Barbs and Backlashes

My Biggest Bass by whitetips
March 29, 2010, 9:31 am
Filed under: Fishing | Tags: ,

A week or two ago I had a blog post about the biggest walleye I had ever handled.  I presume that was interesting to folks as someone then asked me about the biggest bass I had ever seen/handled.  I wrote him a reply, but I thought I would share that here as well.

The biggest largemouth I have seen was an 8-pound fish that was caught from a southeast Nebraska farm pond. The guy had it alive in a cooler, brought it in to the office for weighing and some pictures and then he planned to take it back to the pond and release it!  That bass was the “model” of a graphite reproduction mount that we had made and it still hangs in an office somewhere around here.

I have probably not handled as many bass as I have walleyes, but I have electro-fished several hundred at least, I am sure. While doing that sampling, I have not seen a single largemouth that would beat 6.5 pounds. I have seen a lot of 4- and 5-pounders, a few 6-pounders, but darned few bigger than that. There was talk from some of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service biologists a few years ago that they had sampled a ginormous bass on the Valentine Refuge, a fish that perhaps would have pushed double-digits. I saw a picture of a bass caught and released on the Valentine Refuge this winter that I would bet weighed in the 8-pound range. We have some 7-, 8- and occasionally 9-pounders entered for Master Angler Awards every year, but nothing any closer to the 10 pound, 11 ounce state record.

I have seen pictures, listened to stories and in one case even examined the head of a bass that supposedly was state record size (you know the story, fish was caught, filleted and eaten and then someone decided it might have been big enough to be a state record). I am still waiting for some solid evidence of one of those fish that challenges the state record; none I have seen so far have been big enough to come close. I believe our hook & line state record largemouth bass might be one of the toughest records to break. It would take a fish of nearly 11 pounds to break our hook & line state record and it is almost too much to believe that any northern largemouth bass in Nebraska waters could ever reach that size.

A interesting topic for another post sometime would be the capture of large speciments; who is more likely to catch those fish?  Biologists or anglers?

The biggest largemouth I have personally caught was a 21.5-inch fish taken a few years ago from an interstate lake just west of Kearney.  I did not weigh that fish, measured it, snapped some photos and released it, but I am guessing that fish was in the 6-pound class.

That fish was caught in the summer and took a Sluggo; took it within a rod’s length of my tube.

I had a bigger bass than that fish hooked once.  Hooked that fish in the fall on a Rat-L-Trap.  That was a huge bass, easily 6 pounds and I am guessing quite a bit bigger than that; how big I know not for sure because I lost her.  I fought her for a long time, long enough to know that I had a really big bass.  In fact my son was standing by with the landing net, she was ready to be put in the net when she came to the surface and shook her head back and forth one more time.  She opened her mouth, shook her head and my son and I can still close our eyes and see that last head shake and the Rat-L-Trap flying from her mouth and plopping in the water.   Arrrrrrrggggggggghhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!  I will tell you one more detail to embellish the story; that bass spit up a carp that it had eaten; the dead carp was floating on the water where that big bass had just wallowed.  If that carp weighed an ounce it weighed a pound, pound and a half.  As my buddy Dick Turpin would say “If I’m lying, I’m dying”.

The part of the story about the Rat-L-Trap brings up another topic for another blog post on another day. . . .

Not my largest, but an interstate lake smallmouth bass from a few years ago.

The first Master Angler fish I ever caught was a 3 pound 5 ounce smallmouth bass caught early one July morning at Merritt Reservoir.  That was a LONG time ago.  I have caught a couple of smallmouth bass from Nebraska waters that weighed 4 pounds, both were also caught from interstate lakes.  That reminds me of the biggest smallmouth bass I have ever seen.  I did not catch it; an old gentleman wearing bib overalls and his wife were catching small perch from an interstate lake my dad and I were fishing one morning.  We were down the bank a ways when the lady came hollering at us to see if we could help her husband land a fish.  We motored the canoe over there and by the time we got there he had the biggest smallmouth I had ever seen, biggest I have ever seen since, pulled up into the sedge along the shoreline.  I scooped that fish up in the net and took it up the bank to him.  Again I do not know for sure how big that smallmouth was, but it was HUGE.  I have caught 4-pounders and this fish was WAY bigger.  I would guess 5 pounds, maybe even pushing 6.  It may have been larger than our state record at the time.  The old couple had a whole bucket full of small perch they were planning to eat.  I told them they really should take that fish and have it weighed, but I am sure that big smallmouth got filleted and fried along with all those little perch.  I bet it tasted great.  We fished hard for smallmouths the rest of that day; have caught a few really nice smallmouths from that lake since, but never one as big as that old gentleman caught.

Let me quit telling old stories and finish this up.  Early spring is one of the best times of the year to catch a big bass, especially a big largemouth.  Bass spawn later in the spring and are still looking to take in some energy in early spring to finish egg and milt development and get ready for the spawn.  Some of the biggest bass entered for Nebraska Master Angler awards every year are caught in early spring.  Now listen up . . . by the time you see the pictures or read it in some “outdoor report” you are going to be too late.  Assuming the weather forecast for Nebraska for this coming week is close to accurate, this is it, this will be one of your best windows of opportunity of the year to catch a big bass.  This week is supposed to bring the first extended stretch of warm weather this spring.  In early spring when a few days of mild, warming weather are strung together,  big bass will move shallow and they will be looking for something to eat.  Think warm.  Some shallow water cover in a protected bay or along a sun-exposed shoreline will be prime real estate.  Anyplace where the water may be a few degrees warmer may hold a big fish.  Fish slow.  Slow-roll a spinnerbait; crank and pause a neutrally-buoyant crankbait; hop a jig & plastic worm along the bottom or imitate a crayfish with a rubber-legged jig and plastic imitation crayfish; or pump a rattle bait a la Kevin VanDam, especially if shad are present where you are fishing.  I will remain the cynic about our hook & line largemouth record being busted, someone is going to have to prove it to me, but regardless of that you very well could catch your biggest bass in the next few days.  Turn her loose, but snap a picture for me first!


3 Comments so far
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Great pictures. We have some similar bass in the lake behind our house. One is longer than 2 feet. We never actually weighed ’em. When the kids catch “it”, nicknamed Big Bob, they throw it back in. Of course, there could be dozens of Big Bobs in there, but it is fun to keep thinking they are catching the same one and nicely throwing it back!
Lindsey Petersen

Comment by 5kidswdisabilities

It could be “Big Bob”! Releasing big fish means they are available to be “recycled”, to be caught again and again. It can and does happen! Tell your kids “Way to go!”

Daryl B.

Comment by Daryl Bauer

[…] the fishing really took off!  If you read my March 29 blog post, read it to the last paragraph, , you might remember that I predicted last week would be a good week to get out and do some bass […]

Pingback by Reports and observations, April 6, 2010 « Barbs and Backlashes

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