It happens, even to the best bass anglers around. Yes, the one that got away!
A guided trip with Reeds Guide Service in early October, as matter of fact to be exact Monday, October 6 2008, ended with some nice pictures of some decent sized bass. It could have ended with a picture of a — lets see how can I put this to emphasize– a trophy, monster-sized largemouth bass! A huge bass, that would span the entire length of any well taken picture.
It was a day like most days you see during the Fall season. Leaves turning colors, a cool light jacket morning in the low 60′s, sprinkled with dabs of puffy, white clouds blanketing a beautiful background of blue sky. With the sun slowly rising in the eastern skies, the beginning of another beautiful day on Lake Wedowee. A day like any day on this trophy bass impoundment when following any cast, an angler could be a hero…or a zero.
Two anxious anglers had called me and booked this trip a few weeks prior. One of which had a house on Lake Wedowee and he was regular fan of my “Hooked on Lake Wedowee” column I began writing for this wonderful magazine that debuted in February, 2008. The other angler, was obviously a long-time companion of his.
I could immediately tell that these two guys had fished together many times before. Obvious by the ribbing that occurred between the two as they loaded the boat at dawn, on that now not-so-eventful day. No, I’m sorry to say it turned out to be a day they both would remember. A day that would sadly be known among these two friends as the day,” the Big One Got Away.”
As you know by now this story is all about an angler losing that “bass of a lifetime”. Its here for your reading pleasure, not for me to try and ridicule anyone and no names will be called. They both know who they are. Really nice gentleman and lots of fun to fish with. After all isn’t that what fishing is all about? Enjoying a nice day on the water, having fun and catching bass with your friends!
A day to get away from all of life’s many worries and just relax and catch some fish! And they did end up catching some nice bass that day! All but one. The one that got away.
Prior to this long to be remembered day, we discussed how we were going to fish that day, where we were going to fish, what lures and equipment we should fish with and most important when planning a trip to any Big Bass Impoundment, the size of the line to be spooled up on the reels to be used. Make no mistake about it there are some big bass in Lake Wedowee. This is one lake when an angler can leave the light tackle outfits at home.
Come loaded for bear, as they say. So I instructed these two anglers in their preparation for this trip, to be sure and spool up their reels with fresh new line, at least 17-20 pound test monofilament line. One showed up with a small open-faced spinning rod and reel outfit, maybe loaded with 10 pound test line, a rod and reel that looked good for crappie or bream. The other angler had an open-faced bait caster reel, on a 6 foot rod. I think he said it had 12 pound line…that had been on there for a while.
Even though I knew they should have heavier equipment, I also knew there was hope. So off we went. As I idled the boat out of the small pocket at the Hwy. 48 bridge public launch, I gave both of them some topwater lures to start their day with. The smaller of their selections of topwater lures a baby torpedo, his friend used and a Zara Super Spook for the guy with the bait caster rod and reel outfit. Who stood on the front deck with me, as I ran the trolling motor that morning.
We entered a timber filled pocket and they began fishing just after the crack of dawn. Shad and small bait fish of all kinds were everywhere skipping across the waters surface and occasionally we heard a big bass explode on an obviously frightened school of bait fish. Suddenly right in the middle of the exposed trees a big bass made what is called a “boil” on the waters surface.
As the big bass rolled to the top in an attempt to eat another gizzard shad, the escaping meal skipped across the calm surface of deep clear water. A big meal that looked just like the iridescent colored Zara Super Spook the angler beside me was fishing. So like any guide would say, I said, “throw over there!”
We were a good cast away. Not really all that far, if you are accurate in your long casts and used to fishing with such a big, overbearing topwater lure. A topwater lure that is about six inches long and resembles a shad, looking more like a big saltwater offering! So I trolled the boat as fast as I could towards the huge boil without disturbing the big bass that had shown itself. Having seen this occurrence hundreds of times before, my adrenalin was already pumped up as we neared our destination. It was if I was actually fishing for this bass myself!
Still, to be sure, I quickly checked the anglers frozen drag and adjusted it, pulling off some line to where it would not lock up. Most reels are frozen tight on cool mornings and always they need the drag adjusted before testing it to its limits, on a big, tackle-testing largemouth bass. As always, I was concerned about the client even getting a bite, so I instructed him to throw past the sight of the huge boil and then walk the Zara Super Spook up to the bass.
Landing a big topwater lure right on top of a bass can often spook it, especially in clear water situations, where the water clarity / visibility is at 3-4 feet deep, like it was that day. So he did. A perfect cast, landing just past the stickups of several trees of standing timber left in Lake Wedowee when it was impounded in 1983.
