John Blankenbaker was definitely overdue for a Toledo Bend double-digit lunker.
“I just didn’t think it was in the cards for me,” the 58-year-old Rosepine angler said. “I have had a camp on Toledo Bend for several years, but each time I had a big one on somehow it never ended up in the boat.”
But all that changed on the afternoon of Tuesday, Jan. 31 when he landed his biggest bass ever.
The angler and his buddy, Steve Presley of DeRidder, had launched from Blankenbaker’s camp and had taken 11 keepers by mid-afternoon.
“We were fishing some real shallow spots in San Patricio Creek,” he said.
Blankenbaker was flipping cypress trees in 2 ½ feet of water near the back end of the creek with a Bass Pro Shop Double-Trouble Stik-O Worm set on a 3/16-ounce Lucky Strike weighted hook. He was using 17-pound Sufix mono spooled to a Quantum Accurist reel on a 7-foot Abu Veritas rod.
At about 4 p.m., Blankenbaker felt a bump on his line.
“By the time I tightened my line to set the hook, the fish had moved 10 feet to the right of the tree,” he said. “I set the hook and the fish came close and I told Steve it may be a 6- or 7-pounder.”
Then the big bass decided to head under the boat.
“I was afraid because I could hear the line rubbing against the bottom of the boat,” he said. “Finally she turned and Steve had the net ready and scooped her.”
Blankenbaker put the big bass on a handheld digital scale, and its weight bounced between 9.13 and 9.15 pounds.
“We got the fish in the aerated livewell quickly and fished for an hour,” he said. “While we were fishing we figured that the scale may have underestimated the weight of the fish.”
So the anglers decided to batten down, trailer the boat and head south 19 miles to Toledo Town and Tackle for a certified weight of Blankenbaker’s bass.
The official scales at T-Town pegged the big fish at 10.24 pounds, making it eligible for listing in the Toledo Bend Lunker Bass Program. The bass was tagged and eventually released alive back into Toledo Bend waters.
Blankenbaker’s bass is lunker No. 32 for the 2016-17 season, and he will receive a free replica of his trophy in mid-May courtesy of the Toledo Bend Lake Association.
“Funny thing is my older sister had just given me that Lucky Strike weighted hook,” Blankenbaker said. “And it so happened I caught that fish on her hook the day of her birthday.”