Ryan Melancon was supposed to be fishing out of his dad's bass boat Saturday (Feb. 24), but the outboard wouldn't start.
So they punted and switched to the younger Melancon's old 15-foot aluminum, then headed into a small cove in Toledo Bend's Housen Bay.
And they ended up being pulled around by a 10.41-pound bass.
Melancon said the wind was howling when they worked their way back into the little area, straining the 40-pound trolling motor for all it was worth.
And then on his first cast with a reel spooled with old line, Ryan Melancon lost control of it.
"It was awful," Melancon laughed. "It was the worst backlash I've ever had."
After fighting the knotted line, the Moss Bluff angler threw the rod down in disgust — and picked up a rig he used last year while night-fishing on the huge reservoir.
"It was all dusty, man," Melancon admitted. "It had lint and stuff in it."
But it was rigged up with a Zoom Ol' Monster 10 1/2-inch worm, so he decided to give it a whirl.
"On my third cast, I got a bite," Melancon said. "I missed that fish, but at least I knew they could see it."
As he struggled to keep the boat under control in the wind, he told his dad he didn't like going all the way back into the cove.
"i told him that I never catch any fish after a certain point," Melancon said.
As they approached a small point, the angler had the boat just off the bank in 8 to 10 feet of water near a ditch that fell off into 15- to 20-foot depths.
"I had just told (his dad), 'You never know where that 10-pounder will be,'" Melancon said.
On the cast after making that statement, Melancon's magnum worm slipped right down the little point and started moving away from the bank.
"I kind of reeled up and saw my string moving out," Melancon said. "I set the hook, and it started dragging that little boat around the cove."
He knew the fish on the end of the line had some size, but he really wasn't certain what it was.
"I thought it was one of those big catfish," Melancon said. "It started stripping drag and dragging the boat around.
"I was thinking 5 or 6 pounds, if it was a bass."
When he caught a flash of it, he knew it was a bass — and his estimate went to "at least 6 pounds."
And then he got a better look.
"It came to the top and I saw the side of its head, and I said it was at least 8," Melancon said.
He looked back at his father, and the man was bug-eyed.
"He said, 'That's a big fish,'" Melancon explained. "I told him to get the net."
Which, of course, was tangled with the rods in the bottom of the little boat.
"He finally broke it free," Melancon said with a chuckle.
The timing was good, since the fish was at the side of the boat — but the net man missed the shot.
"The fish went back down the side of the boat and started stripping more drag," Melancon said.
When the angler wrestled the fish back under control, the fight was over and the elder Melancon dragged the fish into the boat.
"He said he didn't think he had a scale," Ryan Melancon said.
So the younger Melancon dug around and found an old spring scale, which pegged out just north of 10 pounds.
"That's when the high-fives started," Melancon said.
But, true to this trip, the boat didn't have a livewell. So they improvised.
"We threw it in the ice chest and I said, 'We have to go now,'" Melancon said.
However, the little outboard struggled to run.
Fortunately, when the pair reached Fin and Feather Resort, the bass was still pretty lively. They placed it in the marina's livewell, and it soon perked up.
"It was pure luck," Melancon said of the catch. "I was in the right place at the right time."