It began six or seven years ago when guys attending a Sunday School class at Cook Baptist Church in Ruston mapped out plans for a fishing trip to Caney Lake, a trip that has become an annual event and has expanded to include friends.
Adam McGuirt, associate athletic director for internal operations at Louisiana Tech, invited his father Mike McGuirt for this year’s event.
They rented a lodge at Jimmie Davis State Park, and planned to fish March 6-8.
A cold front had moved into the area that week, and mornings were blanketed with heavy fog March 6-7, conditions that would likely hamper fishing.
That Saturday morning, however, McGuirt and his dad were fishing together when the younger McGuirt set the hook on what turned out to be the largest bass, by far, he has ever caught — a fish that pushed the scales to more than 11 1/2 pounds.
“My brother-in-law, Dustin St. Andre, had caught some bass Friday afternoon when the weather warmed, and he caught them on a wacky worm using a Flick Shake weighted head with a weed guard,” McGuirt said. “Saturday morning, we motored into Boggy Creek and I tied one on like Dustin used to give it a try.”
The bass were not on the beds, as water temperatures were in the high 40s. Realizing this, McGuirt backed off the banks and was fishing a ledge with the Flick Shake head attached to a watermelon pattern trick worm.
“On my third cast, I noticed the rod top felt unusually heavy, so I set the hook,” he explained. “I didn’t want to set it too hard because I was using a medium-action spinning rod and 10-pound-test line. When I set the hook, I saw the line moving toward deeper water, so I knew it was a good fish.
“Since I neglected to bring a net, I told my dad to get to the front of the boat with me to help land it, and I was eventually able to get the bass alongside the boat where dad was able to lip it. He handed the fish to me, I reached in its mouth to remove the hook and saw that it was barely ‘skin’ hooked in the roof of its mouth.”
Snapping a photo with his cell phone, McGuirt forwarded the photo to his fishing partners, who hurried over to get a look at the big fish.
Hand-held scales showed the weight to be between 11.3 and 11.5 pounds.
“I headed to Brown’s Landing to have it officially weighed and measured. The scales read 11.67 pounds, the length was 26 inches with an estimated girth between 18 and 19 inches,” he said.
Once photos and measurements were taken, McGuirt had one more thing he wanted to do and do it quickly; he felt the fish needed to be released.
“It would take too long to transport her back to Boggy, so I eased her into the water at Brown’s, watching her slowly swim away,” McGuirt said. “She was too valuable a fish to keep.”
Caney Lake Marina located at the dam has a program where replicas are presented for trophy bass. However, McGuirt learned that the bass has to be weighed and certified at Caney Lake Marina to qualify.
“I hate it, but it was more important to me to get her back in the water quickly. I have no regrets,” he said. “Getting to fish with friends and having my dad in the boat with me for this memorable event are more valuable to me.”