You don’t leave the landing everyday expecting to snare the bass of a lifetime, so you can forgive Brent Kegley for not being totally prepared for what he was about to experience last Friday at Toledo Bend. 

“I didn’t even have the net out on the boat when it happened,” he said.

The Westlake angler was pre-fishing for an upcoming tournament on a very cold morning on the Bend, with temperatures starting out in the upper-20s.

“It was sunny at first, but then it turned cloudy with winds pushing over 10 mph,” he said.“I started out fishing in Indian Creek, but it was really slow there.”

As a result, Kegley motored to the Mill Creek area in hopes he would find a few fish.

“Still nothing,” he said.

Eventually, he decided on Housen to fish locations he knew held bass in the winter.

He approached an area with patches of grass and started casting a Carolina-rigged Zoom watermelon fluke in 15 feet of water. 

The lure was tied to a 15-pound mono leader on 17-pound Seaguar fluorocarbon, with a Shimano Citica reel and an All Star rod.

“I finally caught one — a 15-incher,” Kegley said.

About 10 minutes later, just before noon, Kegley felt another bite. 

“I felt the surge, but the fish I caught before did the same thing and hung me up a little,” he said.

But when this fish surged a few more times, Kegley knew he had hooked a big one.

“At first she came to the surface, but all I could see was something kind of white,” he said. “It was the second time when she came up I saw just how big she was. 

“I knew immediately she had to be over 10, and I said, ‘Oh my God!’”

Kegley said the fish made two initial runs to the boat, and went under him the second time. 

“Finally on a third surge, I was able to bring her to the boat where I could lip her,” he said.

The angler weighed her on his handheld digital scale, and the display ranged from 12.5 to 12.8 pounds.

“I filled the livewell and placed her in,” he said. “I called my dad first, and then a friend.”

He headed straight to Toledo Town and Tackle to get the big fish weighed on certified scales. 

At T-Town, Kegley’s largemouth weighed an amazing 12.61 pounds. The huge bass remained healthy, and was tagged and later released back into Toledo Bend waters.

Because the fish easily qualified for the Toledo Bend Lunker Bass Program, Kegley will receive a free replica mount courtesy of the Toledo Bend Lake Association. 

According to Dinah Medine, Kegley’s lunker is No. 15 entered into the program for the 2014-15 season, which ends next May. 

As of last week, two additional lunkers had been entered into the program compared to figures at the same time last year, Medine said.