Craig May woke up Friday preparing for a morning of crappie fishing on Toledo Bend.
But before the 60-year-old from Fairmount, Texas left for the lake, his wife Connie mentioned that a 10-pound bass would look really nice on the wall of his man cave.
Since he was targeting sac a lait, the Monroe native didn’t give it much thought — until his third cast later that morning.
May and fishing buddy Ralph Logan were on the lake in the Housen area by 7 after launching at Fin & Feather Resort.
“The crappie were reported to be in the back of the pockets and moving shallow to spawn,” May said.
They arrived in an opening to a cut where he knew crappie would stage before moving into the shallows. It was a submerged ledge holding a good bit of hydrilla – one of the few areas making a comeback with the submerged vegetation.
“I had just shut the motor down and drifted in,” May said. “It happened on my third cast before any crappie were taken.”
May was using the most typical artificial lure for crappie – a black-and-chartreuse tube jig pegged to a homemade 1/16-ounce lead head.
The lure was tied to 6-pound green mono spooled to a lite Shakespeare Crappie Hunter spinning reel fixed to a 7-foot Bass Pro Micro Lite spinning rod.
“I felt a little thump then pulled back and instantly knew it was a bass,” he said. “It didn’t move and she started swimming slowly off.”
May alerted Logan he had a big bass on as the fish stripped 30 feet of the 6-pound mono off the spinning reel.
“I saw him boil up,” May said. “Then the fish turned and ran down the length of my 21-foot boat, taking another 30 to 40 feet of line.
“Then she came up tail-walking, but had her back to us so we couldn’t see her actual width.”
Looking at the fish’s back, May initially suspected he had latched on to an 8-pounder.
“Then she dove down and hung into a hydrilla patch,” he said. “I kept a tight line and felt her again when she came up out of it.”
As the fish kept pulling drag, it tangled itself in two more patches of hydrilla before May eased closer with his trolling motor — and caught a break.
“I lifted the rod and felt her tugging,” he said. “So I started to slowly pull her up.
“And somehow by the grace of God she came straight up and into the net.”
All May and Logan could figure was the big fish was simply worn out.
When Logan pulled the lunker out of the water, May knew he had a 10-pounder: The angler has taken 23 other 10-pounders with his largest bass ever — a 14.2-pounder — coming out of Sam Rayburn.
Of course, he wasn’t fishing with crapppie tackle for any of those fish.
“We immediately placed her in the livewell and headed right over to Fin & Feather for certification,” May said.
On Fin & Feather’s certified scales, the big fish weighed 10.36 pounds, and is lunker No. 35 entered into the Toledo Bend Lunker Bass Program for the 2016-17 season.
Since the bass weighed 10 pounds and was later tagged and released, May will receive a free replica courtesy of the Toledo Bend Lake Association.
May and Logan returned to the area and ended the trip with 27 nice crappie and a couple of nice bass, including 3- and 4-pound fish.