Sometimes it’s a swirl. This time it’s more of a disturbance, a slight movement on the surface that you could easily dismiss as just the breeze. Unless you’re looking for it. And we’re looking for it.
From the middle of our small aluminum boat, my fishing partner sets the hook and immediately says, “Big fish.”
Actually, because of the strain of holding on against this creature’s strength, his words come out through clenched teeth and sound more like “biggg fishh-uhhh.”
Moments later a monster largemouth — green-black on the back, white on the belly and eyes bulging — tries to launch her great heft free of the lake. She only succeeds in getting about half her body airborne before splashing back into three feet of water near the tip of the small island we’re fishing. She’s not far from the hollowed out sandy depression where she must have been laying her eggs.
At this point, everybody is moving. One is using the trolling motor to turn the boat 90 degrees toward the fish. I’m grabbing the net to capture her when she comes alongside. And, of course, the angler is fighting the fish, which is in control of everything, whether she knows it or not.
It ends suddenly when the fish makes an ill-advised boatside jump that ends with her dropping tail first into the net. I heft her aboard, and we all begin to make predictions on her weight.
We agree on 12 pounds. You get that from her bulk, of course, but also from the eyes. Something happens when largemouths pass 10 pounds. Their eyes bulge in a way that says, “Look at me. I’m huge.”
Of course, the eyes can deceive, so we bring out the Boga-Grip. The great fish pulls the scale down to only 10.5 pounds. Only 10.5 pounds. That’s like saying LeBron James only jumped three feet off the ground when he slammed home that 360 dunk.
Anybody in his right mind would be thrilled with that double-digit bass, and we all are. If there’s any disappointment, I can’t find it. You just want big to be really big, not just kinda big.
And the neat thing about this particular fish, just as with all the other big bass we catch on this trip is that she hit a watermelon-red flake worm that was half as long as she was. The appropriately named Strike King Iguana is 12 inches of soft plastic that’s becoming a go-to spring time offering for big bass.
We’ve already talked about the “big bait/big bass theory.” There’s no denying the effectiveness of the giant lures that anglers are using today, whether they be three-quarter-ounce spinner baits or imitation rainbow trout that weigh a pound. Or, as in this case, a humongous, spongy plastic lizard that is hard to beat when bass are on the beds and maybe slow to bite other lures.
You’ll for sure pass up a few smaller fish throwing the giant stuff but that’s not always the case. We caught 12-inch fish on the Iguana, too.
The Iguana comes in smaller sizes, of course. Strike King makes an 8-inch version called a Rage Tail Lizard, and Zoom has an 8-inch version of its popular 6-inch lizard, as well. Both catch lots of fish. All these giant lures can be fished with a weight right on the bottom, or pulled in an up and down movement back to the boat. You can even fish without a weight and right on the surface.
Most outlets don’t carry the big lizards. You have to buy them online.
There’s something about those giant lizards and their plastic worm counterparts that seems to be irrestible to big largemouth bass.
Postscript: During 10 hours of fishing on this trip, we landed 70 bass. Beyond the 10 pounder, the catch included a pair that weighed 8.75 pounds each, four that weighed 7 pounds each and more than 10 that weighed four to seven pounds each.
With the exception of maybe 10 fish that I caught on a Zoom Brush Hog, every one of the chunky big fish hit the Iguana.