By John Johnson
BassFan Senior Editor
(Editor's note: This is part 2 of a 2-part story focusing on pro anglers' most memorable fish of 2013. Part 1, which was published Tuesday, focused on the FLW Tour. Today's segment, which will be the final top story to appear until Monday due to the Thanksgiving holiday, features Bassmaster Elite Series anglers.)
"It'd have to be Falcon Lake, first day, first hour of the morning. I started on a point that goes back into a pocket and I passed Boyd Duckett. Two or three trees after that, I catch a (9-pounder).
"After about another 50 yards, I stuck one over 10. I got it all the way to the boat and I had a hand on it, with my other hand on the line. I had the fish pinned to the side of the boat with my left hand, but I had no leverage to get it over the side of the boat, so I let go of the line with my other hand to try to get a better grasp on it.
"The fish felt that slack and it took off, and I couldn't do anything about it. I went through all kinds of emotions, from anger to sadness. I'd rather break up with my girlfriend than lose a 10-pounder. That's how bad it felt."
"The one that haunts me the worst was at Falcon. The first day I had 25 pounds and I had 26 the second day, so I was in great shape. The next day I was fishing up around the ramp and I hang one right by the side of my Phoenix. It walked me across the front of the boat and almost pulled me in, but it didn't break the line.
"It turned its head one time and I realized just how big it was – it felt like I was trying to turn a freight train. It ran between two giant trees and ran into the stupidest little petrified tree in there and just tied up and pulled loose.
"I've caught a lot of big fish, but I'm pretty sure that was one of those really special ones, like a 13- to 18-pounder. You can't turn them and you can't move them and they just bulldog you."
"The one that really haunts me was from St. Clair. It still wouldn't have given me enough to beat Chris Lane, but I would've finished 2nd for sure.
"It was on the final day, and I had a smallmouth on that I never got to see. I was fishing 30-pound braid and this fish just had me to my knees. I could tell by the way it was running and playing that it was a smallmouth. I had it on for a long time and it was getting tired and getting ready to clear the water, and then it pulled off.
Alton Jones caught some nice smallmouths at Lake St. Clair, but the biggest one he hooked that week didn't make it into his boat.
"I'd caught a 5-12 the day before from the same place that was the big fish of the tournament, and the one I lost was substantially bigger than anything I'd tangled with all week. It was just one of those mystery fish that I wish I could've seen."
"West Point, first day, first fish of the day. I had a solid 5-pounder on a bed – it was the only one I knew about that was really locked on. I got to it before anybody else and made a long cast with a floating Senko, and the fish swirled and ate it and I set the hook.
"Somehow my leader got twisted and the braid crossed over the knot with the fluorocarbon and the line broke when I set the hook. I missed the money by a few ounces and that 5 pounds would've really made a difference – I didn't have a limit that day. It was a tight tournament and that fish would've put me somewhere in the 20s and I would've gotten to fish another day, and who knows what might've happened then?"
"I started off down in the 80s (in the standings) at the Alabama River and even though I didn't get a check, the second day was totally different. I'd only caught one that morning, about a 3-pounder, and I was coming back down the river and stopped to fish an area. I was still trying to figure out where the fish were.
"I pulled in and cast over the right side of the boat, and it was like Jesus himself told me I needed to throw over the other side. I did that and wound the bait twice and got a 3-pound spot, and I caught one on each of the next five casts.
"That fish showed me how the fish were positioned – they weren't where I thought they were. Every place I went after that, I caught them."
"I didn't lose a lot of fish this year and the only place I really struggled with that was at the Alabama River. On the second day there I lost two really big spotted bass, so I decided to go catch largemouths and I pulled into a backwater for the last hour of the day.
"I got one that was about 6 pounds to the surface, but then it got down in some pad stems and it was a long battle. I ended up actually seeing the fish come off and then watching it swim away."
End part 2 (of 2)