- Dave Precht
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Some say it is as rare as a hole-in-one in golf. Others say it is a once-in-a-lifetime thing. Still others can only dream about catching a bass weighing 10 pounds or more.
Twenty years ago, Jeffrey and Steve Smith, two brothers from Blue Springs, Mo., decided to make it their mission.
How obsessed are they about this quest for the Holy Grail of bass fishing? In 1987, Jeffrey Smith married his high school sweetheart, and took her to Florida on their honeymoon where they spent a day bass fishing at Lake Toho.
Jeffrey has introduced 27 fisherman to their first 10-pound bass including Bassmaster magazine's editor-in-chief Dave Precht.
Over the years, the Smiths and their family members have caught 204 bass over 10 pounds, including two with certified weights of 17 pounds, 8 ounces. The brothers' best trip included 29 bass over 10, and their best single-day catch of five bass weighed 70 pounds, 14 ounces.
Follow their five pieces of advice, and you'll dramatically increase your odds of catching a trophy of a lifetime:
Location, location, location
Sunbelt states offer the best chances of catching trophy largemouth
Central Florida offers abundant lakes filled with big bass
Small public lakes that receive minimal fishing pressure are good choices
A good trophy lake will have a combination of these types of vegetation: coontail; hydrilla; hyacinths; Kissimmee grass; and lily pads
The Smith brothers have caught trophy bass in the following Florida waters: Stick Marsh; Farm 13; Lake Istokpoga; Lake Tohopekaliga; Lake Kissimmee; Clermont Chain; Winter Haven Chain; Lake Monroe; Rodman Reservoir; Salt Springs; and Lake Walk-in-Water; St. Johns River
Prime trophy months are January through April
Moon phases are very important
Best times are the three days before through the three days after a full moon.
The next best period is just before and after a new moon
Pay attention to the Astro Tables 2000 solar/lunar charts (published each issue of Bassmaster Magazine)
Concentrate your efforts on the major and minor activity periods
Weather and water conditions
Florida strain bass are extremely susceptible to "lockjaw" caused by severe cold fronts. Time your trip to begin two or three days after a front has passed.
Light winds (5 mph to 10 mph) from the south and/or west are best
Don't be afraid to fish during inclement weather, as long as lightning isn't a threat
Water temperatures should be stable and between 64 and 70 degrees
Best live bait for Florida monster bass is a wild golden shiner 5 to 8 inches long
Start the day with eight-dozen wild shiners, four dozen in each livewell
Handle the bait as little as possible - use a shiner net
Best artificials: big plastic worms and lizards, big crankbaits, swimbaits, big spinnerbaits, stickbaits
7- to 7-foot, 11-inch rods (the Smiths like G.Loomis GLX rods)
Abrasion resistant green monofilament line (such as Berkley Big Game) in at least 15-pound test
Large line capacity baitcast reels with a line alarm (such as the Garcia 6500C reels)
Super-sharp Kahle or circle (Eagle Claw) hooks in 4/0 and 5/0 sizes
Use Palomar or Trilene knots (see our BASS INSIDER Knot Library for animated directions for tying these knots)
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The Smith brothers share tips and their obsession with double-digit bass.