A few years back I was just coming into my own as a trophy Largemouth Hunter. Everything was really starting to click for me and I no longer felt like I was just casting blindly throughout the day but instead, proceeding to a spot with full confidence knowing that I was going to catch a good bass. It didn't just happen overnight though, it was the culmination of a lot of time on the water, scouting for fish, analyzing their behavior and trying different techniques. Sometimes I was rewarded but often times I wasn't. Despite that, I endured and continued my pursuit according to my fishing style, not according to what I had read in magazines or seen in videos but what I thought would work for the lake I was fishing. I'll be the first to admit that I had influences along the way from guys like Greg Ross, Mike Long or Butch Brown. They all had an impact on the way I approached chasing trophy bass, but probably not the impact you would expect, yet one of great value and rarely discussed. You see, it's relatively easy to look at what another angler is doing and imitate it. What isn't so easy is understanding why he may be fishing a particular bait, at a specific spot at a certain time of day. Imitating him may give you some immediate success but in reality it can be very detrimental to your fishing. That is the difference between someone who can scratch out a big fish here and a there versus someone who can consistently put big fish in the boat. They have a better understanding of why they are catching them and it has almost become predictable.
That’s just about where I was in the fall of 2012. I had developed a pattern that worked for me and it was predictable. Over the course of the next several months I started to gain even more confidence as the size of the fish started to increase. Before I knew it I had a new personal best of 13.25 pounds on my hands. Soon followed by the 12.72 lb Dock Monster, only to be blown away two weeks later with an even bigger fish and new personal best of 17.45 lbs. It was unreal, I had trusted my instincts, did my own thing and was reaping the reward. I sat long and hard that day thinking about it all, overcome with a plethora of emotions. I called down a few trusted friends (Andrew Hinkle and Mike Long) to share the stoke and help document the catch. In the hustle and bustle, making sure not to stress out the fish, I took some good pictures and released her healthy. As she swam away I had an unsettled feeling but couldn't quite identify what it was.
As we arrived back at the dock I heard Mike say, "Ahhh, I'm sorry, but we forgot to get her measurements". Right there, in that moment, nothing can bring you down but there it was, that unsettled feeling had just surfaced. I did my best to brush it off, but deep down I was devastated. I know the weight is impressive but this bass was truly awe-inspiring. Rarely do you see a fish of that length and girth in one package. As I dive further and further into this complex game and stare at a handful of photos of her, it haunts me. That day and that fish, as corny as it may sound really is the inspiration for the Working Class Zero measuring boards. It was a hard lesson learned chocked full of regret but it gave birth to something cool and functional. These days, I measure almost every decent fish I catch. Some just out of routine, some out of curiosity and others because they are legitimately great fish. Regardless, it's all repetition so that if there is a next time I won't get so caught up in the moment that I make the same mistake. For more info on the boards click here.