A few years ago I met a guy who had the big bass bug like me. Not just the bass cold, but full blown bass fever. I have only met a few people in my life that I believe understand and see bass fishing the way I do. Those few include Aaron Martens and Rick Clunn; true bass hunters in the game of bass fishing, but a while back, I met a younger guy that reminded me of myself in my early 30’s. More specifically, he was driven and passionate enough to dedicate himself to the pattern, no matter how long it would take. He is very independent on the water, which is a huge key to big bass success.
The very first time I went fishing with this young passionate guy was a very interesting day. I had a decision to make. I had been on a wacky rig Senko bite for some time, netting some monster bass between 5 and 10lbs. I wasn’t sure if I could trust someone with a hard earned bite, mainly because most people will not respect your bite down the road. Well I went with my gut and trusted this young guy with one of my big bass bites. I landed an 8lb. & 11lb. bass on the wacky rig Senko and just blew this young guy’s mind. On the ride back to my house from the lake you could tell he was thinking, trying to understand what the heck just happened. He asked me just a few questions, but they were key questions and I knew right then this guy was a thinker. One of the questions he asked me was about the time of year, and another was about the weather and why and how I thought it correlated with the big bass bite he had witnessed. I answered all his questions honestly, but held back just a bit of what I really wanted to say, I wanted him to earn it and I could feel he wanted it that way too.
I believe in pointing someone in the right direction, but helping them to much takes away any of the experience of catching a big bass, not something I’m willing to do. I want everyone to get the full feeling and not feel I handed it them.
The next day we met up and headed back to the same lake. I was a little curious as to what this young guy would do. Would he fish my pattern? Or would he adjust?
Well, as soon as we got to the lake and he grabbed his fishing gear that question was answered, he went right to the swimbait. I’ve got to admit I was shocked and impressed at the same time. This young guy most likely thought about the bite all night and saw something in the pattern. Almost everyone would have been right next to me dropping a Senko but not this young guy, he had seen something that I did not and two hours later had landed a 5, 10, and 11lber on the swimbait, not the Senko. And as night fell once again we left the lake and two incredible bites…and yes I did catch some more donkeys on the Senko..
This young guy, whose name is Mike Gilbert, impressed my old butt and that does not happen to me very often in the bass fishing world. I was truly impressed that Mike found his own bite and respected mine. Ask yourself what you would have done?
About a year ago Mike was on a new chapter of his big bass fishing journey and had bought a small 16′ aluminum boat so he could get out on some of the bigger waters of San Diego county. I was in my boat one afternoon on Lake Otay in Chula Vista Ca. and approached Mike to see how he was doing and he had no idea he was sitting on one of the key spots of the lake. I noticed he was watching his meter and kept saying “this spot is loaded.” While his intuition had put him in the right spot, it was just a matter of time until he would figure it out.
Over the next few months, Mike would call and tell me about the bite he had found, or the frustration of knowing he was on the bass, but could not get them to bite. About six months into the game, using his new boat and expanding the surface acres of water to fish, I started to see and hear things change. He was figuring out these big bass, recognizing patterns, and understanding the timing of where he should be, along with the correct angle and lure speeds. When Mike finally figured exactly what swimbait size and color, it was Game On!
First he started sticking 8lbers, then I would get a text: a 9lber, then 12lber, then 13lber! Then on February 16th of 2013, I got a call from Mike at around 9:00 a.m. that went to my voice mail. It was my wife’s birthday so I was not able to go fishing, but when I listened to the message Mike had left, I knew I was going to the lake and my wife was coming. His message was “get to the lake, and bring your camera! I just caught a donkey.” I knew from what Mike had been catching lately on the lake that he had landed a really good bass.
It took well over an hour to get to the lake and it gave me lots of time to think, the lake record was a little over 18 lbs. and the last big bass caught at the lake was about six years ago and was 16 lbs. So I was curious how big of a bass Mike had caught. When I arrived, I saw Mike and a friend hanging out in his boat tied up to the courtesy dock. He was jacked and told me he landed a 17 lb-7oz monster that was a little over 27″ long, just a beautiful bass.
I took pictures and I’ve got to say it was a BIG bass! I got some cool belly shots, where you could see her triple roll.
In Mike’s day job he is a professional videographer, and has edited some of the coolest videos in the skateboard world and he had his camera rolling for the 17 lber and all his catches that you will see soon. The swimbait he caught the 17 lber on is a prototype and still being field tested and perfected.
Every now and then, when I witness someone put in so much time and dedication and you see an incredible payoff like this, all I can do is tip my hat and say “congratulations.” I have been very blessed in my life to land a 20 lb. bass and see quite a few bass over 15 lbs. but I will tell you I was very proud when I saw Mike’s 17 lb. bass. I know what it takes to catch such a monster, and in my joking way reminded Mike that he now has to beat a 17lb.-7 oz. bass…lol…