OU Bass Club member catches lake record spotted bass
Many anglers fish their entire lives without catching a lake record. Alexis Howard caught an Oklahoma lake record the first time she ever went fishing in the state.
Howard, a member of the University of Oklahoma Bass Club, caught the lake record spotted bass for Lake Thunderbird on a club outing last Sunday.
“It's hard to catch a record fish of any kind, out of any lake,” said Kenyon Hill, a former B.A.S.S. Elite Series angler who is now coaching the OU Bass Club. “There are people who have been fishing Thunderbird 20 or 30 years and haven't caught one.”
“I don't know that I have caught a spotted bass out of Thunderbird or come close to catching a record fish of any kind. It's not easy to do. That makes it even more special.”
Howard, a 19-year-old freshman from Ft. Worth, Texas, caught the 3-pound, 2-ounce spotted bass on a small crankbait that her father gave her while he was in Norman last weekend for “Dads Weekend” at OU.
“I wanted a couple of crankbaits to throw instead of the Flukes I usually throw,” said Howard, who is majoring in meteorology. “That's what I ended up catching it on.”
The OU Bass Club was having a social outing on Thunderbird when Howard caught her lake record.
“In Oklahoma, we mostly don't target spotted bass because they don't grow that big,” Hill said. “Some lakes you can target them. A lot of the Alabama lakes have 5- and 6-pound spotted bass. California has some big ones."
Spotted bass are native to many Oklahoma lakes but not Thunderbird. They are in Thunderbird because anglers have put them in there over the years and the species has become established, said Gene Gilliland, former fisheries biologist for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation who now works for B.A.S.S.
Spotted bass normally don't grow very large in Oklahoma because in many lakes they are overpopulated, Gilliland said.
“A 4-pound spotted bass is big in Oklahoma,” he said.
Howard is one of four girls on the OU Bass Club, which competes in college fishing tournaments. Bass fishing is a club sport at universities and colleges. Both major tournament organizations, B.A.S.S. and FLW, offer college tournament trails.
The OU Bass Club relies on sponsors such as Nichols Marine and Plano for gear and financial support to be able to travel to bass tournaments.
The OU Bass Club also sells T-shirts, fishing gear and tackle to help defray costs. Hill said the club even plans to hold some fishing camps in the future similar to football camps to raise money.
Howard said fishing always has been a passion of hers and she has fished with her father in small bass tournaments in Texas.
“My dad taught me how to fish before I can remember,” she said. “I have pictures of me as a baby sitting next to him fishing.”
The new Thunderbird lake record is the biggest bass she has ever caught, but not the biggest fish. She once hooked a 200-pound nurse shark while deep sea fishing.