April 27, 2019
By Scott Bernarde
It really was a Good Friday for one Kentucky bass angler, who now has his name in the state record books.
Mark Ward of Evarts, Ky., broke the state’s 35-year-old largemouth-bass record on Good Friday (April 19) by nearly a pound during an after-work fishing stop at Highsplint Lake in Harlan County.
In fact, it was on his first cast at the six-acre pond when a 14-pound, 9.5-ounce largemouth bit the Junebug-colored soft-plastic lizard he casted into shallow water. It bested the previous record of 13-10 (Dale Wilson, Wood Creek Lake, Laurel County, 1984), according to the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources.
“When I saw it in person, what first caught my eye were the eyes on that fish were huge,” said Kevin Frey, Eastern Fisheries District coordinator for the Kentucky agency. “It would look like a shark if you saw it swimming in the water. The thickness of the fish was really impressive.”
Ward, who went fishing with his wife and 9-month-old daughter, said he saw a 4-pounder in the shallows and pitched the bait into the area.
“I pitched a lizard in there and the 4-pounder showed interest,” Ward told KDFWR. “Then, another came in and looked like a big log. The 4-pound fish triggered her to pick it up. I set the hook and it was on. Good Friday turned into a great Friday for me.”
The bass measured 26.8 inches long had a girth of 22.5 inches. The 6-inch lizard was presented on baitcasting equipment spooled with 14-pound test monofilament line.