After reading so many Internet stories about 10-pound-plus bass at Toledo Bend, Tyler Casteel made the long drive to Pirate’s Cove Marina last Friday to get in on the action himself. 

The 23-year-old Sulphur angler got on the water about 7:30 a.m. in heavy fog with the temperature at 31 degrees, and carefully motored to the Housen area.

His bait of choice was a red Xcalibur lipless crankbait that he decided to throw onto the area’s expansive grass flats near pockets of deeper water. 

He was using 12-pound Seaguar fluorocarbon spooled on a Lew’s reel with a spinnerbait/worm Skeet Reese rod.

“I was drifting, letting the wind push me while making long casts,” Casteel said. “At first, I didn’t have any bites.”

But at about 10:15, Casteel made a cast and thought his lure had gotten snagged. 

“For the first 2- to 3-seconds, I thought it was grass,” he said. “Then the fish moved and began to fight.”

Realizing it was a big fish, the angler used his free hand to dig into his rod box for a net.

“When I turned around, the bass was already laying on its side near the boat,” he said. “I was freaking out, and at the same time my father was calling me on my cell.”

Casteel took a couple of photos of the huge bass, placed her in the livewell and then texted a picture of the beauty to his dad. 

“I went to Fin & Feather first to weigh it,” he said. “The scale there recorded 10.3 pounds.

“Then I went straight back to Pirate’s Cove and trailered the boat. I wanted to get to Toledo Town and Tackle to weigh her for the program.”

The scales at T-Town made it official at 10.19 pounds, making Casteel’s new personal best eligible for entry into the Toledo Bend Lake Association’s Lunker Program, which awards anglers who catch 10-pound-plus bass a free replica if they agree to release the fish back into Toledo Bend waters.

TBLA records show that Casteel’s bass is the 36th lunker entered into the program since last June.