AUSTIN, Texas — Sometimes it’s a swirl. This time it’s more of a disturbance, a slight movement on the surface that you could easily dismiss as just the breeze, unless you’re looking for it. And we’re looking for it.
From the middle of our small aluminum boat, my fishing partner sets the hook and immediately says, “Big fish.”
Actually, due to the effort required to combat this creature, his words come out through clenched teeth and sound more like “biggg fishh-uhhh.”
Moments later a monster largemouth – green-black on the back, white on the belly with eyes bulging – tries to launch her great heft free of the lake. She only succeeds in getting about half her body airborne before splashing back into three feet of water near the tip of the small island we’re fishing. She’s not far from the hollowed-out sandy depression where she must have been laying her eggs.
At this point, everybody is moving. One is using the trolling motor to turn the boat 90 degrees toward the fish. I’m grabbing the net to capture her when she comes alongside.
And of course, the angler is fighting the fish, which is in control of everything, whether she knows it or not.
It ends suddenly when the fish makes an ill-advised jump that lands her tail-first into the net. I heft her aboard, and we all begin to make predictions about her weight.
We agree on 12 pounds. You get that from her bulk, but also from the eyes. Something happens when largemouths pass 10 pounds. Their eyes bulge in a way that says, “Look at me. I’m huge.”
Of course, the eyes can deceive, so we bring out the Boga-Grip. The great fish pulls the scale down to only 10.5 pounds. Anyone would be thrilled with that double-digit bass, and we all are. If there’s any disappointment, I can’t find it. You just want big to be really big.
The neat thing about this particular fish, just as with all the other big bass we catch on this trip, is that she hit a watermelon-red flake worm that was half as long as she was. The appropriately named Strike King Iguana is 12 inches of soft plastic that’s becoming a go-to springtime offering for big bass.
There’s no denying the effectiveness of the giant lures anglers are using today, whether they’re three-quarter ounce spinner baits or imitation rainbow trout that weigh a pound. Or, as in this case, a humongous, spongy plastic lizard that is hard to beat when bass are on the beds and perhaps slow to bite other lures.
You’ll pass up a few smaller fish throwing the giant stuff but that’s not always the case. We caught 12-inch fish on the Iguana, too.
The Iguana comes in smaller sizes. Strike King makes an 8-inch version called a Rage Tail Lizard, and Zoom has an 8-inch version of its popular 6-inch lizard as well. Both catch lots of fish. All these giant lures can be fished with a weight right on the bottom, or pulled in an up and down movement back to the boat.
You can even fish without a weight right on the surface.
There’s something about those giant lizards and their plastic worm counterparts that seem to be irresistible to big largemouth bass.