On the day after Thanksgiving, Dwight Blanchard was having a ‘Black Friday’ - but he wasn’t doing any bargain shopping at all.
Instead, the Youngsville angler was enduring a tough time getting his fishing day started at Toledo Bend.
“The morning didn’t go well at all,” the 54-year-old bass angler said. “The crank battery didn’t start, so I moved everything over to the troll motor side.”
After making that adjustment, Blanchard motored alone out to a ridge on a southern section of the lake near South Toledo Bend State Park.
In 20 feet of water, he started casting a Zoom watermelon-candy Trick Worm tied to 17-pound Berkley Big Game. This setup was attached to an Abu Garcia Revo reel atop an All Star Worm Rod.
“At my first stop, I had been fishing about 20 minutes,” he said. “I was unprepared and didn’t even have the net out.”
At about 7:15, he got a hit — and Blanchard’s ‘Black Friday’ troubles became a distant memory.
“The fish came up pretty quick and she made a good run close to the boat,” he said. “That’s when I realized it was a good fish.”
A brief battle was on, including a trip under Blanchard’s boat for the big bass.
“I swung her out from under the boat,” he said. “As she made the pass coming out, I reached for her but missed.
“On the second run, I was able to grab her when she came by.”
Blanchard placed her onto the deck and immediately filled the livewell before placing her in the compartment.
“I then re-tied and made about three more casts,” he said.
The angler decided to stop fishing and weigh his huge catch on a hand-held digital scale.
“The scale readings fluctuated from just below10 to a little over 10,” he said.
So he decided to trailer his boat, pick up his wife at the campground and head over to Toledo Town and Tackle to see if the big fish qualified for the Toledo Bend Lunker Bass Program.
But what he found in his livewell when he arrived immediately had him worried.
“I saw 3 inches of water and the fish flat on its side,” he said. “I sent my wife inside Toledo Town to find out where to park to deliver her while I attempted to resuscitate the bass.”
While his wife drove to the store’s back door, Blanchard was moving the bass back and forth in the livewell to put water through its gills.
“She was just barely alive,” he said.
The staff at Toledo Town and Tackle immediately weighed the bass and placed the fish in a holding tank.
“They later put weights on her because she was listing to the side,” he said. “Sometime later, someone came in and removed air from her air bladder.
“I do have to compliment the people at Toledo Town. They worked hard to make sure she stayed alive.”
Later that evening the bass made a full recovery, and was eventually tagged and released back into Toledo Bend waters.
On T-town’s certified scales, Blanchard’s bass weighed 10.05 pounds, so he will receive a replica of the fish courtesy of the Toledo Bend Lake Association next spring.
Blanchard’s bass is entry No. 17 in the Toledo Bend Lunker Bass Program for the 2014-15 season.