Lunker Lessons from Oneida Lake

Just before he caught the biggest bass of the Champion's Choice, 2008 Bassmaster Classic Champion, Alton Jones, told his partner he'd done the dumbest thing of his career.

"I was making long casts into a hole in the weeds on a shallow flat. The water was only about 1 1/2 feet deep and the wind was pushing the boat towards the hole. All of a sudden I saw this drum directly in my path. Then, she turned sideways and slowly swam off. My 'drum' turned out to be a big largemouth bass. I thought I'd really messed up.

"I knew she was over 5 pounds and was my ticket into the Top 12. I couldn't believe my eyes. I guess I was thinking drum because on Oneida you're not looking for bass that big. You know, you just don't expect them.

"I immediately threw a 6-inch Yum Dinger — green pumpkin with purple flake — about 50 feet in front of her. It wasn't more than 10 or 15 seconds before I felt the tick. After that it was fish on!"

Jones says there's a lesson in this for anglers looking to net big bass.

"When you spook a bass, especially a big one, don't give up, and don't throw on top of her. That's a mistake too many anglers make. This is not the time to panic or complain about your luck.

"Instead, try to figure out where she's going and throw in front of her. Get way out, out where she won't see or hear the bait hit the water. Mostly that'll be at least 50 feet, sometimes a lot more. Use a quiet bait if you can. The less commotion you make the better.

"Wait a few seconds and just twitch the lure along, slow and easy. You'd be surprised at how many of them you'll catch that way."

Jones caught his big bass on a Kistler 6-foot, 10-inch Alton Jones Signature Series Football Jig Rod and an Ardent SX 1000 reel (6.3:1 gear ratio) spooled with 50-pound-test PowerPro Superline.