The Long Quest For A 10-lb. Bass

A big, black shape is lying up in the shallows. A fish. A big one. A bass. A giant...

Paul Coenen | May 21, 2015

Editor’s Note: The following story was taken from GON’s web forum. Paul’s username on the forum is “Coenen.” Check out the forum at

Some years ago, a good friend of mine told me about a lake he knew in north Georgia near Dawsonville. It’s not anything special, in fact, it doesn’t even really have a name, so I’ll call it “The Secret Lake.”

Our first trip to The Secret Lake a dozen years ago wasn’t much to talk about. It was cold, and it was windy. That first trip yielded one fish, and one key phrase that has lasted all these years. We’d look at a lure in the water and say, “If I were a 10-lb. bass, I’d eat that.”

That phrase got to be a joke with me and my fishing partner Jody R. Tallant, of Cumming. Every time we’d try a new bait, switch baits or if a bait looked good but never got bit, we’d say, “If I were a 10-lb. bass, I’d eat that.”

A couple of weeks ago, on May 9, we made our yearly pilgrimage. We started off with some topwater action. Considering the stunted bass in this little lake, we were surprised when we caught a nice 5-pounder right off the bat. We thought surely that the solid fish would be our biggest on the day.

We continued on our way. Coming through the shallow end of the lake, I saw a big, black shape lying up in the shallows. A fish. A big one. A grass carp. Much ado about nothing.

The day continued, the numbers mounted, nothing of size, but we were having a good old time.

For those of you who posted in the “Baits You’ve Never Caught Fish On” thread, I finally got one to take a safety-pin style spinnerbait.

At about 1:30 in the afternoon, we were pulling out of a cove, and just up the bank I saw it. A big, black shape was lying up in the shallows. A fish. A big one. A bass. A giant! Patrolling between a couple of laydowns, there she was.

We held the boat off a good ways and made our first offering, the topwater plug. She barely gave it a glance. Next, it’s the spinnerbait, She gave it a look, but she’s not in the mood to chase. She swam a little closer to the boat, and we showed her a Texas-rigged green worm.There was interest, but it’s fleeting at best.

She swam away, and we give her another look at the topwater, rejected again. It got hung in the only stick-up she’s lurking around. She’s not spooked. I freed spool the reel, put the rod down, and it was weightless Trick Worm time. Green was ignored, so was white.

I decided it’s time to try and jiggle the topwater plug off of that stick-up. With just the tail of the bait shaking in the water, it looked just right as I was popping it and trying to get it free. Our fish lined up and unleashed a savage strike. Thankfully, she missed the hooks, and we were spared an extremely awkward situation.

The fish headed a ways up the bank, and we eased the boat in and retrieved the snagged lure. With the operation stealthily accomplished, it was time to pull out the last stop. I reached into the bag and pulled out one thing that I know a largemouth hates—something I’m confident this fish will try to kill—a black lizard. We angled the boat a few feet down the bank, and I made my offering. I threw past the fish and swam the lizard out from the bank. I got her attention. I got it right about on her nose, and let it fall. She’s interested. The bait drifted down to the bottom. She followed it down.

I said over my shoulder, “I think that’s it…”

Without feeling a tick, thump, tug or anything else, I took about a half turn on the reel. Weight. Lots of weight. I set the hook hard. Nothing. The fish is hooked, there’s no doubt in my mind. She swam from our left to right, no hurry, no panic, no blistering run, she was just taking her ball and going home. About that time, she ran out of line to work with, and the pressure from the rod turned her head. It’s on.

I couldn’t tell you how long the fight was. I couldn’t tell you exactly how heavy she was. I didn’t even think to cut line for proper measurements. I’m okay with not knowing exactly. Without a doubt, this is the biggest largemouth bass I’ve ever caught. Maybe the biggest I’ll ever catch.

After a few pictures, we sent her on her way. With some luck we’ll see her again sometime. With a lot of luck, maybe we’ll have her in the boat, bigger and better than ever before.

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