The Never-Ending Search for Big Bass

I don’t know about you, but I have been fishing since I was very young. I took a break in the middle of my life due to some personal issues, but I am back and at it harder than ever. I wanted to tell you my story about how I caught the biggest bass in my life and how I went about doing it. There are life lessons, as well as fishing lessons to be learned.

When I was younger, I often fished in my grandparent’s pond and in that pond, they had bluegill and bass. The bass were quite big and seemed to be more of a challenge. So, as a youth, I wanted to try to catch the bigger and more challenging fish. The bass in my grandparents were big as farm pond bass, and we know that some small pond fish in general, can be bigger. I tried many times to catch bigger bass and had some moderate success, but I never caught the “big one.”

A five pounder or greater always seemed to escape me, and most of what I was catching was on a nightcrawler to start. I even graduated to using plastics, and that would me catch bass but never the larger bass out of that pond or any body of water for that matter. I couldn’t figure out what I was doing wrong.

Growing up in the northern Midwest, granted we didn’t have a lot of bigger bass (or hardly any bass) as they do down south, but with my grandparent’s pond being in West Virginia, where it’s just a bit warmer, I thought that the bigger bass would be there. My grandpa would tell me stories of the “big one that got away,” and I wanted to get that big one. I wondered how big that fish could be.

I would have to wait about 30 years to find out just how big those fish could get.

I didn’t have any success catching bass in the waters of the Northern Midwest. As a youth, I was somewhat upset because I had associated bass as being a big fish and the fish that I wanted to catch the most. To this day, I consider bass my favorite fish to catch and when I am out fishing in a place I know that there are bass, I usually concentrate on that fish.

Of all the fish that I have caught in my life, I have caught bass the most.

I watch a lot of the bass fishing shows, read the magazines, watch the videos and I want to try new things to catch them. No longer do I catch them off night crawlers and bobbers like before. Now I use some of the more advanced lures, soft plastics, crankbaits, etc., to catch bass. Wherever they are I don’t seem to have a problem catching them.
But I wanted to catch more bass and most importantly, I wanted to catch bigger bass. Something over four or five pounds was what I was seeking. But where would I find those fish?

I was back on the hunt for big bass last summer after taking a break from fishing. I had some success in the Iowa River below the Coralville Dam. I was kind of shocked because I had never caught bass in a fast flowing river. I had only caught them in lakes, ponds or behind dams. So catching bass like that is unusual, at least for me. But I had caught it on a lure that would end up being the best lure I could ever use for bass in 2017. Would this lure help me catch a big bass? What was it about this lure that bass loved?

The lure that I used was a “fun” lure. It’s a round-billed crankbait that has the Chicago Bears’ logo painted on both sides. It is orange and navy blue, just like the Bears uniform with two treble hooks, one in the front and one towards the tail. It flutters when it is reeled in using a spinning reel (I haven’t tried it on a bait caster) and looks like something fish would want to go after. It worked for catching large Drum out of the Iowa River in addition to the few bass I caught. It was a fun lure to use; it got a lot of attention from friends and family.

It garnered a lot of jokes too.

I returned to West Virginia to fish in my grandmother’s pond for the first time in many years last summer. I brought along my fishing pole and a small tackle box filled with items to fish for bass, bluegill and some flathead catfish that were present in the pond. I brought that lure as well. Now catching fish is both easy and difficult in this pond. It’s easy because of the fish bite on almost anything you throw at them.

What makes it a difficult place to fish is that the weeds have grown up on almost all the pond’s surface. I would say that last summer, about 70% of the surface of the pond was covered with weeds. You had small spots to throw your lure in and try to catch fish. I had a tough time navigating the few open spots to catch bass.

Frogs would work great on that pond, by the way.

My wife wanted to go for a rowboat ride around the pond. I ended up catching bass after bass just tossing my lure out in two feet of water where there were few weeds. They couldn’t resist. But these were just three to four pounders. Where were the big ones I had been seeking for the first 43 years of my life? I wanted a six or a seven pounder. I would even be happy with a five pounder.

My time was about to come and it was coming sooner than I thought.
We got back on shore and I went over to another place in the pond to try to catch some bass. Just in front of me, a few feet was a large shadow in the water which I thought was a catfish. I know that a catfish was not going to bite on that lure but I thought I would just get him to move a little bit so that I could get a better look at him.

I threw the lure out there started reeling it in and “Bam!” the fish went right for it and hit it hard. I knew it wasn’t a catfish by the way it felt. I wasn’t even sure it was a bass. I thought some other species had hit the lure and was coming into shore. Then there was a leap and I recognized it as a giant bass. I was very excited. I could tell already that this bass was the biggest that I had ever caught.

As I reached down to grab it from the bottom of the lip, I got an even better view of how big it was. As I opened its mouth to pull it up, I noticed that I could have fit my entire first and a couple more fingers in its mouth. I had never seen anything like that on a bass in person before. When I fully lifted it out of the water and got it up on the bank, I knew that I had caught the largest largemouth bass in my 43 years on this earth.

The fish measured out to be 21 inches long and weighed around eight pounds. I decided to have it mounted for a permanent reminder not only of the biggest fish I caught but of the biggest fish I had ever caught out of my grandparent’s pond. It meant a lot to me to keep that fish not only as a memory of my big catch but as a memory of where I caught it.

My grandparent’s pond is my favorite fishing spot.

My search for bigger bass is still not over. I have become much more in tune with some of the finer points of bass fishing. I feel that I am going to be much more adept at catching them now that I have been studying what works and what doesn’t. I am buying up bass fishing equipment, reading books and magazine articles while researching fishing spots. I want to get out and do a lot more bass fishing in the area that I live in and find the bigger bass.

As much as I like my grandparent’s place and going there, I would like to catch bigger bass on a regular basis around where I live as well.
My search for bigger bass will continue and it’s a search that I am willing to take on. I love fishing and bass fishing is my favorite kind of fishing.