Strangers In Smallmouth Paradise

Larry NixonEditor's Note: Larry Nixon of Bee Branch, Arkansas, has fished in 22 BASS Masters Classics. He won the Classic in 1983, and he won B.A.S.S. Angler-of-the-Year titles in 1980 and 1982. Nixon enjoys fishing Pickwick Lake where the borders of Tennessee, Mississippi, and Alabama meet for small mouths and large mouths in the summer.

"I got him!" Larry Nixon shouted from the front of the boat as his rod pretzeled and his drag started slipping. Nixon's line began to rise in the water as though an invisible string pulled it skyward instead of down to the depths. In less than six heartbeats, a huge smallmouth bass broke the surface. Then with the power in its wide tail, the fish catapulted itself 5 feet in the air and seemed to hang on an invisible cloud. The smallmouth twisted, squirmed and fought against the monofilament that connected its life to that of one of the most money-winning anglers of all times, Larry Nixon.

The tug of war went on for about five minutes with Nixon displaying the angling skills that had produced well over $1 million worth of competition money for him through the years. Finally when the big smallmouth laid on its side, Nixon gently slid his thumb over the fish's lip, grasped it firmly and brought it into the boat. Nixon had caught the smallmouth in June in the middle of Pickwick Lake.

Strike King LuresBefore the end of the day, Nixon and his partner had boated five smallmouth weighing 5 pounds or more each and one largemouth bass that weighed 6 1/2-pounds. Their total catch weight of bass for the day reached 82 pounds, with all but 6 1/2-pounds of that being smallmouth. On that day, in that place, Nixon and his partner experienced their greatest day of smallmouth fishing ever, far better than either of them had hoped or prayed for or seen. Nixon's partner had caught a 6 1/2-pound smallmouth later in the day after he'd taken the largemouth. As Nixon and he sat down that night after the best bass fishing ever, he wanted to know what factors came together for their phenomenal day of putting smallmouths in the air and actually getting them to the boat.

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