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By Louie Stout

Todd Vydick with his big smallmouth

Todd Vydick’s primary hope was to improve his personal best when he hired Cody Johnson to guide him for big smallmouth in the Traverse City, Mich. area.

“My biggest bass up to that point was 6.1 pounds,” said Vydick of Hartland, Mich. “I try to improve my personal best every time I fish with Todd.”

Well, mission accomplished – and in spades. Vydick not only bettered his biggest when he landed a 9.3-pound smallmouth, but also came up about a half pound shy of tying the Michigan record.

They fished into the evening last Monday when they encountered a school of smallmouth holding on a small grass patch in about 20 feet of water.

The Brighton, Mich. guide said he spotted the school along a drop-off on his Humminbird Side Imaging unit. He doesn’t have forward-facing sonar.

That’s where the behemoth bass ate Todd’s ¼-ounce, green pumpkin Strike King coffee tube. He knew it was big, but had no idea it was that big.

“I told Todd, ‘there’s your 6 pounder’,” recalled Johnson, who guides for Marcel’s Guide Service (www.marcelsguideservice.com), one of the most prominent guide services in Michigan.

“The fish boiled on the surface and I told Todd to not horse him,” Johnson added. “I didn’t realize how big he was until we netted him.”

Todd's bass was over 9 lbs.The Rapala digital scale, which Johnson says is accurate, proved it was a lot bigger than they initially thought.

“The fish was too fat to jump,” Johnson joked. “When it rolled into the net, I was like, oh my God, what have we here!”

Photos were taken and the fish was released. Since Michigan’s season is catch-and-release only, they felt the law prevented them from putting the fish in the livewell to get an official weight.

“We sat down and giggled for more than an hour,” said VyDick. “It was the first of a four-day guided trip that Cody and I have been talking about for a year.”

Vydick was using a medium action, 7-foot St. Croix Mojo Bass rod and a Shimano Stradic spinning reel spooled with 10-pound Seaguar Smackdown braid and a 10-pound Seaguar InvisX leader.

“We caught 25 or 30 out of that school, including a 5.4, a bunch of 4s and a mix of other sizes,” said Johnson, who guides northern Michigan for big fish in the spring and at Lake St. Clair throughout the summer.

Cody Johnson (left) takes a selfie of him and Todd Vydick with his 9-pound Michigan smallmouth.

Cody Johnson (left) takes a selfie of him and Todd Vydick with his 9-pound Michigan smallmouth.

“We were just two dudes out there fishing and having a good time,” said Vydick.

Yeah, two dudes that caught a giant smallmouth that nearly challenged the state record.