A family fun bass tournament between four family members Alvin (aka Papa, age 67) his son Spencer (age 47), Brian (son-in-law to Papa, Age 43) and Brian's son Koby (age 15).
Koby is a tournament angler at Vista del Lago High School in Folsom, Calif.
Spencer and Papa also fish tournaments and when they are not fishing tournaments they are usually just having fun fishing or hunting.
The team parings for the family fun tournament were Papa and Brian versus Spencer and Koby.
The four met at 5 a.m. at Lake Britton which is just 15-minutes outside of Burney, Calif. – a lake that Papa, Spencer and Brian have grew up on and enjoyed for over 40 years.
The tournament was the best five bass and the weigh in was scheduled for 12 p.m. At 5 a.m. the two teams blasted off. It was a cool, clear morning at 42F with water temp at 62F.
Both teams headed east on the 9-mile long lake. Papa and Brian headed up near the two main inlets of the Pit River and Hat Creek while Spencer and Koby started at Horseshoe cove - just a mile and half from where Papa and Brian started.
In the first hour of fishing, Spencer and Koby bring in two nice largemouth bass. One weighing about 3.5 lbs.
Papa and Brian struggled to find any action in the first hour.
The water was high and swift near the inlets and really murky brown so Papa and Brian decided to head towards the western side of the lake for warmer and clearer waters.
As they passed by Spencer and Koby, Koby held up that 3.5 pounder to show that they were off to a great start.
Papa and Brian looked at each other and said, "we better get with the program!"
The sun was just beginning to rise and Papa and Brian started fishing the southern edge in the main body - lots of wood structure on the bank lines along with some rock and Papa and Brian started hooking some bass consistently.
They caught two nice ones pretty quickly with one weighing around 3lbs and other around 2.5lbs.
The water was heating up and so was the bite for Papa and Brian as they were fishing their way towards an ole notorious cove that Papa and his family called home when they were on the lake.
The cove is called Cemetery Cove. He knows this area like the back of his hand as he's been fishing, skiing, camping and picnicking in that cove for decades.
As Papa and Brian approached the cove Papa said, "there are some big fish on this point", referencing the point off of Cemetery Cove. He said that Mimi (his wife) caught a 6 pounder there before.
As we troll towards the point - Papa see's an old tree snag laying in the water off the point. He casts his chartreuse spinner bait right next to the log and near the shoreline. Just as the bait hit the water it got slammed hard. Papa tilts back as he sets the hook and instantly knows it's a big one.
His first concern was that the fish would wrap the line around all the wooden structure of the tree snag.
Papa successfully maneuvers the fish away from the log and at this point we still haven't actually seen the fish. Papa's concern was maybe this fish was a big ole carp as he doesn't have much control over the fish - it's doing what it wants.
As it swam towards the boat and eventually out in front of it - Papa calmly keeps tension on the line but follows it by trolling in the same direction.
After several minutes have gone by since setting the hook on this monster - the fish begins to wear down and Papa told Brian, "get that net ready!" It was just moments later that we got our first reveal of the fish -- sure enough it was a beast. A largemouth bigger than we have ever seen before.
The hearts start pounding and both anglers are just hoping to successfully land the fish in the net. Brian see's the fish approach the surface again and on his first scoop - get's Big Bertha in the net!!!
The net was almost not big enough as the head and the tail overlaid the edges of net frame.
Papa lets out a big "WOO-HOO" as he realizes he's caught the biggest fish he's ever caught and on a lake that's not well known for this size of fish.
As Brian is holding the netted fish just over the rail of the boat Papa says, "get that sucker in the boat!"
Papa and Brian slap several high fives as smiles were as big as the fish.
Papa reaches into the net to lift the fish and remove his spinner bait. He struggled to manage the fish with one hand and had to use two.
Papa gets the fish up in the air and Papa and Brian just laughed in amazement.
The excitement was something they'll both never forget. They knew it was going to be a memory of a lifetime. As Papa and Brian looked at Big Bertha they guessed it weighed somewhere between 8 and 10 pounds.
Although we knew this fish, along with the other fish we had in the live-wells - we were almost guaranteed to win the family fun tournament. Instead of weighing it at this point - we put it in the live-well and had about two more hours to fish. Brian told Papa, "no need to fish around Cemetery Cove anymore because Big Bertha has eaten everything around it" and they both started laughing some more.
As Papa and Brian continued to fish they both would just start giggling and laughing thinking about Spencer and Koby when they see Big Bertha. They just couldn't wait for that moment. As Papa and Brian kept fishing - the bite slowed down. They landed a few more fish and one that would replace one of the smaller ones caught earlier.
Time is about 11:45 a.m. and it's time to start heading back to the dock to meet Spencer and Koby for weigh in at noon. Papa and Brian's plan was to not show or talk about Big Bertha until all the other fish out of the live-well had been bagged.
As Papa and Brian arrive at the launch ramp just one minute before the cutoff time - they noticed Spencer and Koby were still fishing hard. Papa guessed they only had four fish. Papa honked his horn at noon and Spencer and Koby reeled in their lines and started to troll over towards Papa's boat. As the boat approaches Brian asks Spencer and Koby how they did. They said they got four but have a couple nice ones.
Then Koby asks, "did you guys catch any good ones?"
Papa just had a big grin on his face as he said, "yeah, we got some nice one's too!"
Spencer and Koby know Papa so well and just knew he had a big one and Spencer asks Papa, "did you catch a big dog?"
Papa, not being able to hold it in anymore says, "I caught a monster!" Brian started to put all the fish in the bag except for Big Bertha. Brian asked Papa to grab that fish for the big reveal. Papa lifts the lid to the one live well that Big Bertha was in and Koby could see the top of it and said, "Oh my gosh, that fish is HUGE!"
Papa goes in to lip the fish and it takes both hands again. He pulls it out and Spencer got his first look and says, "holy crap - that's a chunk!"
Papa said that's the biggest fish he's ever caught and as the rest of the angler family looked in amazement. At this point the competitive nature of the family tournament just shifted to sheer happiness for Papa and his monster largemouth.
As Koby is just snapping photo after photo with Papa and his fish - Koby wondered what the record catch for a bass is at Lake Britton. Koby and Spencer pull out their fish scales to weigh the fish. Both scales read right at nine-pounds. Needless to say that Papa and Brian won the fun tournament with a five- fish weighing 15-pounds, 9-ounces. Spencer and Koby had four fish weighing just under 10 pounds.
As we were all just enjoying the moment raving about Big Bertha another set of anglers pass by and see Papa holding the fish. They immediately came over and said, "wow, what a fish", "how big is it?" Papa told them and they said they'd never heard of a bass that big caught at Lake Britton.
The family of anglers put the boats on the trailers and it's just all smiles - none bigger than the one on Papa's face!
We all knew we were living a memory of lifetime - one that we would talk about for the rest of our lives. Spencer, Brian and Koby said that fish needs to go in Mimi and Papa's living room - mounted with one of Papa's favorite baits - the chartreuse spinner bait!