Five-bass all-time weight record is in jeopardy

YANTIS, Texas — It’s one of the older records on the B.A.S.S. all-time list. Dean Rojas weighed the heaviest single-day, five-bass limit of 45 pounds, 2 ounces on Jan. 17, 2001, at Florida’s Lake Toho. That record is in jeopardy at Texas’ Lake Fork this weekend in the AFTCO Bassmaster Elite Series tournament.

“This place is capable of Rojas’s record getting shattered,” said Drew Benton. “I want to be the one to do it.”

“I think you could definitely do 45-plus,” said Keith Combs. “I had a 12 (pounder) in practice. Catch one of those with some 8s and 9s with it, that’s 45 pounds. It could happen here. There could definitely be some wild stuff happening on the bank (Saturday).”

There could have already been some wild stuff happening in shallow spawning beds if the cold front hadn’t hit on Wednesday and lingered Thursday.

“I found two-days-worth of mid 30 (pound bags) on bed in practice,” Benton said. “Two days of that cold front knocked them in the head. In the last hour today, I caught three or four of those fish I weighed in.”

Benton’s in 47th-place with 44-4 over two days. He’s a longshot to make Sunday’s top 10 final. But he’d love a chance to catch the big bass on spawning beds he saw during practice, before the cold front hit. He saw that pattern resuming as the temperature warmed into the mid 60s with no wind Friday afternoon. Combs saw it too.

“I went back to an area and found a big one on a bed,” he said. “I was running out of time. And I caught a 7-pounder off a bed. I had already been through there. Those fish weren’t there then.”

But seeing big ones on spawning beds won’t be the only way to catch a big sack. Bass can be intercepted en-route as well.

Jordan Lee caught 32-14 in isolated trees in 10 to 12 feet of water on a Berkley Stunna jerkbait.

“I think the bigger ones aren’t ready to move in yet,” Lee said. “I liked what I saw. It started clicking for me. They’re in transition. They’re moving a lot. They’re getting ready to spawn.”

“One hundred percent, that record could fall,” said Brandon Palaniuk. “I chased one around today for probably half a mile. I caught an 11-pounder in practice and it was bigger than that.

“The fish are right there, waiting to go to the bank. And I think this is the first wave of really big ones. We’re getting the weather now. Today I started seeing a lot more fish swim toward the bank.”

Sixteen bags topping 30 pounds were weighed Friday, topped by Chris Johnston’s 35-11 limit. The high is forecast to be 80 degrees Saturday and near that on Sunday. Lee Livesay showed what Lake Fork is capable of when he caught five totaling 42-3 on April 25, 2021, in winning the Elite Series event that year. Livesay’s five bass limit ranks third on the all-time B.A.S.S. list.

“Absolutely, I think the record could be broken this weekend,” said Patrick Walters, who had 32-8 Friday. “It would take a really, really great day. But with what lives here, there’s no doubt. Lee caught 42 pounds out here and that was post-spawn. Pre-spawn is the time to do it, so I could see it, easily.”