Little did Chase Grove know that opening day of turkey season would be a day he would never forget—and not because of a gobbler, but because of a giant 16.03-lb. largemouth bass.
Saturday morning started off like most opening days for Chase, waiting patiently for daylight with hopes of a gobble from the roost. The 28-year-old from Wilkinson County is a hunting guide at Black Creek Plantation and Hunting Lodge near McIntyre.
“We had a client in on a turkey hunt. As luck would have it, soon after daybreak we had a bird headed our way. Twenty minutes pass, and he’s at 20 yards as the shot rings out, ending this hunt with the hunter bagging his first bird ever,” Chase said.
“We headed back to the lodge at Black Creek to finish the morning off with some fishing.”
The family hunting operation specializes in deer, hog, quail and turkey hunting, and the fishing has been an add-on for hunting clients. The property contains three kaolin-pit ponds—a half-acre pond at the lodge, a 2-acre pond, and a lake that’s about 6 acres.
The day before, the turkey-hunting client and Chase had caught a couple bass from the 6-acre lake, which being an old kaolin pit has water that’s 40 to 50 feet deep.
“As we were leaving, I caught a glimpse of a big bass on bed,” Chase said.
“We headed out to the pond joking that I was going to catch the monster I saw the previous day. As we approached the pond, I headed straight to the spot I had spotted the bass the day before. Sure enough, she was right there.
“I rigged a black Culprit worm with a 1/8-oz. weight and started casting her way. After about 30 casts, she nailed it. I set the hook but missed. I was sure I had just blown my opportunity at catching this fish. After about 10 more casts, she had enough and blew up on the bait. This time I set the hook hard, and the fight was on. After what seemed like an eternity, I had landed a true giant. One of the clients at the lodge had some old scales, which showed her around 15 1/2 pounds. After weighing her on two scales, it was obvious she was a special fish.”
Chase contacted C&B Processing on Highway 441 south of Milledgville. They had a certified scale, which means it’s been tested for accuracy and stamped by the Georgia Department of Agriculture. The certified weight of 16.03 pounds ranks the Wilkinson County bass as the No. 17 bass of all-time caught in Georgia, according to GON’s official records.
“After getting signatures from three witnesses and contacting a couple taxidermists, we took some pictures at the lodge, realizing this was an opening weekend I would not soon forget. Big thanks to Eric Asbell, of Black Creek Plantation, for allowing me to fish such a great pond, and for parents who raised me in the outdoors all my life. The first person I called after landing her was my dad, Rob Grove, who taught me how to fish at an early age. I’m not sure who was more excited, me or him.
“I headed home to my wife, Michell, and my two boys, who are 2 years old and 7 months old, to show off the trophy. Hopefully one day my boys will break my personal best record bass, but until then we will continue fishing as much as possible.”
Black Creek owner Eric Asbell said there’s been a history of good fishing and big bass from the ponds on the property.
“The really small pond at the lodge is overloaded with crappie. Then we have a 2-acre pond, and we have the bigger lake that is maybe 6 acres. We had a 12 1/2-pounder caught about five years ago from the bigger lake. They don’t get fished much. They have good bluegill and shellcracker populations, and DNR came out when we bought the property in 2002 and said they were pretty well in balance.”
The complete list of Georgia’s Biggest Bass of All-Time will appear in the May issue of GON magazine. There have been 56 certified bass that weigh more than 14 pounds in GON’s records.
For more information on Black Creek Plantation, go to www.blackcreeklodge.com.