On Sunday, Nov. 10, Leesville’s Darold Gleason and his fishing partner, Kevin Jeane of Anacoco, knew they were sitting on the quality bass needed to win a V&M Fall Series tournament on Toledo Bend.
The weekend before, Gleason said he and Jeane were finding bass buried in hydrilla in about 15-feet of water south of Big Bass Marina near Many.
“We had caught five bass on that deep bite that went 20 pounds in just three hours on that weekend,” the 31-year-old angler said.
On the actual day of the tournament, Gleason and Jeane launched at 6:30 a.m. to cold, cloudy and windy weather. The fishing duo bundled up to keep warm, and then motored south to the area they had scouted the weekend before.
“We caught the first bass, a 2½-pounder, at 7:10 a.m.,” he said.
Just 20 minutes later, Gleason pitched out a 1-ounce, V&M Penetrator Jig with a V&M Split-Tail Beaver and let it free-fall to reach the grass, which normally takes about three seconds.
“I felt a little thump on its way down,” he said. “When the bait and the fish actually hit the bottom, I pulled up a little and felt the fish.
“I could tell it was a lot of fish – so I set the hook and immediately knew it was a big one.”
The fish started pulling drag, yet Gleason made short work of the well-hooked bass by horsing him up quickly with a heavy-action flipping rod and 30-pound Berkley Big Game braid.
“My partner had the net ready and he was standing between me and the fish, so I never saw the bass when I got it on top,” the angler said.
Placing the lunker bass on a hand-held scale, the dial reached almost 10 ½ pounds.
Celebrating a little, yet knowing the tournament day was not over, the anglers continued to fish the area.
After a while, Jeane caught a 5-pounder, and two 3-pounders were added to the anglers’ livewell a little later.
“All together, we caught about 12 bass and culled through a few of them,” Gleason said. “We had over 24 pounds of bass in the boat by 10:00 a.m.”
At weigh-in, the pair ended up with five bass totaling 24 ½ pounds, and won both first place in the tournament, as well as Big Bass honors.
“I weighed the fish first at the tournament, “Gleason said. “After the big bass was weighed, they allowed it to be kept in their holding tanks until the weigh-in and awards program were over.”
The angler then placed the lunker back in his livewell to transport the fish to Toledo Town and Tackle in Many to be officially weighed and entered into the Toledo Bend Lunker Bass Program.
Gleason’s Toledo Bend lunker was weighed-in officially at 10.09 pounds.
The Toledo Bend Lunker Bass Program offers a free replica to anglers catching double-digit bass if they allow the fish to be released.
“I knew we were on some quality fish that day and I was confident,” Gleason said. “But I certainly didn’t expect a bass over 10 to be caught while we were fishing that tournament.”
Gleason, also a guide on Toledo Bend, is no stranger to catching hefty bass in these waters.
He has taken a dozen bass over 9 pounds, with two previous entries into the Toledo Bend Lunker Bass Program. Of those entries, his heaviest was an 11.2-pounder taken in 2009, and another 10- pounder caught in 2007.
“I have taken another three other bass over 10 pounds that were not registered over the years because I was practicing for tournaments,” he said. “These were released immediately back into the waters where they were taken.”