A Big Bass Pioneer

L.J. Brasher’s Big Bass Wall of Fame, from Bassmaster Jan./Feb. 1980

I was surfing across the web the other night when I stumbled upon a story featuring L.J. Brasher. L.J. was one of the first, or at least one of the more well publicized strictly big bass chasers, tromping around the backroads of Florida looking for off the beaten path potholes harboring overlooked giant bass. He would fish for days at a time, chunking giant musky Jitterbugs all night long.   The year was 1980. Hank Parker had just won BASSMASTER Classic IX using a hot new technique called flipping developed out on the west coast. Lake San Vincente and the San Diego area in California was the talk of the big bass world, where a then 39 year old big bass angler named Bill Murphy spent hours developing a lead-core trolling method with repainted Rapala’s in rainbow trout color, plying the deep open waters during the winter.

L.J. Brasher was featured in a 3-part article in the Jan. & Feb. issues of BASSMASTER on trophy bass angling the potholes and ponds around the Florida panhandle. A transmission worker by day (Brasher Transmission is still located in Opelika, AL), L.J. was credited at the time for having caught in excess of 1,000 bass over the 10-lb. mark at that point in his career. Just a teenager then, myself and a couple fishing friends would joke about being like Brasher, fishing 72-hours straight and chasing big bass. His stories were like western gunslinger stories to us, bigger than life and full of excitement. As it would turn out, Florida bass got less and less big fish coverage as California was the place to be, outside of some routine Doug Hannon stories…and we never heard much more about Brasher.   A website says he passed away back around 1997, but his articles are still fresh in my mind and a reminder to some of the early days of big bass angling.

From those articles, a few excerpts featuring bits of Brasher theory:

  • “If you are going to take hawgs, you’ve got to fish in lakes containing BIG BASS. Most bass fishermen lose their opportunities to take lunkers by wasting time fishing in lakes that have plenty of fish but few trophy bass.”
  • “The lake in Florida, must have an alligator. Having a gator present indicates the lake didn’t dry up the previous summer.”
  • “In spite of Brasher’s relentless attitude toward fishing, his technique is very simple: Use the biggest bait you can find – The heaviest tackle you can purchase – and then outlast the bass.”
  • “The bait Brasher fishes is the old-style wooden, muskie Jitterbug, modified to Brasher’s bassin’ mode.”
  • “Your rod must have the backbone to move a freight train or haul a bass out of lily pads or coontail moss without any trouble.”
  • “From this data Brasher has determined that between 2:45-3:15 a.m. with no moon is the optimum time to take trophy largemouth bass in his selected lunkerland.”
  • “My fish can’t live in a livewell. They’re too large , and would have to be bent up to fit in.”
  • “I would prefer to catch the world’s record on a Jitterbug, but if he takes the shiner, I won’t be heartbroken.”
  • “Mainly I’m not a guide because I don’t want somebody else catching my fish. If I were guiding and a client caught THE world record bass, I’m afraid there would be a killing.”

And a couple links to the few stories on the web you can still find about this man: