For most fisherman, dealing with a backlash can be a frustrating, time consuming ordeal that often results in a bird’s nest of line being surgically removed from your reel- all while your buddies are hauling in a steady stream of fish over the gunnels.
Or, in the case of David Houston on Monday, it could be the precursor to catching a true trophy bass of a lifetime, and the new record largemouth at Poverty Point Reservoir State Park in Delhi.
“Actually, I had a minor backlash - a couple of pulls and I got it out,” said Houston, 36, of Winnsboro. “When I actually picked up my line, I felt before I went to move my bait.
“It didn’t feel like I was on the bottom, and I had the weird feeling of not being on the bottom when I knew I should have been. I went ahead and set the hook.”
That set into motion a relatively brief battle that resulted in Houston, who was fishing alone, landing a certified 14.08-pound fish from the lake’s north end.
“When I first saw it surface, I knew it was a 10-pound fish,” he said. “With the girth and everything, that’s what made the difference. It was bigger around than it was long.
“I more or less lifted and kind of bear-hugged it into the boat.”
Houston, the assistant manager at Mac’s Fresh Market in Columbia, was fishing on a nasty, cold day, with air temperatures in the upper 40s and a water temperature of only 42 degrees.
He caught the monster on a Texas-rigged tequila sunrise Yum 10-inch ribbontail worm in about 8 feet of water, and reeled the big bass in with his Shimano Core 50-MG reel spooled with 15-pound Berkley Trilene 100% fluorocarbon. He was casting with a G. Loomis IMX 7-foot-3-inch medium-heavy rod.
“I was just kind of blind casting, fishing around with the trolling motor,” he said. “The fish are very much pre-spawn, nowhere near thinking of spawning. Actually, they’re in what I’d call a wintering phase right now, just more or less in their winter spots.”
Houston quickly placed the giant in his livewell and headed to the marina complex to weigh and record the fish, which measured 23 1/2 inches long with an amazing girth of 24 3/4 inches.
“There really wasn’t much skill involved. That fish was more timing than anything,” Houston said. “But the thing I’m most proud of with that fish is I put it back. There was no thought of keeping that fish.
“That would have been unthinkable for me.”
Watch a cool video of the lunker's release by clcking here.
Houston is a big believer in catch and release, and also supports raising the slot at Poverty Point, which he said has been at 15- to 19-inches for years.
“I fished this lake for many years now, and I’d consider it a mature lake for the fish. This lake should have been producing state records years ago,” he said. “It’s a 15- to 19-inch slot limit, and that’s not a slot limit that should be on a lake of that age.
“From the fish I catch, you could have bigger fish more often on the top end if they’d move it to 17- to 21 or 22. Right now a 4- or 5-pounder is game to be pulled out of that lake at 19 inches, and I just don’t understand their thinking there. You can’t just leave it forever at a certain slot.”
He also believes catch and release is crucial for the development of the relatively small fishery at Poverty Point.
“Every fish counts here - it’s a small lake. It’s not like Toledo Bend where it pumps out 10-pounders left and right. Every single bass that’s kept out of the lake does a tremendous amount of damage,” he said. “I would ask that everybody practice catch and release, and think about that fish they release being a state record later on. So why kill it?
“I hope maybe a couple of years from now I can fool that fish in a different way and maybe it will be state record.”
Houston, who also has three 10-pound-plus fish to his credit, actually headed out and fished a while longer after releasing the record-setting bass early in the afternoon.
“It took a while to calm down and get my mind back because when the water is that cold, you have to real methodical with your fishing,” he said. “You can’t go through just buzzing around.
“You’ve really got to be slow about moving the boat, moving the lure - everything. The fish are slowed down, so you have to slow down as well.”
Louisiana’s record largemouth bass weighed 15.97 pounds, and was caught on Caney Lake in February, 1999 by Greg Wiggins.