Chad Williams was a very happy man after his recent trip to Toledo Bend for the Sealy Outdoors Big Bass Splash tournament.

The 52-year-old angler from Fouke, Ark.,and his cousin Oscar Givens of Texarkana, Texas, were among the 2,465 participants fishing the popular 3-day tournament that ended Sunday. 

The anglers started their morning Friday in the Lanan Creek area — a location where both have taken good fish for six years.

“Right off, my cousin broke off on a good one as it ran straight away from the boat,” Williams said. “Then I had one which could have been 6 to 8 pounds jump and shake off my Bill Norman DD22 crankbait.”

Williams repositioned his boat over 22 feet of water to cast into submerged brush piles sitting in 12-foot depths. Both anglers also changed their lures and tied on Strike King chartreuse sexy shad 10XD crankbaits.

Williams’ plug was tied to 17-pound Seaguar InvizX fluorocarbon spooled to a Lew’s BB2 reel on a 7-foot 11-inch Power Tackle rod.

“As my lure was working through the brush pile, a bass hit,” he said. “She came right up shallow and showed herself just below the water.”

Seeing it was a huge bass, Williams used the trolling motor to position the boat in open water.

“She stayed out there running just 2 feet below the surface,” he said.

Williams said the fish was taking drag while swimming in a semicircle, and eventually landed in the net Givens had waiting.

He immediately placed the giant in the livewell, but neither man was sure if the big bass was a double-digit fish.

They fished for another 45 minutes and waited until the 8- to 9-a.m. hour to officially weigh the big bass. Since Williams had purchased the bonus shirt for the tournament, he would double his payout for the hour for the largest bass weighed in at that time.

But during the wait, Givens wanted to know the weight of the fish so Williams weighed it quickly on his hand-held scale.

“It weighed 10.12 pounds on that scale,” Williams said, noting the fish had been previously tagged in the Toledo Bend Lunker Bass program. 

Then the anglers returned to the Sealy Outdoors scales at Cypress Bend Park to obtain a certified weight, where it tipped the scales officially at 10.86 pounds.

A review of the tag records indicated Williams’ bass was initially taken on Feb. 27, 2016, by Matt West in Buck Creek. The bass weighed 12.25 pounds then and appeared to be full of roe.

Williams endured a long three-day wait until Sunday — when he found out his bass was the largest fish taken during the event.

His total winnings included $10,000 in cash, a 2017 Triton 19 TrX powered by Mercury, a Minn Kota trolling motor, Lowrance Navionics and trailer — not to mention a 2017 Ram 1500 pickup to pull his brand-new boat.

His huge bass is now lunker No. 1 entered in the new 2017-18 Toledo Bend Lunker Bass Program season.

Immediately following the tournament, the Toledo Bend Lake Association awarded anglers 72 replicas representing lunkers 10-pounds-and-over taken, tagged and released during the 2016-17 season.

The awarding of 72 replicas ranks third for the number of lunkers caught and replicas distributed in a single season in the last 25 years of the lunker program.