Over the past 60 years, I have caught a good many bass. All were fun, but a few really stand out in my memory, usually the bigger ones.
The first bass I caught was not big. It was probably about ten inches long, but when my cork disappeared in the pool of water below the Usury’s Pond Dam, I expected another small bream or catfish. But this fish did not pull down and make little circles, it ran sideways and jumped out of the water.
Although that was about 60 years ago, I will never forget it, and it hooked me for life.
Bigger bass stand out, too. My first big bass was a 7.5 pounder that hit a Devil’s Horse when I was 12 years old. Harold, Hal, Billy and I were trying to fish from an old wooden run-about at Clarks Hill. We had pulled a jon boat to a cove in Hart Creek where our fathers took it back in the end to throw Hula Poppers. They told us boys to stay well away from them so we would not spook the bass they wanted to catch.
We paddled that old boat best we could, keeping it a long cast off the bank. I fired my Devil’s Horse toward a button bush on the point but the cast with my Mitchell 300 reel and Garcia rod went way wide .
Reeling the plug back as fast as I could turn the reel handle, the plug churned and skittered across the surface. Suddenly the water exploded in a vicious strike. Somehow, we managed to land that big bass.
We thought the bass was crazy. Everyone knew bass hit only slow-moving baits. If I had been smarter, maybe I could have invented the buzzbait in 1962!
Another bass, not quite as big, hit a floating Rebel minnow by a button bush at Clarks Hill in Germany Creek. My family was camping at “The Cliffs” and daddy had agreed to paddle me around in that same old wooden boat while I cast. He did not care much for fishing but took the time with me.
I cast the floating minnow near a button bush and, as soon as I twitched it a little, a bass hit it, but did not get hooked. I let the lure sit then twitched it a little and a 5.5 pound largemouth churned the water as it hit again.
The fish was a good one, but what stands out in my mind is daddy bragging how I did not get too excited and jerk the bait away. He told everyone how I just let it sit then twitched it. That made me proud.
The first eight-pound bass I caught hit a chrome Wiggle Wart during a 1978 January Sportsman Club tournament at Jackson. Bob Pierce and I were fishing from his boat and had not had a bite all day. With just a couple of hours left to fish, we were fishing near Kersey’s where we would weigh in.
I cast the plug to a sandbar and as I cranked it along, it just stopped. Suddenly a huge bass jumped. After a scary fight, Bob netted it. We were both trembling with excitement. After I put the fish in the livewell, I stood on the lid the rest of the day. I was afraid it would jump out.
That bass won me first place and was big fish.
I caught my second eight pounder in a 1978 January Flint River club tournament at Jackson. Cecil Davis and I had fished most of the cold, windy day without a bite. Around noon we were on a big, flat point at the dam.
For some reason, I decided to tie on a heavy spinnerbait and let the wind blow the boat across the point. The spinnerbait bumped along the bottom as we moved. Then it took off toward deeper water, bending my rod double. After a few seconds fight, I told Cecil it had to be a striper.
When I got the fish near the boat, I worried the striper would take off and break my line since I had the drag tightened down as far as it would go. When I tried to loosen it just a little, I moved the star drag too much. The fish made a run and I got a huge bird’s nest in my reel and could not turn the handle. Then the fish came near the surface and we saw it was a big bass.
In my panic, I grabbed the line and pulled it in hand over hand. Cecil netted it and we both yelled and jumped in excitement. That bass was just meant to be caught.
That eight-pound, four ounce bass was the third biggest that day. Frank Crowder weighed in an eight-pound, seven once bass and an eight-pound, twelve ounce bass!
I was really proud of my first nine pounder. It hit a Texas rigged worm by a brush pile I had put on a little rock ledge in eight feet of water in Germany Creek at Clarks Hill. That June afternoon I was by myself but managed to land it.
Just having to show it off, and see how big it was, I put it in the livewell and ran to Raysville Marina. On their scales it weighed exactly nine pounds.
My biggest bass ever, a nine-pound seven ounce largemouth, hit a Suddeth Boss Hog crankbait in a 1991 February Flint River tournament at Jackson. Larry Stubbs and I were fishing near the dam when it hit.
I got the fish near the boat and Larry netted it after a few tries. I was scared it would pull off, I could see the crankbait barely hooked in the corner of its mouth. I just knew it would pull free.
There have been other bass over the years, but these really stand out in my memory