June 23, 2014 Share

Tales of Giant Bass

Originally Published on Jan 11, 2012 “From the Dock” NBC Sports

I love a great fish story, especially when they end with giant bass. Here are a couple that keep me warm on cold winter nights.

Dick Hart Monster

My buddy Dick Hart, who retired after a successful career in banking, dedicates most of his free time these days to chasing bass and other finned creatures in waters near his Dallas home. Dick has landed more than a couple dozen truly giant bass in his lifetime, and before this day was over he’d land another over 10 pounds.

I was in Dallas late last winter for the opening of a new Cabela’s store in Allen, so Dick invited me to stay an extra day and fish a small lake that a friend of his owns about 50 miles east of Dallas. The morning of trip dawned clear and cool, but the wind was blowing 25-30, with gusts of 35 MPH or more. Dick is now in his 80s and a bouncing boat can be tough to fish from, and to be completely honest I was struggling to keep the small aluminum pram we fished that day, in the best positions for Dick.

We started the morning fishing some deep brush piles, but when fishless the fish hour. About 10:00, some bass started busting bait off a weed flat on the other side of the later so we motored over and landed 7 on spinnerbaits (Dick) or rattle baits (me), though none broke the 3-pound mark. So we moved shallow and worked some heavy cover near shore, flippin’ worms and Texas-rigged Chigger Craws to wood.

It was Dick who suggested we fish the control structure near the dam face, which was built of concrete and featured a metal railing surrounding it. Dick cast a Senko in a color unknown to the structure, let it fall unweighted, then tensed as his line jumped. When Dick set the hook, the fish took off so fast Dick nearly lost his rod, and when it jumped seconds later, I nearly lost my lunch. My first thought it was a 12; my next thought was more practical…”How can I get the net (which was on the floor near Dick’s feet) without capsizing the tiny boat.

Dick fought the bass like the expert he isand within minutes it was near the boat. It pulled so hard it actually turn the craft into the stiff winter! I captured it in the next as it made a labored pass near my position in the bow. Dick let out a scream that even 80-year-olds find giant bass exciting.

We weighed the big basin the net to reduce stress. It pulled the needle of Dick’s Boca Grip down to 11-8ish. We then pulled it from the net, took the photo you see above, and released it. We then weighed the net, subtracted it weight from the previous total and figured Dick fish went somewhere between 10-2 and 10-3. Like I said, a giant!

My First Monster Ever

In the mid 1990s, I was in north Florida taping a television show on a reclaimed phosphate pit that was highly regarded for big bass. But as taping trips are prone to do, this one blew up. An early-spring cold front dropped temps so low that ice formed in the rod guides the first day fished, and while things improved on day two we still were battling high winds.

And as expected, fishing was tough.

Late the afternoon of day 2, I switched to a Carolina-rig and lizard (pumpkin chartreuse) down a point when I had a crushing strike just a couple feet into a cast. That’s when things got weird. Instead of moving off slowly with the bait, the fish turned and ran hard toward open water—-which meant it was running directly at the boat. I reeled hard to catch up to it, and then, at the hook set, this giant of a bass goes immediately skyward literally five feet from the boat. I was stunned at the size of the fish…it looked like a striped green pumpkin with a gaping mouth and I will freely admit from that point on I was shaking like a leaf during the rest of the fight.

The pre-spawn female was so fat that it didn’t fight much or for very long, however, there were some anxious moments at the side of the boat. When my buddy final swung the giant over the gunnel, I feel in love with Florida bass, especially monster Floridas. Weight? She went 11-2!—Steve



Tags Ask Steve, Bass