My first big smallie came out of the Big River in the Bonne Terre area about 3 years ago. It can't compare with some of the behemoths on this thread, but for 12 year old me it was a special fish. It was on a stretch of river me and my dad fished annually, and he had caught several smallmouth in the 18"-20" range over the years. I had already been having a banner day; having caught twin 16" smallies on a rebel craw on an ultralight setup as well as a 24" channel catfish in a deep bluff hole. As the sun was beginning to set the smallmouth began to aggressively feed on bugs on the surface. At our takeout my dad suggested I fish a popper while he loaded up the truck. He left for about 15 minutes to get something for the house on the property we were staying at, and while he was gone I hooked into my biggest smallmouth to date. I still remember the explosion that fish made on my 2" rebel popper. After a nervy fight I was able to measure it against my 5 foot berkeley lightning rod, and later I measured up to the spot the fish lined up to, and it was a hair under 19". The kicker is that nobody saw me catch this fish. I would usually be angry that nobody could back me up about catching the fish, but I enjoyed that moment alone in an Ozark streak with a trophy of a fish nearly as old as me. That is the kind of fish that keeps you coming back to the Ozarks, and I hope to one day connect with another fish of that class.