Broken Bow Lake held the state record largemouth bass for 13 years until it was broken last March by Benny Williams Jr. of Poteau, who caught a 14-pound, 12-ounce lunker from Cedar Lake in Le Flore County.
It beat the old largemouth record held by William Cross of Broken Bow by just one ounce. Cross caught his fish in 1999 at Broken Bow Lake.
Even though Broken Bow Lake has been dethroned, it likely holds another state record if someone can catch it.
Just last month, Scott Hayes of Broken Bow landed a 12.12 pound largemouth at the lake. The fish was 27 inches long.
Hayes decided to go bass fishing on the morning of Dec. 1 because it was too warm to go deer hunting. He was just trying to catch some spotted bass for the supper table when he landed the biggest largemouth of his life.
“I got out to the lake early in the morning,” Hayes said. “I was using a drop shot with a 10-pound test line. I felt the line get heavy, so I lifted up and started reeling.
“Instantly, my drag started to sing. I knew that I had a good fish. The fish broke the water and I thought it might be 8 or 9 pounds, biggest one I ever caught.
“I worked the fish closer to the boat and she came out of the water again. I thought it might be closer to 10 pounds. Before I could get the net, she came up right at the boat. I just knew she was going to get off.”
Only after netting the fish and getting it in the boat did Hayes realize how big it was. He had it weighed on certified scales at a local store.
“That’s a pretty exceptional fish for almost anywhere,” said Gene Gilliland, assistant chief of fisheries for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. “I don’t doubt there is good number of that caliber of fish down there (in Broken Bow Lake).”