13 1/2” Largemouth. Starting to get bigger, but running out of daylight.
If you’ve been following my Fishin’ Will Facebook or Twitter, you may have heard I landed a 12 lb Largemouth bass. My personal best in that species. What you might not know is the story of what I went through to land the beast.
It was my second trip out since my daughter, Faith, was born. I set aside several hours to explore areas that I had not visited for several months. None of these locations produced a single bite, unless you count the 4 1/2 foot gator that I hooked.
I headed to my last spot with little hope of catching any fish. Hit several openings working a Spyro Bronze Eye Frog along the opposite of a small canal. The frog was cast past the bank allowing me to “hop” it into the water, producing a reaction strike if any bass were there. That was the plan. So far it hadn’t worked at all.
Last stop was a rickety, old bridge used by golfer to cross a small stream connecting the canal to a small lake. The bridge had seen better days. Large gaps in the wooden planks had rotted, falling into the stream below. The stream had long since clogged with vegetation, stopping fish from traveling between the lake and the canal.
At this point in my fishing adventure, my back was killing me. I really didn’t have the desire to cast the frog to the other side and slowly retrieve it back. I decided to cast just past the lily pads hoping that something would take pity on me and strike.
Hunched over on the railing of the bridge, I retrieved the frog until it was just off the lily pads. Keeping the line tight, I twitched the pole making the frog wiggle as if it wanted to move, but couldn’t decide which direction to go.
The twitch was followed by an explosion. A Largemouth bass was on the end of my line. I could tell the fish was only average size by the way it was easily pulled out of the water and slide across the vegetation. I quickly lifted the bass up onto the bridge, snapped a few photos for my social media channels, and put the 17 inch bass into my bucket.
I ventured back onto the bridge. I knew from experience that I probably wouldn’t catch another fish anytime soon. It always seemed that once a fish was caught, other fish avoided the area. I imagine this is like when a group of people watch another person get sucked up into an alien spaceship. No one sticks around to see if the person is going to be dropped back down to earth.
With my back hurting, I cast the frog to the same spot where I caught the 17 inch bass. I slowly retrieved the bait until it was along side a patch of lily pads.
I was about to twitch the bait for the third time when an explosion erupted from the water. Up through the center was a Largemouth bass tail walking. It wanted the frog and got it.
The line started to peel off the reel as bass decided to take his prize and head for the deeper water of the canal. I tightened down the drag hoping the bass would turn back towards the bridge. After a few tense moments, wondering if my line was going to pop, the bass made a u-turn. I was now in control.
I reeled, as if the fish was a monster tuna, lifting the pole up and reeling down. I quickly regained my line. It dawned on me then that I’d never be able to get the fish up onto the vegetation. The fish was too big. I believe the fish realized this also. With a thrust of the fish’s tail, it was in the vegetation.
I tugged on the line trying to see if there was a chance of freeing the fish. No luck. The vegetation was thick. I slacked off on the line and made a dash for the bank. Maybe I could pull the fish from a different angle and free it from it’s grassy prison.
A couple of sharp tugs and the fish was free. Well free from where it was, but now tangled in even thicker vegetation at the bank. The matted grass and fish were 8 feet out in a mucked filled stream.
The idea came to me that I might be able to pull the fish and the vegetation out using my other pole. I quickly jammed the fishing pole in the bushes and ran up the bank to retrieve my second rod. I prayed the fish didn’t realize I wasn’t there or I would lose the fish and my fishing pole.
I made it back to the bank with the fish and pole where I left it. I made several attempts to cast the second pole into the thick vegetation. No luck. The one time my hook doesn’t get hung up on grass was now.
Next idea, let the fish have slack and see if it would free itself. Kind of a risky chance, but I was going to take it. I opened the bail and let the line free spin. The bass could sense there was no pressure and took off. However the line didn’t come free of the vegetation, instead it feed through the vegetation as the bass fled.
Realizing this strategy wasn’t getting me anywhere, I closed the bail and applied pressure. Stopping the bass just on the other side of the lily pads. Now the fish was tangled in the lily pads as well as the grass.
All hope of landing this fish was gone. I had only one last thing to do and that was to crank as hard as I could. Damn be it all.
The bass popped out of the lily pads. I bared down even harder on the rod until the head of the bass poked through the grass. There was my prize. Looking at me through the grass just 8 feet away.
Seeing the goal of my efforts, I pulled harder on the rod. Waiting for the bass to break free and slide to me on the bank.
Just as thought of a flying bass were going through my head, the line broke. Sending me tumbling over my second rod into the bushes. I quickly jumped up, no longer feeling the pain in my back.
I feared the bass was gone as I scanned the grass looking for any signed the fish was stuck. Then I saw it, the broken fishing line was still on top of the vegetation.
Without thinking I drove waist deep into muck covered stream landing squarely on the fishing line (and fish). I wrapped the fishing line around my hand and started to yank the grass out of the water.
The bass realized that this was his last chance. If he got free this time, he’d be rid of me. The bass thrashed left and right tightening the line around my hand. I felt the braided line cut into my index finger, but I wasn’t letting go.
It took three tugs to pull the fish and half of the vegetation out of the stream. I sat back and took a moment to catch my breath. I was relieved that nothing bit me when I was in the water.
I grabbed a few photo and dropped the 12 lb bass into the bucket. Back hurting, but satisfied, I was ready to go home.
I haven’t been doing a lot of fishing lately due to the birth of my beautiful baby girl, Faith Ann, on July 29th. However, the water was calling me. “Come fish,” was all that I heard.
