Lunker Lore: Jean Wilson 15-0 lbs.

If you are like me you love hearing fish stories, and there's not much better than fish tales that include giant bass! In this series we'll be hearing from anglers who've landed trophy class bass and try unearth a few nuggets of wisdom from their encounter with the fish of a lifetime!

Below is Jean Wilson's story of one such bass caught in Mach of 2017:

It was a balmy afternoon in north Florida spent in my kayak, catching Suwannee and largemouth bass and enjoying the beauty of the late winter on the river. A nasty looking thunderstorm was approaching so I decided to make a few casts in a previously productive spot before calling it a day. The area was about a two foot depth small clearing and depression just outside a little side creek where I had caught an eleven pound bass six weeks earlier.

I made one cast, buzzing a five inch paddletail on a 1/8 ounce weighted swimbait hook at the top pretty quickly, upstream into eel grass and clumps of wild rice, retrieving it downstream with the flow.

The giant bass exploded out of the water and on the lure so quickly and aggressively that I don’t even consciously remember setting the hook. She dove immediately down into the grass and when I felt the heft and strength of her body pull drag I knew she had to be a huge fish.

My heart was racing and I was holding my breath hoping that she did not escape. One of the common ways that I lose big bass is when they dive into the stalks of lily pads or, in this case, a stalk of wild rice. Keeping the line taut, I pulled myself over to the spot where I hoped she was still hooked. Until I saw the fish I was not even certain that it was a bass. It could have been a huge bowfin. As I cleared the grass and peered below I caught sight of a true monster river bass and my jaw dropped in amazement at her size! When I reached down and grabbed her jaw and brought her to the surface I was astounded by her immense head and body. She was just so huge all over and unlike anything I’d seen before. She was truly in a class of her own!

When I lifted her into the kayak and onto the hawg trough measuring board I had to prop up the plastic board with my feet to prevent it from breaking under her weight. My whole body was shaking with excitement as I quickly documented her length at 28 inches and girth at 22 inches.

In order to qualify for the catch and release TrophyCatch Florida records, a picture of the entire bass on a scale must be submitted. I had to stand in the Coosa HD, hold the giant bass on the scale with one hand and take a picture from above with my phone camera. I could barely hold her up since I was still shaking with excitement and from the strain of her weight. All the while I was in a hurry to get the proper pictures and get her back in the water and paddle back to the ramp before the violent storm approached.

A fifteen pound river mama! What a thrill! My personal best and far exceeding anything I could imagine!

With the critical pictures taken I released her back to her spring fed waters. She slipped quietly away into the safety and maze of the undulating eel grass.

(Jean's Story originally published at: 15lb River Bass)

Follow up big bass questions:

Q: How often do you fish? How long do you fish on an average outing?

A: I fish almost daily year round for time periods ranging from 2-8 hours

Q: What percentage of your time on the water are you specifically targeting giant bass?

A: I am always hoping for trophy bass but am thrilled to catch the small ones, too. I like enjoying the whole experience of being out on the water. The sights and sounds and changing vegetation and observing the behavior of the fish and other animals. I don’t use electronics so I’m relying on observation and that’s a huge part of the joy of figuring them out for me.

Q: Do you believe a world record is currently swimming out there?

A: Yes, I do believe there are potential world records out there. Definitely state records. And most positively, personal records!

Q: What’s your favorite big bass bait?

A: I’ve caught all my double digit bass on either the paddletail, Zoom magnum speed worm or a hollow body frog. My favorite is the paddletail due to its versatility. It can be hopped, buzzed, waked, swam, ripped, dropped in holes.

Q: What’s your favorite time of day to target big bass?

A: Even though I feel my chances for big bass are probably consistently better at dawn, dusk and evening I can’t always fish at those times. I’ve caught some of my biggest bass in the middle of the day in the heat of summertime.

Q: What kind of structure do you favor for big bass fishing?

A: I favor different types of structure on my prairie lakes depending on the time of year. Thick pads and mats during summer, grass, brush and weed beds in spring and fall and winter. On my springfed rivers the structure and vegetation is pretty constant. Eel grass, wild rice and bank hedges and overhangs.

Q: How deep do you usually target them?

A: The depth that I caught the four double digit and other large river bass has been less than 4 feet. My big lake bass have also been fairly shallow. 2-10 feet.

Looking for more of Jean's insights? Or the story of this 12 lber? Check out some of her additional blog posts at:

Two DD's in a week

Midday Maddness

One of those days

Have you caught a giant bass over 12 lbs? We'd love to hear from you. Reach out to us at

Interested in more big bass wisdom? Check out the book Lunker Lore at!

Featured Posts
Recent Posts