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    What’s the biggest bass ever taken on Kentucky Lake? The question has been asked by just about every angler who ever wet a hook here on the big pond.

    Last week Tom Hammon of Maury County just may have come up with the answer when is 12 pound, 11 ounce largemouth tipped the scales!

    He was fishing out of Mason’s Dock, located on the east side of the reservoir in Humphreys County. It was a buddy tournament hosted by Hickman County Bass Club and the fish was weighed on good digital scales.

    There have been a lot of fish tales spawned by anglers who hooked and lost big bass. Stop and consider that TVA’s largest reservoir is some 65 years old. It has 2,380 miles of shoreline and 160,000 surface acres where lures have been tossed time and again.

    Two-thirds of the reservoir lies in Tennessee and the rest in Kentucky. From Pickwick Dam on the southern end to Kentucky Dam up north, the water between the two seems as big as an ocean.

    It’s fair to say a million or more casts have been made by countless anglers since the conception of this mammoth lake. So when you talk about the biggest bass ever taken here and the fisherman who landed it; well, that’s saying something.

    “Tom was the last person to weigh-in during the tournament and we have scales that lock on a steady weight,” said Henry Norman of Bon Aqua, a member of the bass club who sent me a note and photo of the lunker largemouth earlier this week.

    “The fish had bulging eye balls the size of silver dollars,” is the way Norman described the trophy specimen. “It was the largest fish I had ever seen from Kentucky Lake in all my years of fishing and I’m 61 years of age and fished with my dad on the lake when I was 8 years old.”

    Once big fish stories are told there always seems to be a barrage of big fish questions: where was it caught; what did he catch it on?

    The story does indeed have an interesting twist but what big fish tale doesn’t?

    Meanwhile, big bass stories from yesteryear have been resurrected this week. In my quest to find out if Hammon’s lunker largemouth is indeed a Kentucky Lake record, several anglers were contacted.

    Seems there have been some dandies taken--- quite a few in the 10-pound range---but thus far, no one can recall one topping the recent catch.

    And what is the state record you ask? Records are made to be broken but Tennessee’s record bass, taken back in 1954, has stood tall for 56 years. It was a 14 pound, 8 ounce largemouth taken in Lawrence County by an angler named James Barnett.

    While Hammon’s recent accomplishment may not match the state record it seems---at least for the time being---to be the unofficial record bass taken from Kentucky Lake.

    Most states or lakes do not record catches on specific bodies of water but rather adhere to rigid criteria in establishing state records. So, there is no official way to verify the record catch from a lake such as Kentucky or any others across the state unless it was the official state record.

    One thing is official and that is the respect and admiration Hammon has from every bass fishermen who ever backlashed or made a cast in these parts.

    My attempt to contact Hammon the last few days has been unsuccessful yet I’ll keep casting his way until we link up. We’ll swap a few lines before I pop the “where and what lure” questions and I hope to share the big fish story with you later on in further detail.

    And that twist to the story I made mention of earlier? After a few photos Hammon released it back into the prolific waters of Kentucky Lake!

    That’s right; it’s swimming around out there somewhere so you could be the next big dog to land him.

    Odds are the elder statesman had been swimming the waters for many moons and managed to dodge a lot of hooks, gill nets, trotlines and what have you. If he could talk what stories he could tell.

    Makes you wonder what tricked the senior citizen into striking after all these years? If fish had beards this one would have looked like General Robert E. Lee.

    Right now a lot of bass fishermen are tipping their hat to Tom Hammon and his 12 pound, 11 ounce bass. Rightfully so.

    He and the fish may have made history last week.

    Let’s see now; big bass; caught and released.

    Wonder where most folks will be headed?


Record Bass Continued

 While several anglers have contacted me since the story came out no one can recall a bigger bass being taken despite going back to fish tales from yesteryear.

I forwarded the story to Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency fisheries biologist Tim Broadbent, who is over the Kentucky Lake area, to seek his opinion and comment. I was curious to know whether the fish might have been from the Florida strain as several years ago TWRA did stock a few and one of the locations they stocked was Harmon’s Creek, which wasn’t too far from where Hammon’s lunker largemouth was weighed in and likely caught.

“It is very difficult to tell a (Florida Largemouth Bass) FL LMB from pictures,” said Broadbent via email. “The guaranteed way is from electrophoresis and that usually just takes a fin clip.”

“My guess would be 12+ years (depends on strain),” continued Broadbent when asked the age possibility and whether or not he had ever shocked up or netted a bass that big in his biological surveys.

“We (TWRA) have never collected a fish that big, but one that was 582 mm (22") was 13 years old. As you know largemouth bass usually get fatter at older ages so the fish you have asked me about was probably in excess of 25" because it does not have a lot of girth.”

Based on that Hammon’s big bass was likely in the 14-year plus range as to a biological guess!

Meanwhile, Jimmy Williams, fellow scribe and former outdoor writer for the PI during the 1950’s and ‘60s era said he could not recall reports of any bass being taken in that weight range.

“Guides Herman Cravens caught a fish over 10 pounds as did Tommy Snow one time near the mouth of Granny’s Branch while using the old Houser Hell Diver,” commented Williams. “There were some nice fish in the old days but nothing like this one taken recently.”

Veteran anglers Jim Perry had never heard of a bigger fish. Neither had local bass angler Larry Dunlap who had taken a 10 pound bass himself in years past.

If readers know of a bigger fish that was actually weighed on certified scales please let me know. I’ve heard about some big fish that were not weighed but the guessing game does not hold water after the smoke clears!

Steve McCadams is a professional hunting and fishing guide here in the Paris Landing area. He has also contributed many outdoor oriented articles to various national publications.



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