As the angler walked the Spook perfectly through the stickups, it happened. Not just any Big Bass blow up. One that would be etched in all three of our minds for as long as each of us would be here on this earth. Or at least long enough to be remembered by me, for it had been years since I saw a bass of this magnitude clear the waters surface displaying an acrobat of fighting fury.
As the huge largemouth bass cleared the surface of the water leaping two feet in the air and exposing its entire body, it looked to be every bit as long as the 12 1/2 pound largemouth bass on my den wall. To our dismay the huge bass missed the zara super spook topwater lure.
The unknowing angler exclaimed ” that was a pretty good bass! ” I just turned to him, (obviously sounding like a know it all) and just sadly said, “that my friend, was the bass of a lifetime.” Most anglers only get a few chances at such a huge bass in an entire life of fishing for bass. His obviously befuddled friend exclaimed, ” he loses big bass all the time but usually they are not that big.”
Knowing most anglers are not as serious as I am about landing these “bass of a few casts”, I tried to just shrug it off. I also knew if a big bass does not touch a topwater lure or you do not hook it and lose it, it may strike the very same lure again. Often they can be fooled into striking the lure again, usually in just a short period of time, after things settle back down.
Still, both of these now very anxious anglers thrashed the water to a frazzle, with a severe pounding from all directions that was possible. A dozen casts to the immediate area by both anglers that only left a good pile of bubbles in the after math of their topwaters, to show for their efforts. So we left. Only to return in five minutes. By now the angler in the back of the boat was having a drink. The angler that had lost the chance at hooking into this monster bass was now ready, willing and able.
Again, like always, I said, “make sure you throw your lure far past the spot where the big bass has shown itself” and the I instructed him to just slowly walk the topwater lure to its destination. Then, both you and the bass you are after are ready. He made a long cast, the oversized topwater lure rocketed far up in the air, landing right on top of the basses lair! In my mind I was already thinking, that bass is spooked and we will not get another chance to see it. I have been wrong before in my assumptions.
Again, to my utter disbelief, the huge bass exploded on the topwater lure. This time it was hooked and the huge bass plowed its way towards the lakes bottom. The anglers rod bowed up, looking like some bow (without the arrow) and the fight was on! But only for short period of time.
His line broke and off went the huge largemouth bass, with my zara spook in his mouth, both of which we would never see again. I was literally sick to my stomach (as I’m sure the angler was to), as I slowly laid down the net I had grabbed as soon as he had hooked up. Then I just poured myself a soothing cup of coffee as both of them had the most peculiar look on their faces.
Just like the big bass, I would remember that “look” for a long time. After getting a second look at this huge bass of a lifetime, I estimated it to be even bigger than my wall hanger. A bass in the “teens” any angler would be proud to do battle with. Afterwards I trolled the boat over to the top the mangled clump of trees and saw my depth finder read 50 feet deep! The trees were sitting on a small hump (surrounded by this deep water) that rose to within 13 feet of the waters surface. A perfect Big Bass hideout
So it goes. I’ve wrote about being “ready” in almost every issue of Lake Wedowee Life Magazine. This is the only lake in Alabama where an angler should be ready on every cast he/she makes. After this true story, maybe readers will now know what I mean when I say, ” you don’t go after an elephant with a B B gun.”
Maybe next time (perhaps in a much better ending article), you won’t be the one with the of old tale of, “the one that got away.” Then we can name names!
* WINTER IS BIG BASS TIME ON LAKE WEDOWEE! – Records show more Big Trophy Bass (those exceeding ten pounds), are taken during the cold, Winter months and early Spring season on Lake Wedowee, than all other months of the year. Call on Reeds Guide Service (205) 663-1504 in Birmingham, Al. and let Reed take you on a trophy bass excursion this winter or plan a fishing trip for next spring. But be forewarned. You must be ready.
* ANGLERS GIFT – Looking for that perfect Christmas gift, Fathers Day gift, Birthday surprise (or any occasion), for those loved ones that love to fish? E-mail Reed for information on getting a certificate for your loved ones gift, “A Guided Fishing Trip to Lake Wedowee (or any Alabama lake). A perfect gift for any angler year round!
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Go to their website www.tigerodz.com to order yours today! All kind of rods are available.
* Reed Montgomery has made a living fishing and guiding on all Alabama’s lakes. He is an expert in all of the aspects of fishing, especially with this age old topwater lure, the Heddon Zara Spook. A lure still in production today, almost 100 years since it was created by James Heddon in the early 1900′s. A lure that still fools big bass!
* ZARA SPOOK FISHING TIPS – “Everything you Always Wanted to Know About Fishing the Zara Spook”.
* WANT MORE TOPWATER FISHING INFO? – “Topwater Fishing in the Winter” an in-depth article authored by Reed Montgomery, explaining how you can catch Big Bass in the winter season using a variety of topwater lures!
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