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Lifelong Passionate Angler Catches Giant Bass with Bare Hands

Lifelong Passionate Angler Catches Giant Bass with Bare Hands

Robert Earl Woodard, a passionate angler from Alabama, has a very particular way of catching lunker bass. He uses no rod, reel, or fishing line; all he needs to catch his trophy fish is his hands!

Continue reading this article and find out how Robert got into hand-landing largemouth bass, how it feels to catch such big and powerful creatures with your bare hands, and what his PB bass is.

It doesn’t happen very often, but every once in a while, I find a really unique and fascinating fishing story online that I would like to find out more about and write down here on Strike&Catch.

Robert’s story is a perfect example!

His lifelong passion for the sport is a true inspiration, and naturally, I wanted to know more about his life as a fisherman and his unbelievable way of catching big bass.

Thanks to Facebook and modern technology, that wasn’t a problem at all, and Robert and I had a very nice phone call during which we talked about his love for bass fishing.

Interview with Robert Earl Woodard (the Bass Whisperer)

A classic Q&A-style interview article fits these types of stories best, I find, so let’s get right to it!

How did you come up with the idea of hand-landing bass, and when did you first start catching them that way?

Courtesy of Robert Earl Woodard

“In my mid-20s, after I’d graduated from Auburn University, I put a few bass in one of our farm ponds, and those fish depleted the food supply very quickly.

So I started fiddling up some worms, and I’d go up to the pond and throw in a can full of worms every day or every other day.

After a while, when I’d walk up, the fish would start coming to me, waiting on me to throw them worms in.

One day, my friend was there with me, and you know how youngsters are at that age; they like to boast about this and that.

I said to him: you see that 7-pounder out there? I’m fixing to catch her with my bare hands!

And obviously, his reply was: you’re crazy!

So I put that fiddle worm in the water and started pulling it around, and soon enough, the bass struck it.

I was very quick and caught her right in the mouth.

And that was the very first bass I caught by hand. That was about 50 years ago, and I’m still doing it to this day!”

How difficult is it to catch big largemouth bass this way?

“Those big bass of 14, 15, or 16 pounds have unbelievable strength! As you can see in the video; when I caught that 16-pounder, she pulled me about a foot across the pier.

So, they are very strong fish, but with experience, I think you learn what that bass feel is like and how you can control it.

After the initial explosion, the fish realizes that it just needs to quit fighting, and that’s pretty much when you’ve got the fish under control.

But during those first couple of minutes, you really don’t know if you’re going to haul that fish or not. It’s not easy!”

What is the biggest bass you’ve ever caught by hand and on a rod and reel?

Courtesy of Robert Earl Woodard

“My personal best is an 18-pound bass that I have caught by hand. I caught it back in 2019, and I have been trying for five years now to beat that record.

That fish is the largest bass that I know of that has been caught in Alabama.

The biggest largemouth bass I have ever caught on a rod and reel was a fish of 17.1 pounds that I caught back in 2018.

I caught her on a Mann’s Razorback Crankbait.

That bass would have been a new Alabama state record, but I never certified her.

I was afraid the fish would die before I could get the biologist to certify it, and she was too close to 20 pounds to let her die, so I let her go.”

Do you catch other species by hand as well?

“I’ve caught both catfish and bass by hand, but I have never attempted to catch another species that way.

However, if you check my YouTube channel, you’ll see that I feed bream out of my hand all the time.

Their mouths are so small, which is probably the reason why I’ve never attempted it, but I could probably catch a bream by hand if I’d set my mind to it!”

Tell us more about the book on bass fishing that you’ve published.

Courtesy of Robert Earl Woodard

A lot of people ask me a lot of questions about pond management and how I catch all of these large bass.

So, when I decided to write my book, “Eye to Eye with Big Bass,” I was trying to answer all of those questions.

The first part of the book is about how I caught all those fish on public waters.

The middle part is about the management of trophy lakes.

The last part of the book is about my pond management and how I raised all of these big bass in my lakes.

It has been very rewarding to publish that book because it has helped a lot of people understand the basic knowledge of fishing.

Do you think you will catch that 20-pounder one day?

“Last year, I found a bass in my pond that I suspected weighed 20 pounds. I attempted to catch her on a rod and reel but didn’t manage.

And sadly, I do not know if that fish is still alive.

I’ve got a few 17 and 18-pounders, but I’m not sure there are other 19 or 20-pounders. But I’d try to catch one and try to establish a new (state) record if I could.

My age and my arthritis in my hands are getting where I don’t have the strength I did even two years ago, so I really don’t know if I could catch a fish that size by hand anymore.”

Watch Robert Hand-Land Giant Bass on Youtube

If you want to watch Robert catch a bunch of his monster bass, be sure to check out his YouTube channel: Robert Earl Woodard Bass Fishing

There is some really amazing footage on there!

Check Out Robert’s Books

As mentioned above, Robert has written a book filled with experiences, tips, and tricks about the topics of bass fishing and pond and lake management.

If you’d like to order a signed copy of “Eye to Eye with Big Bass,” you can reach out to Robert directly on Facebook.

Just shoot him a DM, and he’ll be happy to get back to you.

Robert has also written a second book called “The Way It Was Back Then”.

It’s a heartwarming collection of a country boy’s stories of life lived way back before technology so dramatically changed our world. 

The Way It Was Back Then showcases that beautiful past and the real value of hard work that the modern world has long forgotten.

Definitely a very interesting and highly relevant topic in our day and age!

I want to thank Robert for the nice talk we had and for taking the time to answer all of my questions.

I wish him many more trophy bass, long days, and pleasant nights.

Go catch that 20-pounder, Robert! You deserve it.

Tight lines!

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  1. Sharon Woodard says:

    Great article!!