Baxter, Tenn., BASS member David Lane had a gut feeling that March 23, 2003, was going to be a great day to go fishing on Center Hill Lake near his home. "The lake was high and murky, and weather conditions were sunny, with 20 mph winds," he told Bassmaster. "That's prime conditions for big smallmouth to move up to the banks." Lane's hunch paid off big. After five hours of fishing, he and his partner had boated 44 bass, anchored by Lane's 9-pound smallmouth, one of the biggest bronzebacks ever reported.
Lane, a 33-year-old excavation company owner, arrived at the lake at 9:30 a.m. with fishing partner Matt Summers. "I was casting a 5/8-ounce Zorro Aggravator spinnerbait, green-and-white, with one Colorado and one willowleaf blade, on 17-pound P-Line, targeting rocky banks that were being hit by the wind," he said. "Right away, I caught a 4-pound smallmouth and a 4-pound spotted bass. Then at 10:30, I hung a bigger fish. It made a long run for deep water, but I eventually managed to turn it. It came to the surface and wallowed on top, shaking its head. From what I could determine at that point, it looked to be about a 5-pounder."
Lane patiently worked the fish closer, and Summers netted it. "Once we had it in the boat, we were both shocked at how big it was," Lane recalled. "It was so long, neither of us could believe it. My biggest smallmouth up until then was a 7-2, and this fish was in another league altogether."
Certified scales at a nearby market revealed Lane's smallmouth to weigh 9 pounds even. It measured 26 inches long with a 17 ¾-inch girth. The Tennessee basser plans to submit his catch to both the IGFA and National Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame for certification as a line class record. The IGFA's current smallmouth record in its 16-pound-line division is an 8-pound, 6-ounce fish caught from Pickwick Lake, Ala., in 1988. This same bass also holds the Hall of Fame record for 17-pound line.