Huge 16-3 bass caught literally with hands

Ron McDonald, Editor & Publisher Southern Fishing News

The 16-3 caught by hand (I guess “caught” is the right word) was just shy of the Alabama record for a largemouth bass. The record bass stands at 16 lbs., 8 oz., and was caught in 1987 by Thomas (T. M.) Burgin from View Lake in Shelby County.


Robert Earl Woodward. REW photo

You may have already heard about this “hand angler”. His name is Robert Earl Woodward of Blount County, Alabama. Woodward is a retired elementary school physical education teacher who created a pond on his property with the express purpose of raising big bass to catch by hand. That’s right folks, with his hands.

Many (I mean MANY) years ago I was fishing Wilson Lake in North Alabama and my reel locked up while retrieving the plastic worm. After a few expletives, I began bringing my line in by hand, and along the way, a bass took the worm. I “reeled” the bass in (about 2 pounds as I recall) with my hands and thought I had really accomplished something grand until I heard about Woodward who regularly caught big bass with his hands including one weighing sixteen pounds, three ounces in 2016.

His passion for this kind of catching bass even resulted in a book he self-published with the title of, “Eye to Eye with Big Bass”.

I asked Damon Lee Abernethy, Assistant Chief of Fisheries, Alabama Wildlife & Freshwater Fisheries, if he had heard of Woodward and his big bass, Abernathey replied, “I sure have. I know the man and have been to his pond. Unfortunately, he wouldn’t let me fish but he did let me feed them! He says growing them to 16 pounds is easy, but 18 pounds is real hard.”

Kickinbass being caught by hand. REW photos

Ironically, Woodward says he thumbed the same bass about two years later in 2018. This time he estimated the bass to have grown to around 20 lbs, Here’s his Facebook page post about that encounter, “Another one of my photos (a photo of him holding the 16-3). This is the famous bass named Kickinbass. She weighed 16.3 pounds when I caught her. I released her and attempted to catch her again in 2018 by hand at around 20 pounds. She almost broke my thumb and escaped my grip…never to be touched again. I still have ligaments in my thumb that hurts from that day. She disappeared in 2019., I guess dying from old age. Her photos like this one appear in web sites across the web and share [shared] by thousands on Facebook. Kickinbass was famous.”

Woodward has gripped a 16-7 since then he has named Bug Eyes.

Woodard has several videos on YouTube about his book and of course ole Kickinbass. Here are a couple of links to videos: Eye To Eye With Big Bass; and Kickinbass.

I guess I have now contributed to the legend of Kickinbass. May he rest in peace.

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