Giant Bass Fishing With Sam Taylor

Brad Bailey | February 16, 2003

Sam Taylor with the No. 9 heaviest bass to ever come out of Georgia waters. The 16-lb., 9.3-oz. fish was caught March 15, 2002 from a 14-acre Marion County pond.

The bass was so big that when it got hung up in the submerged tree limbs, Sam jumped into the lake to get the fish.

On March 16, 2002, Sam Taylor, of Box Springs, was bass fishing in a 14-acre Marion County pond. He had cast a 4-inch watermelon seed Gambler tube worm into a necked-down part of the pond where he had seen a big bed.

When the big bass hit, there was no question that it was a giant. It immediately surged away, heading for deeper water in the main part of the pond. Almost as quickly, the fragile 8-lb. line became tangled in a forest of submerged trees. Sam could see the big bucketmouth, but on the light line, it wasn’t going to be there long. Without hesitation, he went over the side of his jonboat.

“I grabbed that fish any way I could and flipped it into the boat,” he said.

And with good reason. The largemouth bass, which was weighed and witnessed on U.S. Post Office scales, weighed 16.58 pounds—the eighth heaviest bass ever caught in Georgia.

Sam Taylor is a big-bass hunter, and his record is remarkable. On GON’s list of Georgia’s Biggest Bass of All-Time, you will find Sam Taylor’s name five times. That’s more than 10% of Georgia’s biggest bass. He has three bass over 15 pounds. The “Fish Room” in his home boasts the mounts of 36 bass over 8 pounds, up to a replica of the 16.58-pounder.

Sam has quit mounting fish, but he hasn’t quit enjoying outsmarting a giant bass. Over his fishing career, he estimates that he has caught more than 100 bass over 8 pounds.

When he isn’t working as a builder, Sam is usually bass fishing, and he has access to a number of excellent, private, small ponds. But all of his fishing isn’t on private water. Last spring, he caught and released a 9-lb. and an 11-lb. bass in the same day, from a Georgia PFA. More on that later.

For a man who targets only big bass, his techniques are closer to finesse. Sam fishes with 8-lb. test line on spinning gear. About half his reels are spooled with Stren Lo-Vis line, the other half with moss-green P-Line. The fine line makes a difference, he says.

“I have seen them look at it,” said Sam. “When I have been pitching in shallow water, I have seen bass swim up and look at it and back off.”

Sam’s second biggest bass was caught on March 16, 2002—the day after he caught the 16.58-lb. monster—and came from a 7-acre Marion County pond.

“I had seen that fish and thought it was an 8- or 9-pounder,” said Sam. “I didn’t even cast because it didn’t look like a giant. But when I came back around the pond, I got a better look and saw how big it was.”

Sam was fishing with what he calls his favorite giant bass bait—a watermelon seed Super Fluke. Sam fishes the bait on a 3/0 wide-gap hook. Other than a swivel that he ties a couple of feet up the line, he fishes the Fluke with no weight.

When he flipped the Fluke in front of the giant bass, it immediately took the bait. The fish was just shy of 16 pounds, weighing in at 15.96 pounds. The bass was caught at 1 p.m.

“I don’t think I have ever caught a giant early in the morning,” said Sam.

He keeps records of the bass he catches, and those records tell him that prime time is between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.

“During the prespawn, it takes until that time of day for the water to warm to their comfort zone,” he said. “Then by about 2 p.m., the angle of the sun is so low that the water is starting to cool off.”

Over the years, Sam says that he has caught most of his giant bass on a 6-inch Zoom U-tail worm in tequila sunrise color. But he has also caught a few on crankbaits, too.

On March 20, 1999, he was fishing a 17-acre lake in Upson County and casting a crawfish-colored Fat Free Shad. When the crankbait hit a stump, he stopped his retrieve, and the bass hit immediately. The 15.11-lb. bass made Sam the Georgia winner of the Bassin’ Big Bass World Championship.

A year later, on July 9, 2000, he caught a 14.27-lb. giant on a No. 5 Shap Rap.

There is likely to be a spinnerbait tied onto one of Sam’s rods, too, but he uses the blade as a locator lure. He says the bigger the bass, the less likely it is to chase down a bait. He thinks they are much more likely to hit a bait that is presented slowly. He likes soft plastics for big bass because they can be pitched gently into the water without causing a lot of commotion.

