Make no mistake about it, DeRidder’s Kevin Slaydon was definitely feeling the heat to catch at least a 10-pound bass on Toledo Bend.
His two hometown fishing buddies, Greg Crain and Joey Storozyszn, had already scored on double-digit Toledo Bend lunkers, and Slaydon definitely wanted to join the club.
But when he and Storozyszn launched at the State Park 7 site on the Texas side at 7 p.m. July 12, they were just hoping to place in the Sportsman’s Bass Club of Southwest Louisiana’s night-fishing tournament.
“We started fishing at 7:15 on the Louisiana side by South Toledo Bend State Park,” Slaydon said.
The anglers were targeting a series of humps, and Slaydon started out by casting a large plastic worm in 25 feet of water.
After a few hours, they had bass in the boat’s livewell.
“I felt uncomfortable with the lure, so I told Joey that I was going to throw something I felt more confident with,” Slaydon said, settling on a Carolina-rigged, black-ruby, Zoom Baby Brush Hog.
He remembers fishing five different locations before arriving at one particular hump.
“We had spent about 30 minutes at this spot, and it was 3:05 a.m.,” he said. “Joey caught a good fish there and we had to cull one.
“I cast out as far as I could and let the lure settle on the bottom. When I tightened up, I felt a thump and then told Joey to move back and sit down in the front of the boat so I could set the hook.”
When Slaydon reared back and pulled, the hawg came straight up and vaulted out of the water.
“I couldn’t see how big he was because it was dark,” he said. “He just kept stripping line.
“I told Joey to get the net because I thought I had a fish weighing 7 or 8 pounds.”
The bass then made another couple of runs under the boat before tiring out, and Storozyszn was able to net her.
“When looking at the fish on the deck of the boat, I said that it would definitely go over 10 pounds,” Slaydon said. “Joey took a picture of the fish and we placed it into the livewell.”
The bass weighed 11.1 pounds on his handheld digital scale, and the anglers spent the rest of the night fishing and caring for the big bass.
They were able to obtain an early weigh-in at the tournament scales by 6:30 a.m., and placed fifth out of 71 boats with five-bass stringer weighing 23.66 pounds.
The men headed to Toledo Town and Tackle to register the fish with the Toledo Bend Lunker Bass Program, which awards anglers catching 10-pound-plus bass a free replica if they agree to have the fish tagged and released back into Toledo Bend waters.
On the T-Town scales, the big fish weighed-in officially at 11.29 pounds, becoming the fifth bass for the Lunker Program’s 2014-15 season.
Slaydon caught the lunker on 20-pound Berkley Big Game monofilament with a 12-pound Seaguar fluorocarbon leader on a Lew’s reel secured to a 7-foot heavy Halo rod.