Lake Oconee’s 22-year-old largemouth record was broken the morning of May 14 when lake-resident Bill Brantley caught a 12-lb., 14-oz. fish on a Texas-rigged lizard.
Bill and his wife Pam, both of Buckhead, were dragging 6-inch, watermelon-chartreuse lizards off a brushed-up ledge in 15 feet of water. Bass were packed in tight on the ledge, and the anglers had already caught about a dozen smaller fish with this summer pattern in Richland Creek.
Before hooking into the fish, Bill suggested they move to another location. Pam can take partial credit for the fish because she insisted they stay put.
“We just caught six fish right here; why are we leaving?” Pam asked her husband.
“Why…? I never do any good fishing behind me,” was Bill’s response moments before he called for the net.
Although she admittedly freaked out after the fish surfaced for a brief tail-walking session, Pam handled her netting duties admirably, said Bill.
This fish of a lifetime was also the last fish of the day. Knowing he had a potential record, Bill carefully placed it in the livewell, and off they went to get an official weight and species verification from WRD Biologist Chris Nelson.
The giant bass was later released alive off the end of Bill’s dock on Oconee. Bill, a member of the Oconee Bassmasters, said he’s pleased as he can be but wishes he had caught the fish on a tournament day.
The previous record of 12-lbs., 9-ozs. was caught by Derrell Waldrop on April 1, 1990.
If you catch a fish that you believe may be a GON Lake and River Record, call us at (800) 438-4663.