Sunday was a rainy day due to Hurricane Issac bearing down on the west coast of Florida. The advantage of a rainy fishing day is that the mosquitoes don’t bite.
I headed to one of my favorite fishing spots in Palm Coast, Florida. It’s a little culvert that overflows during heavy rain. My thought was the bass would stack up on the other side to gobble up any bait fish, or my lure, that fell over the little dam.
I started off throwing my KVD Sexy Frog with little luck. I was able to prompt a reaction strike by casting the frog into the bushes and hopping the lure out onto the water. I wasn’t able to produce a solid strike.
Changing things up, I switched from the KVD Sexy Frog to a Junebug colored Super Speed Crawl. Nothing. No bites, strikes, nibbles, bumps, nothing.
Decided to go back to an old favorite. A 10 inch, grape shad colored Culprit worm.
The worm was Texas rigged on a 10 lb fluorocarbon leader.
I immediately started having fish pickup the lure and swim away, but was not able to set the hook. The smaller fish were only biting the tail.
Decided to move onto the dam and cast into the flow of the running water. Received several bumps, but no bites. Next idea was to bounce the worm onto the brush and have it swim out into the flowing water.
The tactic worked. Felt the line go tight and knew the fish committed. Landed a 16 inch largemouth bass.
Tried repeating the success with no avail. Seemed that the bass were trying to get out of the rain.
Took my wife out early for some Mother’s Day bass fishing. Tried as best as I could to hook her up. However, the bass didn’t want to cooperate with her. Needless to say I was able to land three bass using a Zoom watermelon speed craw.
Was able to sneak out after helping my father paint his shed. Only had an hour before dinner so I had to make it count. Noticed that there was a LOT of grass on the water surface so I choose to use a Berkley Power Lizard on a Texas rig.
The canal was narrow and offered me the chance to fish both sides. Seemed to work. Caught two bass.
Sitting at home on Sunday playing World of Warcraft and decided I needed to go out fishing. Remembered how much fun it was to catch the mudfish on Saturday, so I shut down my game, grabbed my wife, and loaded my fishing poles in the Jeep and set course for the golf course again.
This time I was focusing on big fish, such as large mudfish. I knew they were in the pond and wanted to have some fun fishing. We stopped by Bob’s Bait and Tackle at US 1 & SR 206 to pick up some worms and other fishing essentials.
Once we arrived at the pond, my wife and I split up to do a divide and conquer method. I got started rigging up the heavy pole the handle whatever the pond may throw at us while she start fishing for bluegill aka bait.
My rig was a Shimano Baitrunner 6500B on a Shakespeare Ugly Stick Tiger. The reel was loaded with green PowerPro 80 lb. test braided line. This pole was setup this way because the original purchase goal was to catch cobia.
I used a 3/0 circle hook on 25 lb. test mono leader. Had a standard line-through weighted bobber tied about a 1 1/2’ up the leader.
Just as I finished rigging the pole my wife caught the first bluegill. I choose to hook the bluegill behind the head, in the “shoulder” area in front of the dorsal fin. Tossed the bait out and waited.
About 15 minutes later, the bobber started going all over the place. A minute later the bobber went time. I jumped up from my chair and set the hook. Next thing I knew a weighted bobber and an empty hook came flying back to my head.
I repeated this process two more times, both times coming up empty handed. At this point I decided to change the rigging up. I took off the single circle hook and added two offset worm hooks that I normally fish plastic bait with. The top hook went through the shoulder while the bottom hook was attached at the tail. My thought was that the fish was biting the back end of the fish and I was ripping the bait off the hook.
Threw out the rig with a fresh bluegill and waited.
The wait was only about 5 minutes when the bait started dragging the bobber trying to get away from whatever was chasing it. The bobber went down about a minute later. This time I knew I had the fish hooked. I set the hook once, twice, third time and snap. The knot I used to tie the leader line to the braided line came undone.
Went back to the Jeep to figure out new riggings. This time I used one of my red circle hooks used for holding finger mullet when I’m chasing after redfish. I also doubled the 25 lb. test leader line and tied it to the PowerPro using a uni-knot. I made sure no fish was going to come off now.
Walked back to the bank and noticed at the bobber from the last rig was still out in the pond moving around. As I watched the bobber I saw a huge mudfish surface near it. Thought that would have been such a fun fight.
My wife supplied me with a new bluegill and I was ready to fish again. This time I hooked the bluegill through the tail.
Chunked the bait out and waited. And waited. Several times the wind blew the bait back into the bank forcing me to throw out again. I was beginning to think the only big fish in the pond was currently attached to the bobber on the other side.
Then the bait started acting scared. It was trying to get away from something. Hopefully something big was on the end of my line. The bobber when down and I set the hook. This time it held.
The fight was fun. The fish made a couple of good runs and almost got tangled up in some weeds. I still wasn’t sure what it was until it made a run for the bank. At first I thought I lost the fish when I realized what it was doing. I quickly reeled in all the slack that I could before the fish made one last run. The battle was over after that. The fish had submitted.
Once at the bank I could see it was a large gar. I could also see that I had lassoed the fish instead of actually hooking it. The double leader line had wrapped around the gar’s mouth and the hook had penetrated at the perfect position to lock the line in place.
I didn’t have anything to measure the gar with, but I’m guessing it was around 4 feet. This is a wonderful prehistorical type fish. Heavily armored with razor sharp teeth.