It was a cold 27-degree morning, February 12, 1994, when 40-year-old Greg Wiggins and fishing partner Mark Smith launched Wiggins’ boat into the chilly waters of Caney Lake in Jackson Parish. The duo had to have been thinking about the trophy bass that Caney had been producing, including a monster 15.54 pounder caught a year earlier by Tommy Foster.
We visited with Wiggins recently and asked him to relive and share the special moments that took place just before noon that morning.
“I liked to fish a jig and Mark wanted me to show him how the jig worked and how to fish it,” said Wiggins. “We went to a spot I thought might be good and fished there for several hours without getting a bump. We took a break, went to get us a bite to eat and returned to try again.
“Soon after we got back on the lake, Mark hooked and landed a nice 4-pounder. We weighed it, made a few more casts when Mark tied into a really big bass, one that weighed over eight pounds. We took it to what was then Brown’s Landing, weighed it and headed back to the lake,” Wiggins continued.
Wiggins was still sitting in the driver’s seat when Smith made a cast and the fight was on. A monster of a bass had taken Smith’s jig but before Wiggins could net it, the fish broke off; Smith had neglected to retie his jig after landing the 8-pounder.
“I made a cast and turned around to help Mark find the bait he was looking for in a tackle box. When I looked back I saw my line ‘wobble.’ I set the hook and assumed I was hooked on a stump but then the fish started moving,” he continued.
Wiggins was afraid the fish would turn and go into the stump field where Mark had hooked his big fish but fortunately, the fish Wiggins had on the line headed for deep water.
“The fish was stripping my drag and I got on the trolling motor and followed her out into the deeper water. She finally came to the top and appeared tired and worn out so I started reeling hard and brought her to the side of the boat. Thankfully,” Wiggins said, “Mark was able to get her in the net and in the boat on the first try.”
Wiggins said he was shaking so bad and was so rattled he stuffed the bass into the smaller of the two live wells with plans to head for Brown’s to weigh it. He was so nervous he had to ask Smith to start the engine.
“When we got to Brown’s I tried to lift her out of the small live well, knocking off several scales before being successful. We weighed her on Brown’s official scales at 15.97 pounds. I really believe if I hadn’t knocked those scales loose, she might have made 16 pounds,” he laughed.
Today, the 69-year-old Wiggins enjoys getting back to bass fishing with his son-in-law. He had given up bass fishing for several years and had switched to fishing for crappie but his son-in-law talked him into getting back to bass fishing.
Wiggins turned the bass over to the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries for samples to learn what strain of bass she was, with later confirmation she was a Florida strain largemouth bass. Interestingly, samples were also taken on two other Caney bass weighing over 15 pounds and both were native largemouths.
Today, Wiggins enjoys retirement from his work in maintenance in a plant in Winnfield and spends his spare time fishing with his son-in-law. There’s a good chance, though, that when he leaves home to head for the lake, he pauses to glance at the mount of his state-record bass hanging on the wall, one that has maintained the top spot for 29 years.
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