Trophy 8-pound bass shocks Janesville boy, father

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Gina Duwe
Friday, May 17, 2013

— The largemouth bass only looked to be a 3- or 4-pounder.

Then it flipped on its side, giving Tim Bakke of Janesville a better look.

“This is a really big one, Hunter!” Bakke said to his son as the two finagled the line that had wrapped several times around a log near shore at Lions Beach. With the line ready to break, the two landed the monster bass in the boat and Hunter, 14, let out a few excited screams.

The opening-day, once-in-a-lifetime catch weighed in at 8 pounds and measured 23 inches, which is extraordinarily large for the upper Midwest, said Shawn McCarten, owner of It's a Keeper Bait & Tackle in Janesville.

“It's an absolute true trophy,” McCarten said.

The catch is only 3 pounds, 3 ounces away from the state record set in 1940, he said.

“That is the largest I've ever seen out of Wisconsin,” McCarten said.

Most taxidermists in the area work with fish in the 5- to 6-pound range, he said.

Three days after the Bakkes' May 4 catch, a Brodhead fisherman landed a 7-pound bass in Janesville, McCarten said.

Bass grow that big down south and out west where the growing season is much longer, he said. Here, however, the growing season is only three to three and a half months.

McCarten estimated the Bakke fish to be about 12 to 14 years old.

The pond's clean, spring-fed water helps extend the lives of fish, as does a strong stock of trout, he said. Trout is a diet staple for world-record bass caught in California, McCarten said.

Hunter Bakke, who fishes nearly every day, caught the bass on a flippin jig and a trailer. He said it took a couple of days before the size of his catch really sank in, but he's excited to add it to the two ducks and one goose already mounted on his wall.

The father-son duo fish for fun and always catches and releases, but Tim Bakke said he lets his son keep one bass a year.

“I looked at him and said, 'Can I keep him?'” Hunter recalled. “He said, 'Uh, yeah.' We were both shocked.”

McCarten acknowledged some people might frown upon keeping such a fish.

“But in all reality, she's past her prime for spawning,” he said. “That's why people fish—to catch a trophy.”

“It's a bragger,” McCarten said. “It's a fish of a lifetime.”

Last updated: 10:35 am Tuesday, July 2, 2013

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