Back in 2006, Ron Dyes hauled in a Black Lake record bass that tipped the scales at 13.5 pounds, and while the popular lake is known for quality bass, double-digit fish have been few and far between.
But on a hot summer day this July, Quitman’s David Weeks came within a fin and couple of scales of matching Dyes’ catch when he hauled in a behemoth bass on Black Lake that tipped the scales at 13.1 pounds.
Weeks, who had been recently introduced to tournament fishing by his cousin, Mark Woods, found himself having to fish the Saline Watermelon Festival Big Bass Blast without his partner because Woods had already committed to another tournament that day.
The Big Bass Blast allowed tournament participants to fish any one of five lakes during the one-day tournament: Black Lake, Grand Bayou, Mill Creek, Caney or Red River (pools 3 and 4) with weigh-in back in Saline that afternoon.
After scouting Black Lake with Woods, Weeks settled on fishing there. In particular, they had found a portion of the lake where a sizable school of bass was hanging out. But when he got there that morning, he found that a drawdown started a few days earlier had left his targeted area practically void of water.
So he headed up the lake to an area he had noted earlier as a spot that looked particularly “fishy.”
“I made my way over to a group of trees I had spotted earlier and one in particular stood out to me more than the others,” Weeks said. “The current had water lilies piled onto one side and on the other side, and I could see how a root ball made sort of a cave-like entrance just below the surface — the perfect ambush spot for a big bass.
“It had everything: Current, oxygen-rich water, cover with the lilies and a very unique hiding place.”
Armed with a stiff 6-foot, 6-inch rod, 20-pound test P-Line and a jig Weeks had built himself, he made a perfect flip and the jig slid right into the cave-like entrance.
“Almost immediately, I felt a fish suck up my jig. I reeled in my slack and felt the fish as she swam out of the cave,” Weeks said.
He first thought he had a solid 4-pounder on the line, then he decided it had to weigh at least 6 pounds. As it stirred up the mud, Weeks felt he had a hefty 8-pounder, and finally he just knew he was reeling in a 10-pounder.
“I got her to where I could see where she came up to the top of the water and I could finally see just how big she was and said to myself, ‘There’s no telling how big this fish is,’” Weeks said.
After a struggle and several failed attempts at landing the fish, he was finally able to get the big bass in the net. He settled his nerves a bit, weighed the fish on his scale and was dumbfounded when the dial read 12-5.
“By then I was shaking so bad I could hardly breathe. I sat down in the bottom of the boat and made sure I thanked the good Lord for helping me land that fish,” Weeks said.
Making it to the weigh-in before the deadline, the official tournament weight for the fish was 13-1. Weeks also had caught one other fish in the 4-pound range earlier in the day, and coupled with his monster fish, he won second place with a combined weight of 16.98 pounds.
He also easily won the tourney’s Big Bass award for the lunker, which measured 28 ½ inches long with a girth of 21 ¼ inches.
“The Black Lake Giant was definitely the highlight of my last couple of years since I got back into bass fishing, but there are a couple of other things that turned out pretty cool too,” Weeks said. “I have gained so much knowledge of the sport and my thanks go to the many hours my cousin Mark spent teaching me everything he knows.
“Lastly, I have found another hobby I enjoy that goes along with bass fishing and that is hand-making my own bass jigs. After two years of hard work designing and improving on them, I finally decided that come the first of 2015, I plan to fully launch a small business called Red Beard Jigs, LLC.”