Anglers catching super-big bass in Central Florida
Tuesday, February 15, 2011
Media contact: Bob Wattendorf, 850-488-0520, x17245
"Whoosh! Then another whoosh."
That is how Stacy Twiggs, the senior manager of
B.A.S.S. Federation Nation and Youth B.A.S.S., described the sound
of a huge bass grabbing and running with the spinner bait. He was
sure the anglers he'd just met and encouraged moments before had
snagged a gator, so he motored over to help.
What he saw was much more exciting. His longtime
fishing buddy, Zack Mack, from Murfreesboro, Tenn., hooked a
14-pound, 2-ounce Florida largemouth bass on Lake Kissimmee, close
to the mouth of the Kissimmee River. Mack and his fishing partner
were on their sixth fishing trip in five years to Florida - the
Fishing Capital of the World.
They love fishing the shallow, grassy flats and
landed this behemoth bass on Feb. 2 with a half-ounce spinner bait
and casting reel. Mack had 50-pound-test braided line and had set
the drag tight, but he said the first run stripped 20 yards of line
as the bass came out of the water three times trying to toss the
The previous day, they had fished Lake Tohopekaliga
and weren't satisfied. However, Twiggs told them he'd had a great
day on Lake "Toho," so they were wondering about their technique.
Twiggs assured them they were in an excellent spot and the weather
and lunar cycle were just right for a memorable day of fishing.
Moments later, he was snapping a photo of them releasing the
"We release all of our bass," Mack said. "We are
serious about taking care of the resource and keeping trophies in
the gene pool."
Mack will receive a "Big Catch" angler recognition
certificate and 10-pounder club "Trophy Award" pin from the Florida
Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), with a "released"
endorsement. The Big Catch program recognizes anglers who catch
quality-size freshwater fish in Florida. Anglers receive a
customized certificate featuring any of 33 different species of
freshwater fish that exceeds either minimum qualifying weights or
total lengths (see MyFWC.com/Fishing). The program also features
"Specialist," "Master" and "Elite Angler" awards for those earning
multiple Big Catch awards.
The FWC is finalizing its Long-Term Black Bass
Management Plan, incorporating public input with advice from a
group representing a variety of freshwater-related businesses and
interests. One of the most popular aspects is creating a new
program to better document catches of trophy bass and encourage
catch-and-release by offering anglers incentives. The trophy bass
reporting program will provide additional information to biologists
and help the management and conservation of trophy bass
Lake Kissimmee has been the scene of many
innovative fishery management efforts over the years. Mack's big
fish and the 30 fish he and his partner released the next day
exemplify the quality of Florida bass fisheries.
This wasn't a fluke. Just a week before, Gerald
Swindle earned his first B.A.S.S. tournament win by catching 80
pounds, 13 ounces of bass at the three-day Bass Pro Shops Southern
Open on Lake Tohopekaliga.
"My partner caught a 9-pounder on his second cast
and another 9-pounder on his fifth cast," Swindle said.
In writing about the tournament for BassMaster.com,
Charlie Hartley concluded, "So if your goal is a giant bass, one
you can brag about for years, put Florida on your list of places to
visit. It's back!"
If you want to hear that magic "whoosh," maybe it's
time to wet a line in the Kissimmee Chain, or try out Orange Lake
(http://orangelake.myfwc.com/). Anglers catching
Orange Lake bass weighing 10 pounds or more for the next few months
not only receive a Big Catch certificate and Trophy Award pin, but
also earn a chance to fish with TV celebrity and renowned
tournament angler Shaw Grigsby.