Keith Watkins, of Douglasville, will always remember the day he turned 51 years old. For Keith, it’ll go down in his life story as the day he caught a 17-lb., 9.6-oz. largemouth bass and claimed the No. 4 spot on GON’s Georgia’s Biggest Bass of All-Time list.
Keith was spending his birthday in the boat with his fishing buddy Stanley Elrod, of Dallas. They were fishing a Coweta County lake on the afternoon of March 30.
“Stanley was wearing me out,” said Keith. “We had been there about an hour and a half, and he caught one about 3 1/2 right off the bat. An hour later, I caught one that was 2, and I hadn’t caught another fish. He said ‘Man it’s your birthday. I want you to catch them.’”
Keith was fishing a green-pumpkin Zoom Trick Worm threaded on a 3/8-oz. Gambler Giggy Head. He was using just 12-lb. test line on a spinning reel.
“We pulled up on this point, and Stanley catches four back to back that are 2 to 3 pounds each,” said Keith. “He had been throwing to the bank, and I threw crossways across this point, and she nailed it.”
Keith’s 17.60-lb. giant wasn’t going to give up without a fight.
“It took me 20 minutes to get it in the net,” said Keith. “This fish fought so hard. She went under the boat five times. I was in the front of the boat, then in the back of the boat. It was almost a dead miracle that I got her in.
“I figured any second my line was going to pop. I loosened the line so loose that you could have pulled it out with your breath. I was just trying to wear the fish out. We’d seen her several times. I played her, played her and played her and finally wore her out and got her.”
Keith and Stanley knew that a largemouth bass of this caliber needed to be weighed on certified scales. They headed straight for E.T. Doyal & Sons Feed and Seed in Villa Rica. The owner, Jerry Doyal, was witness to the weighing.
“It was the biggest fish I’ve ever seen,” said Jerry.
On the certified scale, the bass weighed 17.60 pounds, or 17-lbs., 9.6-ozs. Keith’s largemouth is the heaviest bass caught in Georgia since 1987 when an 18-lb., 1-oz. bass was caught from Lake Margery, which is now a part of Marben PFA in Jasper County. Keith’s bass was 33 inches long and had a 28-inch girth.
“It was a true spiritual moment for me and my Savior Jesus Christ,” said Keith.