Among the best bass fishermen in the United States it is not difficult to find a majority singing the praises of the tidal Potomac River. The Potomac, after all, is one of the top bass producers in the country and probably the finest river for tidal largemouth bass anywhere.
However, those among us who'd started to think the Potomac was nearly invincible in matters of astonishing tournament results whenever the cast-for-cash crowd arrived in town, will be utterly amazed at what happened in a huge Texas reservoir during a Bass Anglers Sportsman Society contest a couple of weeks ago.
It happened during the $196,000 Bassmaster Texas Central Invitational on Sam Rayburn Lake.
As the BASS tournament officials sat in their headquarters by the lake in Brookeland, Texas, Bud Pruitt entered the windswept, man-made Rayburn Lake and proceeded to whip the local bass population. Pruitt, 30, slowly retrieved one of three favorite 1/2-ounce Rat-L-Trap crankbaits - the first was a blue/chrome model, another all chartreuse, the third blood-red - through scattered hydrilla grasses that stood in five feet of water. Occasionally, he'd supplement his choice of lures with a 1/2-ounce chartreuse/white spinnerbait.
Pruitt, who comes from Houston, caught bass in the middle of a 200-by-400-yard area in the middle of a bay where the underground terrain rose sharply from 10 to five feet. Patches of aquatic vegetation sat on the edge of the shallow water at the edge of the deep dropoff. Pruitt committed all such information to his memory banks, then put it to good use later.
As the first day ended, Pruitt came back to the weigh station with a legal limit of five bass that, under the tournament rules, had to measure at least 14 inches long. They easily did, but nobody said anything what with over 192 limits of bass having been caught that day.
Then the lake breezes picked up speed and two boats were swamped. Things quickly became so dangerous that the second day of the originally scheduled three-day tournament was canceled. Sam Rayburn showed its worst side, as it frequently does.
On the third and final day of the abbreviated tournament, Pruitt again went to several of his favorite spots and caught a quick limit of bass, then culled fish the rest of the day until he was satisfied and returned to the weigh station to have the bass tallied and released.
In two days, Pruitt had caught 10 largemouth bass that weighed a total of 53 pounds, 3 ounces.
Yes, that comes to roughly 5 1/4 pounds per fish according to the official BASS scales.
Dewey Kendrick, the tournament director for the BASS organization was speechless not only because of Pruitt's amazing feat, but also about the catches of the runners-up. Remember, the typical weight for a standard national, three-day, 15-bass tournament often does not exceed 40 pounds, never mind 53-plus pounds for only 10 bass in two days.
In second place with a 10-fish limit was 4-time world champion, Rick Clunn, of Montgomery, Texas. …