Sam is a firm believer in the merits of garlic scent on soft-plastic baits.

“One of the best attractants is garlic,” he said. “A bass will hardly let go of it. I’m not sure why, but it’s got to be the taste.”

Sam packs his worms, lizards and Super Flukes in a Zip-Loc bag with Jack’s Juice garlic scent.

“The garlic definitely makes a difference,” he says.

Sam employs a few other tricks, too. The tube worm he used to catch the 16.58-pounder was filled with a crushed Alka-Selzer and tiny bubbles trailed from the bait.

“Crawfish make bubbles when they are on the bottom,” said Sam. “The bubbles make it simulate a crawfish.”

Sam targets giant bass. During the prespawn period, he will often cruise the shallows looking for a giant. If he sees an 8-pounder, he is likely to pass it up.

“If the 8-pounder is up shallow spawning, you can bet the giants are, too,” he said. “I would just rather catch a 13-pounder than an 8-pounder. The window of opportunity to catch a giant is very narrow. I think the big bass are the first to spawn. The giants just don’t feel comfortable in shallow water. When the conditions get right, they lay their eggs and get back to deeper water. If you know where there is a 14-lb. bass, and you have the time, you have to go every day.”

And you have to pick the right time to make a cast.

“When you see a big bass cruising in the shallows, they can be very difficult to catch until they lock down on a spot to spawn. If you try to cast to a cruising big bass, nine times out of 10 you will just spook it out of the area.”

But a big bass is in an area for a reason, and Sam says that if you wait on a spooked bass, it will usually come back.

Timing can be everything, and when Sam locates a giant, he waits and watches for the right moment.

“Sometimes I have watched a giant bass for more than an hour without casting,” he said. “If I see a giant bass locked down on a location, I may just watch it for a while. A bass will sometimes move in and out of a spot, but they will usually come back to the exact same spot against a stump or a log. If I see one swim out, I will flip a Fluke or tube bait right in there and then just wait for the fish to come back. When they come back, they will see the bait and pick it up to move it out of the way. When I see the gills flare, even if I don’t feel anything, that’s when I set the hook.

“Patience is a big key. A lot of people give up too easily. I fished for the same bass in an Upson County pond for two weeks. When I finally caught it, it weighed about 13 1/2 pounds. I didn’t weight that one on scales, and it went back in the pond.

“I spend a lot of time just easing along looking for fish, or looking for concentrations of bream, anything that might make it a good spots for a giant.”

Even the birds can be an indicator.

“Look at that great blue heron,” he said at the second pond we fished. “It is in the northwest corner of the pond where the water should be a little warmer. There are probably some minnows in there, or he wouldn’t be there. Might be a bass there, too.”

A low barometer reading makes Sam itch to go giant bass fishing.

“Generally when the barometer is at 29.75 and has bottomed out and is just starting to rise, that’s the best time to be fishing,” he said. “In the midst of a storm can be the best time, when the fish are the most active.”

While he as caught big bass throughout the late winter and spring, March is prime time in Sam’s giant bass fishing book.

“March is a super month,” he said. “A lot of factors conducive to good bass fishing come together in March. The water temperature is rising, the fish are coming out of winter, and they want to move and feed, and there is a lot of transition in the weather—lots of thunderstorms coming through.

After lunch on the day I fished with Sam, we pulled his jonboat to a PFA that offers what may be the closest thing to a high-quality public farm pond, Big Lazer PFA.

“This is a hot lake,” said Sam. “The bass are big and healthy because it is so well-managed, and the lake has a lot of structure.”

During a two-month stretch last spring, Sam said he caught more than 40 bass over 5 pounds at Big Lazer, including the 9-lb. and 11-lb. bass. Both those bass hit a watermelon seed Super Fluke along one bank behind the island at the upper end of the lake.

Sam’s biggest bass to be weighed on certified scales is his 16.58-lb. bass, but he has caught bigger. He boated one in 1999 from a private pond that he estimates would have gone between 16 and 18 pounds, and then released the fish.

On another trip to an Upson County pond he had a giant that he thinks would have challenged the world record up to the boat before his fishing partner knocked it off the line trying to net it. While there is a lot of talk about the next world record coming from California, Sam believes the fish will come from a small Georgia millpond—and with just a little luck, the angler to catch it will be Sam Taylor.

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