Mike Thaxton and his fishing partner Tony Ivy were among the thousand-plus anglers fishing various club tournaments Saturday on Toledo Bend.
Launching early at Jack’s 944 landing on the Texas side, both anglers were hoping for a good bag of fish to weigh in for their own local Toledo Bass Club tournament.
Thaxton didn’t know it then, but he was just hours away from catching the bass of a lifetime.
“It was cloudy and foggy early in the morning, and the winds were out of the south,” the 48-year-old Many angler said.
They started out fishing Rat-L-Traps and spoons with no takers, then transitioned to pitching Senkos and jigs in the hay grass in Housen.
“Still not catching fish, we decided to move across to the other side of Housen and flip the stumps with jigs,” Thaxton said.
But there, too, the going was tough.
“I told Tony the fish seem to have pushed back in 7 to 8 feet of water, so we started back across Housen at about 10:50,” he said.
Since they were going to fish deeper, the anglers changed over to Carolina rigs, and Thaxton tied on a green-pumpkin-red-chartreuse Zoom Brush Hog. He was fishing with 15-pound P-Line fluorocarbon spooled to a Lew’s Pro Speed baitcaster on a 7-foot, 6-inch medium-heavy 13 Fishing Omen rod.
“I was casting in 8 to 10 feet of water and working the bait slowly back to me in 4 feet,” Thaxton said. “My first fish taken on the C-rig was a 3 ½-pounder.”
A little later, Thaxton noted the sun was peeking through the cloud cover, so he told Ivy they were moving to deeper waters near the edge of a hard sand flat.
He also changed the color of his Brush Hog to watermelon-red.
“At 12:45, I felt my Stanley Wedge Weight hit some wood, and as I started to pull it over my line just got heavy,” he said. “It got heavy and kept pulling, so I knew then it was a good fish.”
Thaxton set the hook and immediately told Ivy to ready the net.
“The fish was coming to me and I was trying to catch up the slack as fast as I could,” he said. “Then she made a strong run and jumped.”
Thaxton initially figured he had a bass ranging somewhere between 8 and 10 pounds after seeing the fish in the distance.
“Tony was working hard on the net, as it had come apart,” Thaxton said. “Thankfully, he was able to get the frame back together.
“The fish had me moving from one side of the boat to the other as it was taking drag.”
Eventually, the fish came up on its side and Ivy netted it aboard.
“When I saw her I hollered pretty loud out there,” Thaxton said. “We placed her in the livewell and strapped everything down to head immediately to Toledo Town and Tackle.”
At T-Town, Thaxton’s bass officially weighed 12.37 pounds on certified scales, easily his largest bass ever taken.
“She was 24 ¾ inches long and 21 5/8 inches round,” he said.
Thaxton’s big bass was tagged and released back into Toledo Bend waters, and became lunker No. 42 entered into the Toledo Bend Lunker Bass Program for the 2016-17 season.
In May, Thaxton will receive a free replica of his lunker courtesy of the Toledo Bend Lake Association.