During a recent meeting at the Concord Bass Pro Shops, anglers were passing around a cell phone with a photo of a 12-pound, 6-ounce largemouth bass caught at Badin Lake by an angler they only knew as “Bennett.”
The angler, Bennett Pridgen of Trinity, has a second home at Badin Lake where he’s fished for more than 40 years.
Pridgen caught the double-digit bass Feb. 11 on a jig in 14 feet of water at the Lake Forest area while fishing alone. The fish was weighed and witnessed by two different fishermen on the lake, allowing Pridgen to release the bass, which was filled with eggs, immediately.
Pridgen was using a Shimano baitcasting rod and reel and had the reel spooled with 12-pound test line. He wouldn’t reveal the size or color of his jig.
“The fellows need to figure something out themselves,” he said.
Pridgen almost didn’t catch the trophy fish.
“I missed three consecutive bites with the jig,” he said. “I thought some little fish were biting, so I was ready to leave the spot after making one more cast.”
The fourth cast resulted in another strike, but this time Pridgen didn’t come up empty.
“I set the hook, and the fish came swimming to the boat, so I had no idea how big it was until the fish swam near the front of the boat and started pulling drag,” said Pridgen. “Then I realized I had a really big fish, and it was ‘Katy bar the door.’ The battle was on.”
Pridgen finally wore the fish down and lipped the brute to get it on board.
“That was an anxious moment,” said the Badin angler. “I knew I might get only one chance to grab that bass.”
Pridgen also caught a 7-pound bass to accompany the big one and several smaller bass. A former competitor on the now defunct Carl Benton’s Yadkin Team Trail, Pridgen said tournament anglers dream of catching two bass that would top 19 pounds.
“The bass were really chewing that day at Badin,” he said.
Now Pridgen can assert with confidence that there’s no place like home for catching a trophy bass, especially if your secondary home is at Badin Lake.