Lake Charles anglers Scott Eastman and Gil Leger had a well-designed plan to catch some solid fish for the Bass Champs tournament on Saturday, May 13 at Toledo Bend — and that meant heading south.
“We had found some good fish near Texas Island two weeks before the tournament,” Eastman said.
On tournament day, the anglers were fishing scattered patches of submerged grass in 12 feet of water.
Eastman, 55, was casting a Texas-rigged junebug red Zoom Ol’ Monster worm on the patches. He fished the lure on 17-pound Seaguar fluorocarbon spooled to a Lew’s reel on a Duckett 7-foot, 3-inch Micro Magic Pro rod.
“We caught a couple of small fish which we eventually culled later,” he said.
It was about 8 when Eastman felt a thump on his line followed by something heavy taking off with his lure.
“I set the hook, and then she came up to where I could see her,” he said.
Then the big fish started taking line.
“She came back around as I worked her, and Gil had the net ready,” Eastman said. “I remember Gil saying, ‘Oh my God,’ when the fish was about in the net.”
For a while, the anglers admired Eastman’s giant bass before placing it in the livewell.
“Your fish may be bigger than the one I caught,” said Leger, referring to his 11.48-pounder that won first place in the Sealy Big Bass Splash on Toledo Bend in 2015.“We both thought the bass weighed more than it actually did,” Eastman said.
The anglers fished the rest of the day, taking four more fish to weigh-in at the Bass Champs scale.
Officially, Eastman’s lunker weighed 10.99 pounds, and he received a replica courtesy of the Toledo Bend Lake Association.
His hefty bass was recorded as lunker No. 72, the last double-digit bass taken during the 2016-17 season of the Toledo Bend Lunker Bass Program.
Eastman and Leger ended up placing eighth out of 244 teams fishing the Bass Champs tournament, with five fish weighing 19.1 pounds.
“I never expected to catch that big fish during the tournament,” Eastman said. “We were on to a bunch of 3- and 4-pound fish earlier, and I was just hoping we would catch a good limit of those.”