Mansfield’s Frank Canizaro Jr. and his fishing buddy Andrew Pilcher initially set out on Toledo Bend’s waters near Huxley Bay on Jan. 11 in search of crappie.

Fortunately for Canizaro, the panfish bite didn’t materialize, so they shifted tactics and targeted bass, pitching jigs in 5 feet of water among cypress trees in the area. 

“We had a warming trend going on, and the water temperature was 58 degrees,” said Canizaro, 29.

Both anglers immediately started hooking up, and they quickly had three nice fish in the livewell — one at 6 pounds, and a couple of 3-pounders. 

Canizaro was pitching a black-neon V&M Flatline jig tied to 15-pound Sunline fluorocarbon spooled to an Abu Garcia Skeet Reese Revo on a 7-foot, 6-inch Kistler Halo rod.

About 9:30, he felt a thump and initially thought he was hooked on a tree. 

The angler let his line slack and then pulled for a second time, resulting in it moving off while pulling some drag.

“I told Andrew to get the net,” Canizaro said — but unfortunately there was no net in the boat.

“I was able to work the bass up to the boat near Andrew,” he said. “He grabbed the line and pulled up the bass, and reached down and lipped her into the boat.”

When he saw the huge bass, Canizaro knew it was a lunker-class fish, but initially thought it was even larger than what it would eventually weigh. He had reeled in a 12.2-pounder years ago before the Toledo Bend Lunker Bass Program was so popular.

They put the bass into the livewell and fished for a few more minutes before trailering the boat and heading to Toledo Town and Tackle, where the big fish officially weighed-in at 10.55 pounds. 

It was the first lunker for 2017 in the Toledo Bend Lunker Bass Program, and is lunker No. 26 for the current season, which ends later this spring. 

Since the bass weighed at least 10 pounds and was released back into Toledo Bend waters, Canizaro will receive a complimentary replica of the fish in May courtesy of the Toledo Bend Lake Association.