With a full moon and dead calm conditions, the stage was set at for a good night-fishing trip on  Thursday, Sept. 15 — and Toledo Bend didn’t disappoint. 

Sulphur’s Dwayne Hyatt, his son Ethan and friend Jay Romero of Lake Charles launched from Pirate’s Cove about 9 p.m. and headed for a deep gully in the 6 Mile area where Romero had located solid numbers of bass.

They were casting Texas-rigged junebug Zoom Ol’ Monster Worms and working them on the ledges to the bottom.

Hyatt, who lost his left arm in an industrial accident five years ago, now casts with his right hand and then tucks the rod under his left armpit to retrieve the lure.

“We were catching well,” Hyatt said. “We had eight to 10 keepers when Jay hooked onto a really good fish – an 8.4 pounder.

“We kept fishing as Jay and Ethan caught a few more, and I had only one keeper.”

The anglers decided to give the area a rest and move to another spot.

At around 12:45 a.m., they decided to return to the first location and caught a few more.

During a retrieve, the angler moved the rod to his armpit and made one crank on the reel.

“That’s when it hit,” Hyatt said. “At first it felt that I had snagged something, but I knew there wasn’t anything down on the bottom.”

So he reeled down and made a firm hookset.

“I told Ethan that it was a good fish,” Hyatt said.

The big bass was already close to the boat and still pulled some drag.

“I was able to work the bass up as it moved toward the back of the boat,” he said. “Then it came up and rolled, and we were able to see it in the light of the full moon.

"Ethan said it was a huge bass.”

Hyatt worked the lunker to the boat, and Ethan lipped it aboard for his father.

“After we placed it in the livewell, we all just sort of sat there taking in the moment,” Hyatt said. “We had a great night with several keepers, including Jay’s 8.4-pounder and this huge fish. 

“Jay figured it would go above 10 pounds.”

The anglers continued to fish until 5 a.m. and caught a few more keepers.

“I kept checking that livewell looking at that bass with eyes the size of 50-cent pieces,” Hyatt said.

The anglers returned to Pirate’s Cove to drop off Ethan, who had classes later that morning at LSU-Shreveport.

“Then we went to Fin and Feather to weigh the fish,” he said.

On certified scales, Hyatt’s fish officially weighed 10.37 pounds — his largest bass ever.  

While examining the big bass, the angler noted a tag indicating the fish had been taken before.

Records from the Toledo Bend Lunker Bass Program indicated Hyatt’s bass was initially landed on April 8 — when it weighed 11.42 pounds during the spawn — by Jay Norsworthy in the same general area. Incredibly, the fish was caught a second time by Jordan Babcock or Orange, Texas on May 21 when it weighed 11.12 pounds, also in the 6 Mile area. 

Hyatt’s bass is lunker No. 17 for the 2016-17 Toledo Bend Lunker Bass Program season.

It was released alive, and Hyatt will receive a free replica of his fish courtesy of the Toledo Bend Lake Association next May.

“I really have to give a lot of thanks to Jay for putting us on these wonderful fish,” Hyatt said.

According to Dinah Medine, coordinator of the TBLBP, lunkers were fewer so far this summer, but the total is just 10 behind last year’s tally at this time.