Lea Anne Powell’s already extensive resume has a new entry. Along with race car driver, TV host, competition angler, and cover model, she is now a pending International Game Fish Association largemouth bass record holder.
Powell, of Lake Jackson, Texas, is awaiting certification as holder of the women’s 12-pound class record, having caught (and released) a 12-pound, 3-ounce jumbo at O.H. Ivie Lake in late February. The bass was her second personal best in 15 hours; she boated a 10.6-pound largemouth the previous evening.
Powell was fishing with her friend Dalton Smith, owner of Dalton Smith Guide Service, on his time off.
“We just planned on hanging out and having a good time,” she said. “We didn’t plan on breaking any personal bests.” Tossing a Strike King 10XD crankbait, Smith caught a bass they guessed was around seven pounds, then handed the rod back to Powell, who was soon connected to a 10.6-pounder.
“When she hit, the line just went soft,” Powell said. “I started winding and then felt pressure. I’m pretty sure everyone on that lake heard me, because I lost my mind. I was yelling and jumping.” Her previous best bass was 7.8 pounds.
The pair were back on O.H. Ivie the next morning. An impoundment of the Colorado and Concho rivers about 200 miles west of Dallas that gave up a 17-pounder this winter, the lake is stocked and fished hard. This time, Powell was using an Ugly Stik spinning rod, an old reel spooled with Seaguar Red Label 10-pound fluorocarbon, a Damiki jig head, and a small 6th Sense soft plastic swimbait (white with a chartreuse tail).
“We showed that bass a very small presentation, compared to what most people are throwing at O.H. Ivie,” she said. “It is stocked, but it is a giant body of water that is highly pressured.” Using a Garmin LiveScope from Smith’s tournament boat, the two could watch educated bass reject baits and then sidle up alongside some cover, seemingly spooked by the lure and finished feeding for the time being. “These big fish didn’t get big by being stupid,” she said.
The likely record fish put up the kind of tussle you would expect, forcing Powell to tighten and loosen drag during the fight as the bass bulldogged among sunken saltcedar trees. When it was finally in the net, the hook fell out of the fish’s mouth.
“We put her in the live well and had to take her to Elm Creek RV & Campgrounds, which had the certified scale,” Powell said. The bass went to the scale in a weigh bag, was measured and weighed, returned to the livewell, and back to O.H. Ivie. “She was released cleanly, and goes back to torment people who don’t know how to finagle big ol’ fish,” Powell recalled with a laugh.
Auto racing takes up much of Powell’s bio, but she’s also a self-described fishing fanatic. After losing both of her parents and a close friend in late 2014 and 2015, she took up fishing in, of all places, the Middle East, where she worked as a driving coach at the Yas Marina Circuit Formula 1 facility in Abu Dhabi.
“I met some locals and started fishing,” she said. “I had a natural knack for it and I just homed in on it. I don’t do much in moderation. I found both peace and excitement in it.”