Yet, I had just such an outing earlier this month while fishing on a farm pond owned by my friend from college, Linnzi Fusco, and her family.
Since the pond had basically gone unfished since it was stocked with bass years ago, I expected the bass to bite on just about anything and threw out a topwater popper to attract some attention. Linnzi tied on a spinner and began to cast out with her baitcaster.
I switched to a bubblegum-colored Z-Man Floating WormZ plastic on a Z-Man ShakyHeadZ jig head in green pumpkin. I aimed the colorful lure, accentuated by my Neon Tangerine Sufix Siege fishing line, along the bank to a tuft of grass and was soon met by a huge tug on my line and a loud splash as the fish darted out to deeper waters. With my pole bent double, I maneuvered the massive fish into the shallows and saw the biggest bass I’d ever caught looking back at me.
I estimated the largemouth to weigh about 5 pounds, as it was almost exactly the same size as a 5-pound bass my buddy Scott Stormann caught a few years ago at the Shawnee State Fishing Lake just northwest of Topeka. I released the bass, thinking it might be the only big fish in this pond. Wrong again.
The big fish unfortunately got the line wrapped around the tree branch, however, and Linnzi ran over with her phone to film one of the best moments of my fishing career as I somehow managed to disengage the giant bass from the tree limb, wrap it around the lumber and pull it onto the bank. Seriously, check it out on my YouTube page, RouseOutdoors, or on the online version of this story. Laughing and out of breath, I pulled the lunker out of the muddy waters and saw that I once again broke my personal record, as this fish was just as long but much fatter.
I later measured the giant fish at 20 inches long, and between myself and others who have see the fish, we’ve estimated it to be between 6 and 8 pounds. Seven pounds was my initial guess, and the pictures and video don’t really do it justice. I wish now that I had taken a photo where you could see just how big its mouth was, because that gave a much more accurate depiction.
Linnzi had nearly caught the fish before me using a Z-Man TRD Ned Rig, but she was using my crappie rod and the big fish broke the 6-pound line almost instantly. Soon, however, she would get a chance for redemption when she switched back to her baitcaster.
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For a $60 baitcaster, it was kind of junky. Even once it had been tuned, it had issues casting and eventually just quit reeling altogether. However, she got some decent action out of it, first catching a 3-pound largemouth and then an enormous channel catfish that I estimated to be about 12 pounds.
She caught her largemouth on the west side of the pond, fishing with a bladed swimbait near some grass. The fish tried to escape by swimming into the tall grass, so I had to help her navigate it from the opposite bank. She finally got him loose, and said “Oh, he’s a little guy.” I laughed, and told her that on most days a 3-pounder would be the biggest you could expect in Kansas waters.
As she walked over for me to unhook him, I hooked into a little dinker of a bass that weighed less than a pound, which allowed for us to do some funny photography comparing the three fish (my 20-inch bass was on a stringer).
Later, using that same swim bait, she hooked into the big catfish and struggled to get him to shore as her baitcaster gave out and decided to quit reeling on her. We had to bring the big cat in by hand, and I got down to the water to lift him out because I knew the line would snap if we tried to lift him out with the line.
She had me take a few pictures with the catfish (she’s a much better photographer than I am) and then we let it go and took the two bass home to clean and give to her dad as thanks for letting us fish.
Whenever someone lets you fish or hunt their property, it’s always good to offer them meat and be respectful of their land. Always clean up any trash you may have so they’ll let you come back again.
All in all, it was a fantastic day and I can’t wait to go back and fish another one of their ponds.
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