Joe Everett is a man on a mission. The Southern California angler is a trophy hunter — one of a legion of anglers trying, hoping, wishing to catch the next world record largemouth bass. Along his way to that goal, Everett has caught so many 10-pound, 12-pound and even 15-pound bass that he no longer counts or targets them. After all, they're not the fish he's after.
As a man who's caught hundreds of bass that others would call their bass of a lifetime, Everett has become extremely proficient with his trophy hunting. His insights will help us all in the quest to catch a bigger bass than ever before.
His tips are straightforward, concise and unfailingly helpful.
"Whether you're after a world record largemouth or a six-pound smallmouth, you'll never catch one unless you're fishing where they live," Everett says. "I do most of my largemouth fishing at Lake Mission Viejo, because that's where I think I can catch a world record. But if I lived in Connecticut or Colorado, I'd study the waters there and go to the places that give me the best shot at catching the biggest fish around."
There are multiple ways to find the best trophy waters in your area, but three of the best are local outdoor publications, tackle retailers and your state fish and game agency. The publications likely publish photos or lists of big bass catches in your area. Tally them and figure out where to try. Local tackle emporiums probably have a bragging board full of photos of hefty fish. Pay attention to where they were taken.
But your most reliable source is going to be your state fish and game department. Contact the local office and ask about your best bet for the bass of a lifetime. They probably have electro-fishing or other data showing where the big ones live and can even tell you which trophy waters are underutilized, improving your chances of a big catch even more.
It's not always enough to be in the right place. You also need to be there at the right time. Every one of the bass on the Bassmaster Top 25 largemouth list was taken between January and July 2, and most of them were caught in the prespawn season.
"For my goal of catching the next world record," Everett says, "I have about a 45-day window in the prespawn when that fish is going to be most available to me and most vulnerable to my methods. That's when I have my best chance. It's not likely to happen in the summer or fall, and that's true for most bass fishing all over the world. The biggest bass are caught in the late winter and early spring. They're heaviest then, too, because they have added weight from eggs before the spawn."
Trophy anglers all over attest to the fact that the biggest bass spawn first. Be there to meet them if local fishing seasons permit. Everett has tremendous respect for bass and the sport and realizes that bed fishing is controversial in many circles. He also realizes that bed fishing gives him the best chance of realizing his goal — catching and later releasing a world record.