(Editor's note: This is part 2 of a 2-part story focusing on pro anglers' most memorable fish of 2012. Part 1, which was published Friday, focused on the FLW Tour. Today's segment features Bassmaster Elite Series anglers.)
By John Johnson
BassFan Senior Editor
"The one that comes to mind was the one that was on the cover of Bassmaster Magazine. It was my fifth fish on (day 3) in the last tournament of the year at Oneida, and once I had that one I knew I had enough weight to make it to Sunday, and that wrapped up the Angler of the Year for me.
"It wasn't a real big one – maybe a 2 1/2-pounder – but I knew at that point I'd crossed the threshold that I needed to get over."
"At the St. Johns I found an 8-pounder on a bed on the second day of the tournament, but it was late and I ran out of time on her. I started there the next morning and I didn't know if she was gone or I just couldn't see her or what, but it was pretty dark that day and I couldn't find her.
"At the end of the day I gave myself 15 minutes to stop and check on her one more time, and she was there. I caught her on my third or fourth flip."
"For me it was the last keeper I caught in the final event at Lake Oneida. Without that one I would not be in (next year's) Classic. The sad part is it was only 11:45 and I had the rest of the day to fill out my limit, and I only weighed in four.
"They just completely quit biting after that. (Jared) Lintner and (Terry) Butcher were both in sight of me, and they weren't catching anything, either. But things happen for a reason, and fortunately the Good Lord blessed me with that one last fish before they shut off.
"It was only a 2- or a 2 1/4-pounder, but it might turn into a half-million-dollar fish."
"I'd only caught about 9 pounds on the first day at Okeechobee and I was in like 80th place. If I didn't catch them good on the second day, I was going to finish really bad. I was punching mats and I caught a 6-pounder, and then about 5 minutes later I hooked another 6-pounder. It had about 20 pounds of grass with it as I was bringing it in and it wasn't fighting at all.
Brandon Card boated a bruiser at Okeechobee that had gotten the hook out of its mouth a split-second before he got a hand on it.
"I stooped down to get the grass off and the bass just started freaking out – jumping around and going crazy. Then it opened its mouth and the hook came out a split-second before I grabbed (the fish). If it would've just turned its head a little bit right there, it could've swam away and there wouldn't have been anything I could've done about it.
"I barely squeaked into the 50-cut that day and ended up finishing 41st. If it hadn't been for that fish, I'd have been way down in the pack. It was a pretty important fish."
"I was in the upper-30s (in the standings) after 2 days at the St. Johns River, so I was in decent shape, but a good ways out of the Top 12. I had a little over an hour left before I had to head in on the third day and I found one on a bed that was a giant – between 8 and 10 pounds.
"I got it to bite on two pitches in a row, but I missed it both times. I ended up with only 8 or 9 pounds that day, and if I'd have caught that fish, I'd have had about 16, and I'm pretty sure it would've moved me up more than 12 places (he finished 41st).
"If I catch that fish and the rest of the year goes exactly the way it did, I would've won the Angler of the Year."
"I had a really good day on the first day at Green Bay, sight-fishing in pretty much a wide-open area. The second day was windy and nasty and you couldn't see anything, but I didn't think that was going to matter with those smallmouth – I'd just crack them on a jerkbait or a swimbait or a fluke – but I went all the way up there and caught nothing.
"I had one 14-incher at noon and I didn't want to drive all the way back to the weigh-in in that nasty stuff. I told my marshal I was thinking about having my wife come and get me at a ramp near there and just skipping the weigh-in. But then I realized that wouldn't be the way to go and it wouldn't be right to do that to my sponsors. I'd have to go back and take my butt-kicking.
Alton Jones' victory at the St. Johns River was keyed by a couple of late bites on day 2.
"I got back with 15 minutes to spare and I started fishing this riprap bank next to the ramp where everybody fishes, and I caught a 2 1/2-pound largemouth 2 minutes before check-in. Without that fish, I wouldn't be going to the Classic.
"That taught me a lesson."
"At Okeehchobee I got on a good fish (on a bed) on the last day – maybe a 7- or 8-pounder. I got it to bite and set the hook, but I must've mistimed it. I swung a little early on her when I probably should've let her turn, but it was just one of those deals.
"I ended up with 24 pounds that day, but that one would've put me up in the 30 range."
"After day 1 at the St. Johns I was in 20th place or something, and at 1 o'clock on day 2 I had just a small limit for about 8 pounds. I went into an area where I'd seen a big one in practice, but by that time all the big ones on the beds had been exhausted.
"I was casting a 6-inch Yum Dinger and I caught a 4-pounder, so I was excited about that. After I unhooked it I started wondering if it might've been on a bed, so I trolling-motored over there, and way down deep in a patch of dollar pads I thought I could make out a light spot and I thought I saw something move. I put my Power-Poles down and flipped the Dinger down there and let it sit for 2 or 3 minutes in one place. Then I felt a thump and set the hook, and it came back with no Dinger.
"I immediately flip back in and it goes thump again, and I caught it. That fish was close to 7 pounds and it boosted me up close to 17 pounds for the day. If I hadn't caught that 4-pounder and then that bigger one, I wouldn't have been in a position to win that tournament."
"When we went to Oneida I was doing real well in the points, I think I was 5th, but then I only weighed four fish the second day. I just wasn't getting a lot of bites in that event. I got a 2 1/2-pounder on a ChatterBait and I went to boat-flip it – I've done it a thousand times and I'll do it a thousand more times – but this one came off in midair and back in the water it went.
"That was the only important fish I remember losing all year long. I missed the 50-cut by 6 ounces, and if I'd made it and moved up a little the next day, I might've made the postseason.
"That shows you how important one bite can be."
End part 2 (of 2)