At this point during the summer, we had been all over Florida and the gulf too. We had fun, that’s just how we like to do things. This year was a great year for bass fishing, the best sport known to man. Not only for the TV anglers and these bigger guys, but also a great year for Whitwell, my partner, and I. Here’s some backstory. I’ve always watched FLW and the MLF when they premiered on TV. Among the top FLW anglers in America, my idol, Scott Martin, is decorated with awards. Forrest Wood Cup champion, winning the Potomac tour event, and more importantly, following in his dad’s footsteps as a legendary angler. Every angler has a lake story that got them hooked (no pun intended). His was on his local lake, Lake Okeechobee. Lake Okeechobee is known for producing some monster bass. Luckily, I was getting to fish there as both a personal thing for me to do on vacation and getting a tour from the guy who knows these waters the best - Scott Martin himself. The day was setting up itself to be one of those I’ll remember for a long time.
July 7th, 2018. If there’s anything you want to know specifically about this day, I was excited. More excited than Mr. Bowen when he sees one of those calculators of his. I’d go as far as saying even more excited than getting hooked onto my personal best largemouth, which was huge. We finally arrived, and unloaded the boat after meeting Scott Martin. He’s one of the coolest people I have ever met. I could see why people have so much respect for this man in the angling community. Next thing I took note of was the lake itself. This place is gigantic. This isn’t your Big Creek reservoir, this is the second largest lake in the southeastern United States. You can’t even see the other edge of this place. There was any type of structure you could fish from. You could punch through mats and grass, roll straight off the bank, or even drop down in the deeper water with a nice crankbait. This was truly an angler’s dream. Anyone can be skeptical about a fishing tour. If you’ve ever been on a cheaper charter for saltwater, sometimes they’ll put you on a spot where there’s barely any decent fish. I had trust in Scott Martin, plus this wasn’t any saltwater tour. We were fishing for largemouth bass, some of the most competitive and fierce fish that are in freshwater. He put us on a nice spot for sure. The conditions were perfect: Slowly heating up day, early morning, and barely any clouds. Skies were nearly clear.
You could see the sky’s reflection on my reel, that’s how well I had taken care of it. I pulled out my best baitcaster setup, which is one of the best on the market. The classic white Duckett rod with a nice Lews reel, winn grips on the knobs too. First cast, going through some light grass, nothing to get tangled in, this isn’t frog flipping and pitching. This was serious, I wanted to see what Okeechobee produced with my own eyes. I also had an urge to prove my worth to Martin himself. That first cast I was hooked onto something that wasn’t tiny. This was at least three pounds. What I was throwing was the key, but the weather played a huge role in this too. Next cast, another bass. It seemed like I was onto something, reminding me of Edwin Evers streak later that summer on the MLF Bass Pro Tour. These weren’t comparable to my best, just yet anyways. This streak lasted for a while. This is where the fun begins, I thought to myself. I felt a huge tug on my line and through the rod blank itself. I revved back and set the hook hard. The fish was running with it, turning drag. My heart was pounding. The drag was clicking. I was pulling this thing in fast enough that I had barely enough time to catch a glimpse of the bass before it had gotten to the boat.
If this fish wasn’t my personal best, it had to be super close to it. The dorsal fin on the fish was gigantic, and so was the back of this fish. It was a giant. Instead of risking my rod, I pulled this one close and grabbed it by the lip. I knew it was way too risky to try to boat flip a behemoth like this. The adrenaline was still pumping through me. I removed the hook, and simply stood there. I admired the fish in a lot of ways. Its mouth could fit a football in it, and its stomach made it seem like he had ate one. This was a picture-worthy fish, and when I get a picture with a fish, you know I’m proud of it. One of the best days of fishing in my life. Catching something huge and memorable with your idol right there is better than catching 20 small fish, any day.
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