SAPULPA, Okla. — Billy Lemon has just been waiting for his break.
He’s been a B.A.S.S. member for longer than he can remember and a member of Oklahoma’s Keystone Bassmasters for years. He’s spent plenty of time fishing with and against top pros, such as Jason Christie and Terry Butcher. And last June, he just missed qualifying for the 2012 B.A.S.S. Nation Championship, finishing in the runner-up spot on the Oklahoma state team at the Central Divisional.
But last weekend, Billy Lemon caught his break.
Lemon was fishing the Nichols Marine Team Series on Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees only one week after the sport’s most accomplished anglers picked it apart during the 2013 Bassmaster Classic presented by Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tulsa. He had taken vacation from work so he could go watch the Classic and pull for Christie.
And while he and his partner, Corey Smith, were out on the huge reservoir, March 3, Lemon hooked a lake record — a 12.3-pound behemoth that shocked everyone, including Lemon.
“I sure wasn’t expecting it,” said the humble angler, who has received tons of attention in the last few days. He’s done radio interviews, talked to reporters and gotten calls from top dogs in the fishing industry.
The fish had been swimming in Grand Lake the week prior, eluding Christie and the other Classic contenders. The bucketmouth was fooled, though, by Lemon’s Yumbrella Rig with Gene Larew Sweet Swimmers (Alabama shad).
The 12.3-pounder, which was safely released, beat the previous Grand Lake record, a 10.86-pounder caught in March 2012, by a wide margin.
Lemon and Smith won the tournament with a 24 1/2-pound limit, and Lemon’s part of the winnings is going to help him out this year when he’s fishing the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Opens.
Watch for Lemon this year in the Opens. He’s already got his name in Grand Lake’s record books; it might be his time.