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My Personal Best Bass

J.D. Blackburn

In this blog, I wrote about my favorite fish; caught in Tennessee back in 1997. It took me twenty-plus years to eclipse that mark with an 8-4 caught in 2018. While the fish were very similar in size, I caught them under exceptionally different circumstances. 

JD Blackburn's biggest bass


For one, it was on Lake El Salto in Sinaloa, Mexico. Secondly, at that point, I was working in the fishing industry, and on a media trip I helped organize for a client. Mossy Oak Fishing pro-staffer Brandon Lester and executives and media personnel from Bassmaster and Tackle Warehouse were on the trip. It was three-plus days of intense fishing, making videos, and enjoying five-star hospitality at the Angler’s Inn. 

WATCH: The Lure – Lake El Salto  

A 10-pounder was the stated goal for the week; the previous week, at least one was landed, and several people in our group had notched ten-plus pound fish on past trips. There’s a board on the wall with handwritten names and weights that goes back for years. Truth be told, I was as excited about filming a ten being caught as much as I was catching one myself.

Trips to El Salto are great because you get to fish two people in a boat and a guide, so it is a great way to get to know others and make some memories. As I mentioned in the blog about my home lake, I’m a big fan of fishing with new people and making memories.

James Hall, editor of Bassmaster magazine, may hold the unofficial record for trips to El Salto. He has made countless trips there and was on this excursion to western Mexico with us. James and I fished together the second morning, and our guide put us on a spot where the fish were biting a crankbait every cast. It was amazing. You catch fish after fish on El Salto, and every one of the fish looks like it has never been caught before. The bass are so healthy it is remarkable. We caught several fives, sixes, and a seven-pounders in the mix, if my memory serves. I learned from James you don’t even take the time to pull a scale out and weigh those.

bass anglers with big bass

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I was throwing a Strike King 10XD, a giant crankbait by bass lure standards, but the fish there feed on big tilapia, and it was just the right size. A bigger bass put slack in my line on a long cast, and I knew it was a better fish, maybe the biggest one of the day.

The fish fought hard all the way to the net. She weighed 8-4. At lunch that second day we determined it was the biggest of the week in our group to that point. I didn’t really think much of it because the fishing was so good, and we were catching so many fish. 

We caught hundreds more largemouth the rest of the trip, but the double-digit bass eluded us. In fact, my fish was the biggest one we actually weighed. While we didn’t catch a 10-pounder that trip, I did leave with the memory and photos of a new personal best. And every time I see James Hall, I think about that day catching bass together in Mexico. Sometimes I remind him and the others that I caught the big bass of the week.

I need to get back down there and either film or catch that ten-pounder.

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