If Casey Allen had been fishing a tournament on Caney Lake last Friday, on he and his fishing partner likely would have walked away with a nice prize. Their top five fish weighed 33 pounds — a giant bag anchored by a huge 10.45-pound lunker largemouth.

“My fishing buddy and I decided to go fishing on Friday to get ahead of the weekend crowd that would for sure be out there now that the bass are spawning,” Allen said. We didn’t get to the lake until around noon, with plans to leisurely fish that afternoon.

“We put in at Ebenezer boat ramp and went into one of the coves around mid-lake - I don’t remember which cove it was – and started out looking for beds. We spotted a few but there were no bass on any of the beds we found, so we just decided to kick back and fish.”

About 5 o’clock, they had caught probably 15 bass, with some nice ones in the 5-pound range. That’s when lightning struck for Allen, 33, of Saline.

“I was fishing a 6-inch blue-fleck plastic worm, Texas-rigged, on a 7-foot Hammer rod when I made a cast to a small stick-up,” he said. “About the time I made the cast, a fish rolled near the bank and as I flipped my lure off the stick, I told my partner to cast to where the fish had rolled.

“I decided to reel in for another cast when I noticed my plastic worm wasn’t where it was when I flipped it off the stick-up. I caught up the slack, felt weight and set the hook. The fish began pulling drag on my Abu Garcia reel and my buddy asked if I needed the net,” Allen said. “I thought it was another 5-pounder since the fish never jumped. Then it made a couple of runs and since I was only fishing with 15-pound Seaguar line, I decided maybe I needed the net.”

The big bass was finally brought to the side of the boat and Allen’s buddy netted it and brought it onto the deck.

“I had no idea the fish was this big until I saw it lying there on the deck,” he said. “I told my buddy, ‘I think I have just caught my first 10-pound bass.’”

The big bass was slipped into the live well, stabilizer was added and they took the fish to Hook’s Marina on the south end of the lake.

“The marina formerly had a replica program where they gave replicas for big bass that were released, but I learned this program had been discontinued. No matter, I wasn’t going to keep the fish, but we had her weighed on certified scales there that showed 10.45 pounds,” Allen said. “I took her back where I caught her, released her and watched her swim away in good shape.”

Allen believes that the return of grass to Caney — vegetation that was decimated when grass carp were released into the lake more than a decade ago — is the reason the fishery has improved.

“I’m really glad to see this lake making such a good comeback,” he said. “No doubt, the fact that grass is growing again in Caney Lake is the reason folks are once again catching big bass here.”