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January 3, 2017 – From the time he was five years old, Cody Meyer of Grass Valley, now Auburn, wanted to be a professional bass fisherman. Not only has the angler fulfilled his dream of becoming a full-time professional bass fisherman, but at the age of the 33, he recently caught a fish that may set a new world record for spotted bass.
On December 16, Meyer was fishing at Bullards Bar Reservoir with his fishing partner, JR Wright, when he hooked a gigantic 10.8 lb. spotted bass.
“On the previous weekend, Wright and I had fished a tournament at Lake Oroville,” said Myer. “With a five fish limit weighing 9.6 pounds, we placed 4th out of 50 boats. We decided to go fishing at Bullards Bar where we had a possibility of catching big bass after the water had come up from recent storms.”
After launching their boat on the rapidly filling reservoir near the dam, they went to their first spot towards the river arm.
“That first spot produced two spotted bass weighing 6-3/4 and 8 pounds,” he said. “We left and went to our next spot. The fish were suspended at 20 feet over 100 feet of water. Wright caught his biggest spotted bass ever, a 7-1/2 pounder, there. I threw out a Strike King weightless stick bait.“
“When I hooked the big fish,” he noted, “I freaked out. I realized the fish could be a world record or at least a line class record. The fish took five minutes to get in with the 6 lb. test line I was using, but it seemed like five hours, since the fish fought like crazy all of the way to boat. Finally, my fishing partner netted it and we high-fived one another.”
He then called his CDFW game warden friend, Tim Little, who holds the current International Game Fish Association (IGFA) world record for spotted bass of 10 pounds, 6 ounces. Even though it was his day off, Little said that he would drive to the lake and certify the fish.
Meyer retied his lure on his rod and then, amazingly, caught another huge fish, an 8 lb. “spot.”
“Little then arrived at the lake to document the fish. He had a certified scale that we weighed the fish on. I then released the fish back into the lake. We took a video of the fish as it was swimming off. That fish is still there to be caught by an angler another day.”
Tim Little, who went to Bear River High School with Meyer, set the current world record in 2015.
Lou Ferrante caught a larger fish weighing 11 pounds, 3 ounces on February 21, 2015 at Bullards Bar. That fish is the current state record with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, but it is not certified by the IGFA as a world record.
Meyer applauded Little for coming up the lake to document his catch, even though it could possibly break Myer’s own record.
“Since I released the fish, I can’t do a skin mount of it, but I plan to have a replica of the fish made,” he noted.
Meyer caught the fish while using a Daiwa rod and reel with 6 lb. test Seagar fluorocarbon line.
“Both Wright and I caught our largest-ever spotted bass that day,” he said. “Our top five fish weighed 41.55 pounds. Two years ago we caught and released a five fish limit weighing 42.76 pounds while fishing the same area.”
These limits have exceeded the largest he’s caught while on the FLW Tour throughout the country.
Meyer recounted how growing up in Grass Valley, he told everyone in his family that he was going to be a professional bass angler when he grew up. “I can remember going watching fishing shows –and going out fishing on farm ponds,” he said.
When he became 15 in high school, he started fishing from a 14-foot boat with a 9.9 hp motor that his dad, a trout angler, had built. Later, he obtained a trolling motor to make targeting the bass easier.
“Every weekend my mom would drive me to Bullards Bar, Collins or Oroville,” he said. “She would leave me there all day and then come back to pick me up.”
When Meyer first started fishing Bullards Bar, the reservoir was known for its small but scrappy spotted, largemouth and smallmouth bass.
“I remember when an 8 lb. limit was a big limit of five bass,” he said. “Now when you land a fish weighing 8 pounds, it is not that big a thing because so many big bass have been caught out of the lake in recent years.”
Slowly over the years, the Alabama spotted bass population began to dominate the fishery at Bullards Bar, like it has at other foothill lakes in Northern California.
“Ten years ago we began seeing a ton of 3 lb. spotted bass in the lake,” he said. “As the numbers of fish slowly went down, the fish became bigger. Now’s there are record size spotted bass found in the lake.”
The bass in the reservoir grow big and fat on the kokanee salmon that abound there.
As a bass pro, Meyer now goes on the FLW tour across the country to fish an array of lakes and rivers, so he only gets to fish his home lake, Bullards Bar, two to three times per year.
He says he makes his living from a combination of tournament winnings and product endorsements. He won his first bass tournament at 15, winning $500. He has earned nearly $900,000 in winnings at bass tournaments across the nation.
He said his parents always supported him in his efforts to become a bass pro
“They said to me, ‘Go do it and see it works for you.’”
With his latest catch, making his living as a professional bass fisherman definitely appears to be working out for Meyer.