Rodman Reservoir Provides Memory of a Lifetime for Angler

February 2013 Gainesville Sun
By Ted Beck

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The temperature was 23 degrees on Feb. 18 when fishing guide Sean Rush and repeat customer Bob Williams ventured out onto Rodman Reservoir.

Rush, who runs Trophy Bass Expeditions in Marion County, and Williams were in search of "the big one."

The duo used wild shiners out near the middle of the lake. By about 8:30 a.m. Williams, an Alloway, N.J., resident, found what he was looking for. In fact, what was hooked on his line was the biggest reported bass in Florida since at least October. It officially weighed in at 13 pounds, 14 ounces.

"I've never seen a bass that big (in the wild)," said Williams, a 53-year-old utility construction worker. "I've seen 'em in tanks at Bass Pro Shops and in magazines, but that's it."

Williams said that because it was so cold, the monster fish didn't put up much of a fight when he reeled it in from the 9,000-acre reservoir located in the northwest corner of the Ocala National Forest.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission launched a program in October of 2012 that recognizes trophy catches like this one. The TrophyCatch Program is based on catch and release.

"TrophyCatch is an innovative program to reward anglers for being great resource stewards by legally catching and releasing trophy largemouth bass," Gov. Rick Scott said in a statement.

The FWC set up three categories. Fish caught between 8 and 9.9 pounds make up the Lunker Club. Bass between 10 and 12.9 pounds comprise the Trophy Club. Anything more than 13 pounds is grouped into the Hall of Fame Club. The contest will run yearly from Oct. 1 through April 30.

"It was definitely the fish of a lifetime," said Williams, who said his wife caught a 10-pounder of her own last year. "And to have the (FWC) come down and take pictures and interview me adds to the great experience."

Anglers who bring in a fish in the first two categories have to photograph the fish on a scale with the weight visible and also provide a picture with the fish and a tape measure showing its length. By being registered in the program, people can win prizes ranging from boats and trailers to Bass Pro Shops gift cards to coupons for Rapala lures.

For Hall of Fame entries, a little more work is involved. A FWC officer must be called to come verify the catch and take genetic samples. Williams put his catch in a Rush's tank, while the FWC officer was en route. Once it was verified, the fish was released.

"She weighed 14 pounds, 1 ounce when he caught the fish," Rush said. "Then, from being in the tank for half the day, she ended up weighing a little less."

Williams will receive $1,000 in rewards for the catch, including a fiberglass replica mount of his catch, a custom rod from Pro Line with US Reel bait caster and gift cards. The angler who catches the heaviest bass by the end of April will also win a Super Bowl-like TrophyCatch ring valued at $3,000.

Williams, who owns a house on the Palm Coast and comes down four or five times a year, credits Rush for the catch of a lifetime.

"I've never seen anyone with as much knowledge as Sean out on the water," Williams said. "He knows that reservoir in and out and I've become a better fisherman because of him. Without Sean, I wouldn't have caught that fish."

As of Monday, there have been 91 bass registered in the Lunker and Trophy Club classes. Williams' 13-plus-pounder was the first Hall of Fame submission. It was also the first registered in Marion County across all three categories.

To register for the TrophyCatch Program, visit

We are a full time Gainesville Florida Bass Fishing Guide Service and fishing charter service. We have been guiding in the greater Gainesville and Ocala, Florida area for over 25 years.

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