 10-pounder jumped straight out of the water. It went straight up. If it had gone to one side or the other it would have snapped the line just like that."
The fish, though, made it to the boat and then the weigh-in line, where the real spectacle began. Jordon was babying the fish, waiting for his time to weigh in, so he had it outside his weigh-in bag and swimming virtually freely in the tank.
And as the top anglers in the world made their way to the line of tanks, most of them would simply forget their catch and insist on getting closer to the monster.
"Boyd Duckett asked someone to hold his bag while he went over and looked at it,'' Stout said. "He was just marveling at it, not even thinking about his fish. Then when he went back the pro that was holding his fish said, 'Hold mine while I go look.'"
That type of thing played out over and over, while Tommy Biffle sat next to Jordon, looking at the fish and slowly shaking his head and grinning as if he were looking at the Holy Grail.
"That's just the respect of the bass,'' Jordon said, grinning. "Seriously. A bass that big is a truly amazing creature. We all have respect for a bass that size. It's a freak of nature, kind of like a 180- or 200-inch buck. Everyone wants to see it because it's a piece of artwork.
"A 10 is a 10 and there's not anything else like it. They have a whole different look to them."
The fish ranks as Jordon's heaviest fish he's ever weighed in a BASS event.
"I've weighed millions in the 9-13 to 9-14 range, but a 10? Now that's something special,'' he said. "Just seeing one is awesome."
Obviously, and he has a throng of Elite anglers who would agree with him, even six months before Christmas.