It was about 1:30 on the afternoon of March 5, 2018 when Jeff Payne caught a record-breaker he’d been seeking for the past three years. Jeff had been fishing on Lake Rabun since daylight on that Monday morning and caught seven fish before he hooked into the large spotted bass.
Jeff has been fishing Lake Rabun for about three years with the intent of setting a new record for the lake. Just two days before he caught his record spot, Jeff was fishing Lake Rabun and the fish were tearing it up.
“Two days before on a bright sunny day the bite was great, and I caught 22, a mix of bass, chain pickerel and yellow perch,” Jeff said.
He went back two days later at about daylight. It was very cold that morning, with a cloudy sky that had peeks of sunlight throughout the day. He had high hopes that morning, but Jeff didn’t have near as much luck as two days prior.
“On the day I caught the record bass, the bite was not as good—I caught a total of eight—but I did notice when the sun would peek out some, the bite got better. Just before I caught the 6.2 spot, the sun peeked out, and I caught a largemouth bass close to 5 pounds,” said Jeff.
It was finally about seven hours after he started fishing when he hooked his new record spotted bass.
“About 1:30 p.m. the sun peeked out again, and I tossed the jerkbait up next to a deep bank that the sun was hitting on and quickly cranked the jerkbait down and stopped it. I let it sit for a few seconds and then twitched it, and the fight was on,” Jeff said.
The spotted bass put up a great fight for three or four minutes before Jeff was able to pull it into the boat. As soon as he got a good look at it, he knew this would be a new lake record.
Jeff keeps a scale on his boat and was eager to weigh the bass, knowing it was a big one. He weighed the spotted bass using a fish grip, and his scale revealed it to weigh 6.38 pounds. He quickly filled his livewell and turned both aerators on before heading back to Hall’s Boat House where he had put his boat in at. He tried to call the Lake Burton Hatchery immediately because of its close proximity, but was unable to due to poor cell service. The people at Hall’s Boat House then called Lake Burton Hatchery to let them know Jeff was on his way.
He arrived at the hatchery, and had his spotted bass was weighed on a certified scale. The actual weight was revealed to be 6.2 pounds, while the length measured at 21 1/2 inches, making Jeff’s spotted bass a new Lake Rabun record. After having the spotted bass weighed, he returned to Lake Rabun where he released his catch so it could spawn. About a week later, Jeff returned to the same spot to notice something interesting.
“On March 14, I went back to Rabun at the exact same spot, and on the same jerkbait I caught another spot that weighed 4.59 pounds, making it a total of nine bass for the day,” said Jeff.
This is not Jeff’s first time breaking a record though. He had a record for rainbow trout on Lake Seed, as well as the record for smallmouth bass on Lake Burton. These marks were eventually surpassed. Jeff plans to continue trying beat lake records, his own included.