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Georgia Angler Catches Hall of Fame Bass at Rodman

Georgia angler Dwight Whitmore with 14-1 largemouth that he caught and released at Rodman Reservoir.

As the St. Johns Riverkeeper extorts the city of Jacksonville to help in a campaign to destroy Rodman Reservoir, the 9,000-acre impoundment on the Ocklawaha River continues to confirm its reputation as a world-class bass fishery.

Georgia angler Dwight Whitemore recently caught and released a 14-pound, 1-ounce largemouth there while fishing with guide Sean Rush.

“This lake is truly one of the best bass fishing and wildlife sanctuaries in the world,” said Rush, who added that he loves showing his customers the eagles and other wildlife that live there.

“During a remarkable three-day bass trip with Rush, the visiting Georgia anglers caught-and-released 66 bigmouths, which included two fish each weighing 7 pounds, 10 ounces; an 8-pound, 8-ouncer; and others weighing 9-pounds-2; 9-pounds-12; 10-pounds-10; 11-pounds-9; plus the massive 14-pound-1 behemoth,” reports Bob McNally in The Times-Union.

 “When I got hold of that fish I knew it was a monster, and we started going crazy in the boat,” Rush said. “I told my anglers it would weigh between 12 and 15 pounds, and they just went wild, high-fiving and back slapping. They knew it was a fish most anglers only dream about catching.”

Once boated, the fish immediately was entered in Florida’s TrophyCatch program.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission reports:

Although not required to verify a Hall of Fame fish (larger than 13 pounds), FWC fisheries biologist Travis Tuten came off holiday leave with his kids to witness the catch, obtain additional measurements and take a fin clip for genetic analyses. They were also able to video the live release of the first Hall of Fame entry for Season 3 of TrophyCatch (visit to see the video).

As a Hall of Fame entrant, Whitmore will receive a free replica of his bass, produced by New Wave Taxidermy, $200 in gift cards from TrophyCatch partners like Bass Pro Shops, a Fitzgerald rod and a sweatshirt-sunglasses combo from SpiderWire™. Right now, he also is in contention for the TrophyCatch championship ring that will be awarded by the American Outdoors Fund for the largest verified bass at the end of Season 3 (Oct. 1, 2014 to Sep. 30, 2015).

During their three-day trip, Whitmore also caught and released four additional bass that are eligible for other TrophyCatch awards, and his buddy caught two more.

People can participate in this citizen-science effort and help encourage live release of trophy bass by registering at TrophyCatch. Simply registering makes people eligible for a Phoenix bass boat, powered by Mercury and equipped with a Power-Pole anchoring system and Navionics charting.


The Power of Backing

“Fishing is much more than fish.  It is the great occasion when we may return to the fine simplicity of our forefathers.” ---Herbert Hoover

“Put backing on your line; even if you never use it. It helps you dream.” ---Jimmy Moore

“More than half the intense enjoyment of fly-fishing is derived from the beautiful surroundings, the satisfaction felt from being in the open air, the new lease of life secured thereby, and the many, many pleasant recollections of all one has seen, heard and done.” --- Charles F. Orvis

Why We Fish --- Reel Wisdom From Real Fishermen

“Even though I saw the move coming and sunk the rod to the grips, the fish broke through the surface, pausing on the taut line and loaded fiberglass. There it was, just for an instant, an eye and a mouth. And back down it went, pulling drag and wiping a dozen years of fishing experience from my consciousness.”  ---George Kramer

“The gods do not deduct from man's allotted span the hours spent in fishing. “ --- Babylonian proverb

“All the romance of trout fishing exists in the mind of the angler and is in no way shared by the fish.” --- Harold F. Blaisdell


The Best Day

I caught this 5-pound-plus smallmouth during my best day of fishing. Read about it in Why We Fish.

We say that bad fishing days don’t exist. But that’s not true. What we really mean is that we never have bad days on the water, no matter how uncooperative the fish are.

Exploring the reason for that is one of the reasons that I decided to write this book, and you can check elsewhere in these pages for what I’ve discovered from my own experience and that of fishing friends and acquaintances.

But for now, let’s just say that is the reality: A bad day of fishing is an oxymoron, like “jumbo shrimp” and “living dead.”

Some days, however, are superior to others, and one of the primary explanations for that is the fish are biting.They’re even better when the bite is extraordinary. And the best when that bite is totally unanticipated, which leads me to my best day of fishing ever.

I’ve had a few other extraordinary days, including several on Mexico’s Lake El Salto, as well as a couple in Canada and Costa Rica. But hopeful expectations accompanied those days on the water.

That certainly was not the case for this early summer day angling for smallmouth bass out of Door County, Wisconsin. With several different guides who gave it their best, I had been trying to fish the Green Bay side of Lake Michigan for several days. But an unusually cold and brutal wind for June persisted out of the west, blowing right into our faces.

In short, we worked hard to avoid and/or navigate the rough waters and catch a few bass. Going into my last day, the trip had been most unmemorable in terms of angling success.

 (This is an excerpt from “The Best Day,” an essay in my book, Why We Fish--- Reel Wisdom From Real Fishermen.)


Ontario's Lake Simcoe Yields 8-Pound Smallie

Dave Chong with 8.05-pound Lake Simcoe smallmouth. Photo by Wil Wegman

Ontario’s Lake Simcoe continues to live up to its reputation as the best smallmouth bass lake in Canada, if not North America. Dave Chong of the Aurora Bassmaster Club earned the latest gold star for the Ontario fishery, as he caught and released an 8.05-pound smallie in late October.

“At first I thought it was a laker (lake trout) because it was so strong and peeled drag seeral times without ever attempting to jump,” said Chong, a veteran tournament angler who was fishing in 27 feet of water with a Lucky Craft Pointer deep diver. “I was not sure what it really was until we saw this gorgeous bass about 15 feet below the boat. I thought it was over 5, maybe 6 pounds.”

Chong knows big smallmouth bass when he sees them, having caught 32 of 7 pounds or more in Simcoe. His previous best was 7.5.

Plenty of other anglers have tangled with hefty bronzebacks there as well. In 2010, Ontario’s sixth largest inland lake yielded a five-bass limit of 31.5 pounds during the Bass Pro Shops Simcoe Open, hosted by the Aurora club. During that same event, an 8.05 also was weighed in. That is believed to be the heaviest bass recorded in a Canada tournament.

What’s going on at Simcoe, a far north lake where the winters are long and the growing season short?

Chong believes forage is the key. The fishery sandwiched between Lakes Huron and Ontario always has offered smallmouth bass plenty to eat, via smelt, herring, emerald shiners, sunfish, and crawfish. But the migration of round gobies into the lake from Ontario seems to have kicked up growth a notch, as it has in other smallmouth fisheries.

“I know that there are double digit smallmouth bass in Lake Simcoe, and believe that the world record will be broken on it one day,” he said. 

(This article appeared originally in B.A.S.S. Times.)