The 15- to 19-inch slot limit for bass on Caney Lake was only recently removed, but Jacob Hearne wouldn’t have had to worry about it last week, anyway. 

On Thursday afternoon, March 1, the 31-year-old angler set the hook on a monster bass that measured 27 inches long — and ultimately tipped certified scales at a whopping 12.94 pounds.

“My wife doesn’t fish with me very often but on this day, she decided to go, and I’m glad she was with me when I caught the big one,” Hearne said. “I always tell her when I go that I’m going after a 10-pounder. After seeing the weather last Thursday, I mentioned to her I’d be lucky to catch a 1-pounder.”

It had been raining that afternoon and Hearne maneuvered his boat into a cove where nobody else was fishing. The water was fairly muddy, but at least he had the area to himself. 

“We went into that particular cove to get away from other fishermen because there were quite a few other boats on the lake. I was fishing a Rage Craw in California craw pattern on 14-pound Stren mono line,” he said.

“I cast to a stick-up in 3 feet of water back in the cove and the fish hit immediately. As soon as I set the hook, she came out of the water and I yelled at my wife to get the net — I had hooked a 10-pounder.”

The fish made several runs beneath the boat until Hearne’s wife was finally able to get the bass in the net and get it aboard.

“We headed immediately to Hook’s Marina on the south end of the lake to get her weighed,” he said. “On certified scales, she weighed 12.94 pounds and measured 27 inches in length and a tag was inserted.” 

The marina is involved in a tagging program for bass weighing 10 pounds or more that are to be released.

Hearne then took the fish back to the exact location where he caught it and watched it swim away. Interestingly enough, he said the bass was already spawned out — its abdomen was flat and not distended. 

“If she hadn’t spawned already, I might be looking at a bass weighing over 14 pounds,” he said.

Retired fisheries biologist Mike Wood confirmed that bass, especially big ones, can and do spawn this early in the year. 

“The spawn is going on right now as water temperatures are approaching 60 degrees, and I don’t doubt that Hearne’s fish had already spawned,” Wood said.   

Earlier that same week, Hunter Freeman and Corey Harris weighed-in a 36-pound, five-fish stringer on the 5,000-acre Jackson Parish lake.

Six of Louisiana's Top 10 largemouth bass — all weighing at least 15 pounds — came from Caney, including the No. 1 fish caught by Greg Wiggins in 1994 that tipped the scales at 15.97 pounds.