It has to be a bass fishing guide’s worst nightmare when a client calls and said he would like to bring his child fishing, and that he is 5 years old.
That is what happened to Lake Fork’s James Caldemeyer two weeks ago, but he was good with the idea. The youth, Spencer Stevens, is the son of one of Caldemeyer’s long-time clients, Mike Stevens of Alva, Okla.
The father said Spencer had been fishing since he was 2 and, while still a 5-year-old, he enjoyed fishing.
“His father had fished with me numerous times, and is a good fisherman,” Caldemeyer said. “I felt confident that if Mike thought he was ready, he was. My concern was his attention span. I was afraid he would get bored and want to do something else.”
The end result was anything but disastrous as the young fisherman landed what could be both a youth water body and catch and release record.
“We left out late in the morning. I wasn’t in any hurry to get out because I hadn’t been catching any fish early,” Caldemeyer recalled.
With mid-day storms in the forecast, however, there was a sense of urgency. They pulled up on a hole and started throwing jigs in about 20 feet of water.
The two older fishermen boated a couple of smaller fish before Spencer got in the act in a big way. Using a baitcasting rod, he cast, hooked and landed his first fish.
“He caught his first one, and it went about 10 pounds,” Caldemeyer said.
While that would be a pretty good outing for anyone no matter their age, the young fisherman wasn’t through by a long shot.
The three fishermen continued fishing and catching smaller fish. Admittedly, Spencer wasn’t technically jig fishing as much as he was just keeping the bait moving like any young fisherman. It didn’t matter when his rod bowed once again.
“About 30 minutes later he got another one. His dad and I both said, ‘That is a bigger fish.’ I had to hold on to his lifejacket and his dad held on to his rod to keep him from falling in,” Caldemeyer said, chuckling at the sight.
Caldemeyer said the battle to land the fish seemed to have lasted an eternity, but in reality only took a few short minutes.
“She didn’t fight that much,” the guide said. “Neither of his fish really fought. They came to the top and just laid over. I don’t know why. A lot of them will break the line and you never see them again, but these came up pretty docile. She made one big jump at first.”
Once in the boat, they realized Spencer had an over-the-slot 25-inch bass with a 20-inch girth. The fish weighed 12.28 pounds on certified scales at Lake Fork Marina. There is little doubt that had it been caught in February the fish would have been a ShareLunker. The Lake Fork ShareLunker list is full of bass that measured similarly to the catch.
“The cool part of the story that I didn’t find out until we weighed it, was that (Mike Stevens) had planned the trip because his dad, who had gotten him into bass fish, passed away a year ago the first day and it would have been his birthday the second day.” Caldemeyer said. “I guess his grandfather was looking down on him.”
On the second day the young fisherman also had the big fish of the day when he landed an 8-pounder on a deep-diving crankbait.
And even that wasn’t the end of the story. The significance of catching a 10- and a 12-pound bass is probably a little lost on someone so young because they really don’t have a point of reference. When they got to the marina where officials were preparing for that weekend’s Skeeter Owner’s Tournament, Spencer became a celebrity. Caldemeyer said he enjoyed the attention and that helped him understand more what he had done.
And if he had fished the tournament the youngster would have had both the largest and third largest fish entered.