Seventy-five-year-old Mike Plank arrived at Toledo Bend on Valentines Day to begin a two-month fishing fest, with the goal of catching "whatever is biting."
He and a buddy began by targeting crappie — but he received the surprise of his life Feb. 23 when a lunker bass swallowed his Road Runner tied to 6-pound-test line.
"I was thinking I was going to lose it," Plank said. "Any bass could have taken off and broken 10-pound test.
"My friend, who is more of a bass fisherman than me, said it would go 10 or 11 pounds."
The massive fish, once landed, stretched the tape to 25 inches with a girth of 18 inches, measurements that should have reached the 10-pound mark, according to Scottie Lucas of Scottie's Taxidermy.
Oddly, the bass weighed-in at 8 1/2 pounds on two scales.
The Steelville, Mo., angler hooked the huge-framed fish after moving to Hurricane Bay from Housen Bay, in which he and his buddy had caught a number of crappie the preceeding days.
"The weather had them messed up, so we moved down there," Plank said.
They were fishing about 50 yards off an island, targeting vegetation.
"We were fishing all by ourselves," Plank said. "There were some other boats at the head of the island, but we just stayed off by ourselves."
Plank was tossing a black/blue Road Runner when he felt a fish strike.
"I set the hook and it was solid," he said. "I thought I had a catfish."
The fish didn't really pull that hard; it was just heavy.
"He didn't really take a whole lot of line off the reel," Plank said. "He just kind of came on in."
But when the fish surfaced off the boat, the angler's heart began racing.
"The biggest bass I've caught at Toledo Bend is 5 pounds," Plank explained. "This is the biggest bass I've ever caught."
After showing itself, the bass gave the anglers a bit of a scare.
"It wanted to go under the boat," Plank said. "And then it jumped.
"My friend told me, 'Keep that line tight.'"
Plank worried about the light line breaking as he pulled on the light-action crappie rod. But soon the net was under the fish.
Plank immediately pulled out his scale and weighed the bass. The scale pegged at 8 1/2 pounds.
His buddy didn't believe him, so he pulled his own scale out — same weight.
And apparently the fish was just big boned with nothing to fill out the frame, because a test back at the camp verfied the scales' accuracy.
"I weighed a 10-pound bag of sugar, and it weighed 10 pounds," Plank said.