I was fishing with Vance Sharp at Bartletts Ferry back in the mid 1970's. We had found some bass on a point and had caught a few - but they stopped biting. We noticed a big gar swimming around and wondered if it made the bass stop biting.
I picked up a light spinning rod with a Little Cleo spoon on it and cast toward the gar - really trying to scare it off since I had six pound line on the reel. The gar hit the spoon and I hooked him just right, in the corner of the mouth, away from its teeth. I fought that gar for over 15 minutes, trying to get it to the boat. When it finally got close I picked up a rag and grabbed the gar by the bill and got it in the boat. I used a pair of needle nose pliers to calm it down - drove them through its head with the paddle.
Before "releasing" it, I measured and weighed it - the fish was 48 inches long and weighed 14 pounds. It is still the biggest fish I have ever caught!
By the way - the bass started biting again - we caught several dozen and brought ten home - they weighed a total of 30 pounds. It is still one of my best days ever bass fishing as well as gar fishing!
The first summer I was married, Linda and I spent lots of time at Clark's Hill - the whole month of June! We were both teaching and had the summer off. I was fishing out of a big outdrive ski boat back in those days - had rigged a trolling motor up front on a rack that fit over the running light. I sat on it and drove it with my feet. We trolled a lot too, it was the easiest way!
I kept telling my father I was going to catch a 12 pound bass that summer - that was my goal. He said if I did, he would have it mounted for me. You gotta remember that I had never caught one over 8 pounds at that time but I was 22 years old - I had a lot of confidence!
Linda asked how big a bass she had to catch for him to have it mounted for her and dad said an 8 pounder would do. You guessed it - a few weeks later, Linda caught an 8 pound, 10 ounce bass while trolling. It was amazing - it jumped 4 times before we landed it! Dad was more proud than we were, I think. That was in 1972 - I finally broke 8 pounds in 1978, six years later, and still don't have my 12 pounder!
Another catch Linda made really sticks in my memory. We were fishing at night one Labor Day weekend about fifteen years ago. Usually there is some light at night - you can see a little. That night was so dark you literally could not see your hand in front of your face - we could not even see the outline of the trees against the sky.
When Linda said she thought she had a strike, I told her to stop thinking and set the hook! She grunted and said it was a big one. I figured she didn't really know, but I heard a huge splash when the fish jumped and knew she was right! I felt around in the boat and found the net, and put it over the side of the boat, but had no idea what to do. I was afraid to turn on a light, knowing the fish would really run from it, and probably break her line.
So there we were, me with the net over the side, helpless, trying to give Linda instructions when I did not have any idea what to do. She said she thought the fish was near the boat when it suddenly jumped, spraying water all over me - and landed in the net! I felt rather than saw it! That 7 pound, 10 ounce bass hangs on our wall beside her 8 pound, ten ounce bass. It hit a black plastic worm fished on the bottom - how in the world do bass find a black worm on that dark a night?????