With all the trouble Ray Dees had getting to the boat launch at Lake Dauterive Saturday afternoon, it’s a wonder he was in the right frame of mind to even go fishing at all.

First, he forgot his life jacket when he was ready to put the boat in, and had to return to his house about 15 minutes away to pick it up. 

Then he realized he had also forgotten his fish finder while he was on his way back to the landing, and turned around to get that, as well.

On his third trip back to the landing, he remembered his boat seat, and returned to his house one more time to grab that, too. 

But it’s a good thing he did — the New Iberia angler left his frustrations at the dock and reeled in a 9-pound largemouth bass about 6:15 that evening in the Texaco Field at Lake Dauterive.

“My dad got remarried in New Orleans on Saturday, and we went to the ceremony, and my wife and I rushed back so I could get in some fishing time,” said Dees, who works as a mechanical engineer for Altec, Inc. in Broussard. 

“I was upset with the old man for wanting to do a ceremony on the full moon of March,” he said with a laugh. “I was just itching to get back and he knew it, so he made it short and sweet for me.”

After finally launching his boat, Dees quickly made his way to the Texaco Field and headed for a canal where he had broken off on a big fish four days earlier. 

“It got up to the surface and it made a swell, and it looked like it was a 2-foot long fish, which is pretty unusual,” Dees said. “That’s the whole reason I went back out there even though I didn’t have long to fish, was to go hit that same spot.”

Dees was pounding the banks for the spawn in about 3 ½-feet of water with a Zoom red shad lizard with a bullet weight pegged about 18 inches in front of the lure on 12-pound Berkley Trilene Big Game mono. He was using an H2O Xpress Ethos rod and an Abu Garcia Black Max reel.

He flipped to about the same spot he had targeted Wednesday and broke off again, so he kept moving and caught several more fish before coming back to the area and loosening his drag.

But this time his line held.

“As soon as she hit the bait, she took off for the deep water. So I followed it with the trolling motor and set the hook once it was in the middle of the canal,” he said. “Once I did that, she turned around and shot to the bank. She got underneath a live tree there, and then it was back-and-forth, back-and-forth.”

The bass ended up flopping over a couple of limbs as Dees twice tried to net her and failed both times.

“Finally, I reached in there with my hand and grabbed the line and I pulled her to me and was able to get the net on her,” he said. “Then I just cut my line because I was all wrapped up in the tree.”

Looking back on the battle, he’s still surprised the big bass actually ended up in the boat.

“I should have never landed her to be quite honest with you,” he said. “Ten times out of ten I would have bet you I would have never landed her with all that went on, with getting wrapped up and everything.”

Once he got her on board and put her in the livewell, he finally had a second to relax.

“It was one of those deals where you just sit there and you’re in awe,” Dees said. “It was a sigh of relief, to say the least.”

The big bass weighed 8 pounds, 14 ounces, 9 pounds and 9 pounds, 2 ounces on three different scales, but she had already laid her eggs. She measured 23 ¼ inches long, he said.

“She’s slender,” Dees said. “If she had been full of eggs, I don’t know what she would have weighed.”

The big bass caps off a strong hunting season for Dees and his wife, Ericka. He took a 14-point mule deer in Kansas, she took a turkey in Kansas and they each shot an 8-point buck at his hunting lease in North Louisiana.

“Needless to say, it’s been an expensive year at the taxidermist, but a good year,” he said.