On Saturday, West Monroe’s Ray Albritton really did get by with a little help from a friend.
The 41-year-old angler was fishing with hometown buddy Mark Corbin during the 2014 Sealy Outdoors Big Bass Splash at Toledo Bend.
“I’ve only fished there twice in 2009 and 2010 during the Big Bass Splash, but Mark fishes Toledo Bend twice a year,” Albritton said.
At 6 in the morning, the anglers launched into the Indian Mounds area in their own bass boats.
“We headed down and started fishing at the mouth of Six Mile Creek,” he said. “Most of the day, we worked underwater grass humps and ledges from 6- to 16-feet deep. We caught 12 bass in the morning, and Mark caught most of them. I only caught two before catching the big one.”
Albritton caught his first two bass on Carolina-rigged Strike King Rage Tail lizards.
At 11:30, both anglers arrived at Housen Bay, and Albritton caught his second bass by noon.
He decided to change things up and switched to a Zoom watermelon-seed baby Brush Hog.
Albritton was fishing with a 7-foot 3-inch G. Loomis rod and a Curado 200 E7 reel spooled with 50-pound PowerPro braid and a 20-pound Sunline Reaction Strike fluorocarbon leader.
“The winds were blowing 15 mph, and the waves were us rocking pretty hard by then,” Albritton said.
The angler was fishing the edge of a grassline in 16 feet of water pulling his Carolina-rigged Brush Hog through the submerged vegetation at about 12:45 p.m.
“At first I assumed I was hung up on the grass, so I pulled – and my line pulled back,” Albritton said.
The angler then cranked down quickly and set the hook.
“I got a peek at her when she came up a foot below the surface after being hooked,” he said. “I saw her mouth and then yelled to Mark that I had a pig. He came closer and saw me holding the rod steady and the fish steadily pulling drag.”
After the bass made three dives, Albritton worked to get his net from behind the console.
“I finally got it and placed it on the front deck while the fish was still taking drag,” he said. “I saw my sinker coming out of the water so I knew the bass was coming up again.
“I reached for my net, but it was tangled in the rods. Just after I got it untangled, the fish came up on its side.”
Albritton quickly dipped his net into the water and scooped up his catch.
“She weighed 11 pounds, 1 ounce on my scale,” he said. “When I saw it was 11 pounds, I commenced to yelling so loud that probably everyone fishing in Housen could hear me.”
Albritton placed the huge fish in the livewell and applied Please Release Me, a rejuvenating liquid.
He got directions to the official weigh-in site at Cypress Bend Marina. But on the way, the angler had to stop three more times to get pointed in the right direction to the scales.
“Bob Sealy even came over because he had heard a big one was coming in,” Albritton said.
On the official scales, Albritton’s lunker weighed 11.03 pounds and measured 27 ¾ inches long with a 19 ½-inch girth.
At the end of the tournament, Albritton was named as the overall winner, and took home a 2014 Dodge Ram Quad Cab with a 5.7 Hemi, a 2014 Triton 20SX with a Mercury 200 Pro XS motor with Minnkota Fortrex trolling motor, Lowrance electronics, a shallow water Powerpole and Hydrowave and a $7,000 check.
Plus, he’ll also get a free replica of the 11-pounder.
Not a bad day’s work - with a little help from a friend.
“If it wasn’t for my good buddy Mark, I would not have been in that spot on that day,” Albritton said.