On the evening of July 25, Tommy Bolton and Brian Gore were settling in to fish some choice locations in the Housen Bay area of Toledo Bend.

For a good while that night, the duo couldn’t get a single fish to the livewell.

“We couldn’t find any fish or even schools of bait on the graph,” said Bolton, of Leesville. 

A little while later, Gore finally snared one small keeper, and they were about to move on in search of better fishing.

Bolton decided to switch lures and put a plum apple Zoom Mag II under a ½-ounce Strike King tungsten slip sinker with a glass bead and a brass ticker. He was fishing with an Abu Garcia Veritas Micro-Guide rod fitted with 40-pound PowerPro braid spooled onto a Quantum Accurist PT 100. 

“It was about 11:00 p.m. and I cast into 25-feet of water,” the angler said. “A fish hit, and I set the hook.”

Bolton made three turns on his reel, and the fish responded aggressively.

“She headed for deep water and the line was ripping off my reel,” he said. “I was able to slow it down with my thumb and then turn the fish to bring her up to the edge of the boat.”

That was when both men  got their first view of the huge fish.

“Brian got real nervous, and the bass dove again,” he said. “She ripped the spool out again, and I was able to thumb-break here for the second time. I almost had her back to the boat when all of a sudden she headed for the depths a third time.”

Bolton eventually was able to get the bass back to the front of the boat in shallow water. 

“She broke surface 6 yards from the boat,” he said. “I pulled back on the rod hard enough to speed-spool her back.”

It took Gore two attempts, but he eventually netted the big fish.

“We tried to fish while I called several people who may have had access to a scale,” Bolton said. “We kept her in the livewell while I checked on her every few minutes.”

They couldn’t find any fish actively feeding, so by 4 a.m. they made their way back to the landing and headed to Pirate’s Cove. 

“The cook happened to be there early and called Mr. Joe, who came to the store to open up for us,” Bolton said. “We then got the fish into his well-oxygenated holding tank. 

“I liked to fall apart when the scale read 12.48 pounds,” he said.

According to Dinah Medine of the Toledo Bend Lake Association, Bolton’s 12-pounder is one of three over 10 pounds recently taken at night.

The other two include a 10.71-pounder taken on July 20 by Shannon Sarver of Branch, as well as a 10.57-pounder taken on July 19 by John Fontenot of Ville Platte.

All three bass were entered into the Toledo Bend Lunker Bass Program, which offers free replicas to anglers catching double-digit bass if they allow the fish to be released.