Bomber’s Fat Free Shad series has been called the “Perfect Crankbait” many times, an opinion that was substantiated yet again recently when TJ Nissen landed the new lake record largemouth bass at Lake Austin in Texas. This giant bass weighed 16.03 pounds and took a Fat Free Shad BD7F in Citrus Shad color pattern the afternoon of Jan. 27, 2011.

TJ and Kevin Hoes put in at the City Park in the early afternoon and started the day off by catching a few hybrid striped bass but only managed one small largemouth by evening. After experiencing engine trouble the pair returned to the ramp early and decided to fish some rocks across from the ramp. TJ spotted a dock ahead of them – the only dock far enough into the water to still have water under it.

“I told Kevin that this dock probably got fished pretty often but we might as well give it a try,” Nissen said. “He was throwing a swimbait so I tried to get him set up to throw at the piers. We each made several casts, and when we were positioned in front of the dock I had a fairly clear shot under it.”

Nissen cast the BD7 perfectly under the dock and began his retrieve. On his third crank the giant bass grabbed the crankbait.

“It was so solid it felt like I was stuck in a rock, but then I felt her head shake and she started stripping drag,” Nissen said.

The big bass headed toward the dock pilings first, then to Nissen’s amazement turned and bolted toward deep water. When the bass broke the surface the first time the men knew they were hooked into a special fish but still didn’t realize just how special. While Hoes ran the trolling motor Nissen continued the battle while the bass came up three times.

“When she first came up I saw that there was only one hook in her,” Nissen said. “Kevin kept telling me to keep her head down, but I was so worried that if I changed the rod angle that the hook would come out. She came to the boat green three times. It was nerve-wracking!”

When the fish finally played out she came to the boat mouth closed, and with no net in the boat it was up to Hoes to lip her, which he did after a little wrestling. It was then that the pair began to realize that they had a truly giant bass.

“Then the shaking took over,” Nissen said. “I’ve had buck fever before, but this bass had me shaking uncontrollably. I’m not even sure what happened in the first few minutes after she was in the boat! I’m sure I said a few choice words a few times, and then I said what I thought I would never say in my life – ‘Dude, that might be a lake record!’”

The fish was in the boat and the impact of the catch started to sink in. The called family and friends to come to the rescue. One brought a big ice chest and another brought an aerator. Nissen’s son got the number for the Texas ShareLunker program and gave them a call. His wife brought him some Please Release Me chemicals for the water and brought them pizza. His daughter came out to take photos.

Dave Campbell with the ShareLunker program arrived and took the official weight, then transported the fish to home base in Athens. Nissen elected to have the fish returned to Lake Austin when the research is completed. He will be there when the fish is released back into its home water.

“This fish was beautiful!” he said. “There wasn’t a mark on it. The fins and tail were absolutely perfect; the picture of health. This truly has been the experience of a lifetime and I am so happy that I got to share it with my family and great friends.”