“It was like nothing I’d ever heard before as far as a fish hitting top water,” Jinks recalled. “I sat back on the hook and I thought ‘Wow! This is a big fish.’ I first thought it might be a stripe, but it didn’t take off up or down the river like stripe normally do.”
Jinks was fishing in the Airport Marine Solo Classic tournament that day, July 31. Tournament rules allowed fishermen to use the waters of Lay Lake, Logan Martin, Jordan or Mitchel Lake. The Childersburg Alfa insurance agent chose to stay at his home lake, Lay Lake.
“I can be up and on the water and fishing in about 15-20 minutes,” Jinks said of Lay Lake. “I can spend a couple hours out there in the morning and get home and still get to the office at a decent time, especially when it gets daylight at 5 and 5:30 a.m. When you’re just 10 minutes away from the lake, it’s just somewhere real close. It’s one of my favorite places I’ve fished over the years.”
Jinks’ big catch came on only his fifth or sixth cast of the morning. It isn’t uncommon for fishermen to find their biggest catch early in the day. Typically, fishermen start out at their favorite spot.
In fact, Jinks and his good friend Kenny Boggan plotted out where they would fish prior to the tournament. According to their original plan, Boggan was to fish near the spot where Jinks eventually started fishing. The night before the tournament, Boggan called Jinks around 10 p.m. to tell Jinks he wanted to start out at a different spot and Jinks should fish there instead. Jinks said he used the specific spot where he found his record-setting catch as a warm-up prior to hitting his desired location.
“I was just at the right place at the right time,” Jinks explained modestly. “I’ve fished the river out there probably 35 years or so. It just worked out that it was my day.”
After hooking the fish, Jinks knew he had a big catch, but he didn’t think it was a record-setting catch.
“I had caught a 10-pounder before, so I was thinking nine pounds because you just don’t think about a 10 or 11-pounder coming off the river,” Jinks explained. “I got him in the Livewell; I was a little nervous. I thought, ‘Wow, what a way to start a tournament.’”
Roughly 25 years ago, Jinks caught his first 10-pounder with Sylacauga taxidermist, Jimmy Potts. When most were still asleep, Jinks and Potts traveled to the Alabama-Georgia border to fish at West Point, a place well known for quality bass fishing. Jinks had long wondered what it would take for him to get a free mount of a fish from Potts, who made it clear he would give him one if it was more than 10 pounds. Jinks weighed in at 10.2 pounds, so he got a free mount. He was insistent his latest catch be mounted by Potts, too.
“I wouldn’t have had anybody else mount it but Jimmy Potts,” Jinks said.
The official measurement for the record books is 11.46 pounds. The initial weigh-in at the tournament scales at Beeswax Landing measured the fish at 11.22 pounds, which was good enough to propel Jinks to a tournament win. Jinks estimates there were 45-49 boats in the Airport Marine Solo Classic tournament. The Airport Marine tournament, held July 27 at Lay Lake, featured 61 registrants and 43 fishermen who had a formal weigh-in.
“I called one or two of my buddies and I told them, ‘You ain’t gonna’ believe what happened,’” Jinks recalled. “Of course, they said ‘Ah, you didn’t!’ I said ‘Yeah, I did, too.’
The first person Jinks called was Boggan.
“That phone rang and he called me and I could tell he was just about shaking,” Boggan recalled. “I could just about tell he was shaking over the phone. He was excited out of the world. He told me ‘I’ve got the biggest fish I’ve ever caught in my life.’ I said ‘Really?’ It was pretty cool for him to catch it. He’s fished that river 35 years, so he deserved to catch it. There’s no doubt about it because there’s not many people that have fished as hard as he has out there.”
At the prodding of his friends, Jinks had the fish weighed on certified scales in Vincent at Smith’s Associated Foods. Following that weigh-in, Jinks had to travel north to Ohatchee to have a marine biology state official also measure the fish and complete formal paperwork. Upon completion, Jinks became not only the record holder for a largemouth bass at Lay Lake, but he also earned the state record for largest bass ever recorded during a tournament.
When Terry Jinks was a teenager, his father, Woody Jinks, was diagnosed with cancer. As a form of relief, the father and son went fishing together. His father died in 1980, but Terry, who says he got his fishing genes from his father, still views fishing the same way: as an outlet in which he is able to see the world through a different lens. He still fishes to this day in a 1950s model boat he inherited from his father.
To hear Jinks talk about fishing, it is difficult not to detect his passion for the sport.
“I love fishing. That’s my primary hobby, and I take it seriously,” Jinks said. “It gives you an opportunity to get your head straight. You can see things that the everyday person running down 280 isn’t going to see.”