Big Bass Pulled From Keystone
Inside the Outdoors, July 24, 2009

We all know the expression, “You have to see it to believe it.” Well, I found myself thinking just that when I was invited by Steve Gordon out in his boat recently.

The Latrobe resident, who is an ardent fisherman, loves to fish the rivers and frequents Keystone State Park inviting anglers to accompany him on his boat. Being in his company during several outings on the lake at the park, I have learned a great deal from this experienced angler.

So, it just so happened he called me up and asked if I would like to try our luck together along with a chap from Bradenville by the name of John Bell. I rarely pass up the opportunity, for boating has always been something special to me over the years.

Throughout the course of the evening, we all chatted about the various aspects of fishing. Then Gordon mentioned something particularly interesting. “I heard people are catching really big bass out here on spinnerbaits,” he said. Just prior to opening day bass I had mentioned in an article that the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission had shocked a portion of the lake and found that there were a good number of large bass. But, I never caught wind that anyone was catching any of them until lately. Then in the course of conversation, Gordon let the cat out of the bag, so to speak, on the so-called secret bait.

Earlier that day, upon picking me up, it didn’t take him long to relate that he had found a chartreuse colored spinnerbait with Colorado blades on sale at one of the local stores. Hearing about the success stories at the New Alexandria lake, he told me he was going to use this lure hopefully to hook into these bigger fish.

No sooner had we set off from shore did each of us get out something which we considered dependable fish getters. None of them worked. It could have been that the temperatures were still too warm, and the dinner bell had not rung for those under the surface.

As we circled the lake, nothing we used seemed to catch anything worth talking about. Then Steve had an idea. He became very vocal about it, a matter of fact. He tied on his new brightly colored lure and trolled it behind his boat. I don’t think more than five minutes went by when I heard Gordon proclaim, “Oh, I got a hit…this is big…this is big.”

Now, as often as we have been on the lake before, I have heard similar comments, and the sizes to the fish weren’t all that bad, but never had I ever seen his rod bend like it did that night. Bell exclaimed, “Oh, you’re snagged Steve. You don’t have a fish,” he teased his fishing buddy. “No, I’ve got a fish, and it’s a big one,” he announced in a steady vocal tone, keeping the tension on the line and reeling it in very methodically. As the fish got closer to the boat, it jumped once out of the water, and then dove back in. What Gordon had surmised was confirmed. John and I reeled in our lines and sat in awe. Steve had done it again, caught the biggest fish. Reaching down, he carefully grasped and lifted it from the water into the boat. What he had in his possession was an 18-inch largemouth.

“Gonna keep it?” I asked. John was quick to advise me that they normally don’t keep anything under five pounds. Thus, the fish was carefully lowered back into the water and allowed to go free.

I think it all comes down to this. Finding the right bait, whether it be live or artificial will always produce. But it may not be discovered overnight. I had been with Steve many times fishing the same lake, but if he hadn’t heard that others were doing really well with large spinnerbaits, he may not have decided to try them.

Gordon advised two anglers from Lawrenceville that they should try spinnersbaits. After about an hour they returned to us to announce that the tip paid off. One of the gents had caught himself a 25-incher on a black and gold spinnerbait. Must be a Steeler fan!

- Paul J. Volkmann
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