For the most part, many of the world’s best fishermen — the 2013 Bassmaster Elite Series gang — spent all day Thursday hoping to catch a just a few keeper bass.
And a few is exactly what many of them caught.
In fact, a full 13 of the 100 anglers competing in the season opening Sabine River Challenge B.A.S.S. tournament near Orange, Texas got skunked.
As in zero, zip, nada, nothing, forget about it.
And we’re not talking about piscatorial slouches either. In fact, those unlucky 13 included four-time Bassmaster Classic champ Rick Clunn — voted several years ago as the best professional bass angler of all-time — and one-time Classic champ Takahiro Omori.
Even the day’s best angler didn’t have much to write home about as Dean Rojas topped the Day One effort with five fish that weighed 15 pounds, 10 ounces. A ho-hum day at most Elite Series events, that limit gave Rojas just under a two-pound lead.
How tough was Thursday in southeast Texas? Let Alton Jones’ Facebook post from Thursday night tell you: “I’ve never been so proud of a limit weighing 7-10 in my life,” he wrote. “Thank you Lord!”
All of the above is kind of ironic considering where the rest of this fish tale is going. If the opening bell of the 2013 Elite Series is wickedly tough, then that seems to be an exception to the rule concerning how the spring fishing season is going so far this year.
Which is big, bigger, and biggest concerning record fish being caught locally and afar.
First up is word of a new Bonham City Lake record reportedly caught on Thursday. The fish — according to information on the www.texasfishingforum.com/ Web site — says that the bass caught on Thursday weighs in at a reported 12.8 pounds.
If that information proves to be true, the as of yet unidentified angler would break the June 5, 2010 lake record at Bonham. That fish, caught by Dale Anderson, weighed in at 11.50 pounds.
Next up is even bigger fishing news, this time from north of the Red River.
Just days after word of a nearly 13-pound lake record bass being caught at Grand Lake (site of the recent 2013 Bassmaster Classic) news of a new Oklahoma state record largemouth bass comes from the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.
Late Thursday, ODWC announced that Dale Miller of Panama, OK broke the mark at Cedar Lake on Wednesday, March 13 with a brute that weighed 14 pounds, 13.7 ounces.
Miller caught the new Sooner state record bass at 11:30 a.m. as he fished an Alabama Rig thrown on a Hawg Hunter Bait Co. rod and Abu Garcia Revo reel. The A-Rig fish measured 26 1/8 inches in length and 23 inches in girth.
Amazingly enough, the Miller state record largemouth is the second benchmark pulled from Cedar Lake in just less than a year. Cedar Lake grabbed the Sooner State big bass headlines last March 23 when Benny Williams, Jr. of Poteau reeled in a 14-pound, 12.3-ounce largemouth.
“Last month, I bought a fishing license, and this month I have the state record for the largemouth bass,” said a very happy Miller.
Gene Gilliland, assistant chief of fisheries for ODWC, isn’t surprised that Cedar Lake in southeastern Oklahoma has produced such big largemouth bass for anglers in recent years.
“They grow pretty fast down in that part of the state due to the long growing season,” said Gilliland. “Cedar Lake has produced several double-digit fish in the last five years.
“The U.S. Forest Service played a role in the success story when they renovated Cedar Lake several years ago. This renovation created a ‘new lake environment’ that along with the Florida-strain genetics, long growing season, good habitat and abundant forage has led Cedar Lake to become an outstanding bass fishery.”
The final big fish tale — the biggest by far of this story — comes not from Texas or Oklahoma but from the state of Alabama.
That’s where an International Game Fish Association world record was apparently set on the final day of February when 65-year old James R. Bramlett of Dora, AL caught a truly mammoth linesider on the Black Warrior River.
Bramlett’s 69-pound, 9.8-ounce landlocked freshwater striped bass was 45.5 inches long, had a girth of 37.75 inches, and appears destined to become the new benchmark for landlocked sweetwater stripers.
If certified in coming months as a new IGFA world record, Bramlett’s fish will break the current mark of 67 pounds, 8 ounces. That record is currently owned by Hank Ferguson who set the mark in 1992 at O’Neill Forebay near Los Banos, Calif.
So what’s the moral of all of these big fish tales?
Apparently that it’s time to go fishing because the fish are biting and they are plenty big.
As long as you’re not an Elite Series angler in southeastern Texas, that is.