For the second year in a row, it seems, an angler fishing a California tournament has boated a world-record spotted bass.
This time around, Nevada fisherman Lou Ferrante used a Yamamoto grub on a darter head in late February to catch a 10.95-pound spot at Bullards Bar Reservoir, a 4,700-acre fishery in the Sierra Nevada foothills. Previous record is 10.48.
Of course, Ferrante’s trophy must be certified by the International Game Fish Association, the official record keeper. Taken in about 20 feet of water, the spotted bass actually weighed 11.20 at the Great Basin Bassers tournament, but the scale used was not certified. At a certified scale in Truckee, it weighed 10.95.
In February 2014, Keith Bryan caught his 10.48 in a California Trails pro/am event at 12,400-acre New Melones Lake in central California.
Perhaps appropriately, a tournament angler also caught the record spot before Bryan. Fishing Pine Flat Lake, Bryan Shishido bested a 10.27 during an American Bass Big Valley team tournament.
Not long ago, California Sportsman included Bullards Bar and New Melones in an article about five fisheries that could yield “the biggest spotted bass ever.” Others included Lake McClure, Whiskeytown, and Shasta.
Why do spots grow so large in these lakes? They’re gobbling up stocked kokanee (landlocked salmon) and trout, a tactic similar to what hefty largemouths employ in southern California lakes.
“Spotted bass in most of our reservoirs have figured out ‘We don’t need to care about shad balls. We don’t need to come to the banks to feed, We can just eat kokanee,’ and that’s what they focus on,” said Bub Tosh of Paycheck Baits. “They school up like yellowfin tuna. You’ll stumble across a little wolf pack of giant spots and it’ll stop your heart.”