David Cross was fishing in a bass club tournament Saturday morning at Toledo Bend, but the bite was tough.

He and his partner, William Spurgeon, had launched at the Indian Mounds around 6:30, but decided to head further south around 10 to try spots near the Louisiana Islands near the dam.

“We caught a few fish there pre-fishing the day before,” he said. “No size, but we knew there were fish on that stretch.”

The new location paid off when the first fish of the morning hit the deck - with a resounding thud.

“I was trying a bunch of different retrieves, fast and slow,” said Cross, 35, of Deville. “That particular cast I just started slowing it down as slow as I could handle it. I felt her hit it and I set the hook and she was rolling pretty good. I thought I felt a head shake or two.”

The anglers were fishing a grassline, with the boat positioned in about 30 feet of water casting up to about 8 to 9 feet, when the big bass hit the Keitech swimbait in sight flash, or white.

Cross was using a 7 1/2-foot medium-heavy Duckett rod with a Lew’s BB2 reel spooled with 20-pound Seaguar AbrazX fluorocarbon. Water temperature was a chilly 48 degrees.

“I knew she was good, but we didn’t realize she was 10 pounds until we got her on the deck in the net,” Cross said. “When she laid on her side and we looked at her, she was so fat, with a huge belly.

“She wasn’t really that big of a fish, just very, very, very healthy.”

And Cross did his best to keep it that way - they kept the lunker by itself in the livewell with a little Rejuvenade, and then left early for the tournament weigh-in so they could take it slow and not jostle the fish in the boat. 

“One thing we did not want to do was stress her out and let her die,” he said.

But the big fish easily made the weigh-in, and was in fine shape when Cross arrived at Toledo Town & Tackle to weigh the bass on official scales for potential inclusion in the Toledo Bend Lunker Bass Program, which awards anglers who catch and release 10-pound-plus fish with a free replica if they agree to release the fish back into Toledo Bend waters.

The bass tipped the scales at 10.25 pounds, good enough for the Lunker Program, and also good enough for a 2nd place tournament finish plus big bass honors for Cross. (Spuregeon actually won the club tournament with three fish totaling more than 13 pounds, good enough to edge his partner by about  half a pound.)

“I think she had been gorging, and she was starting to get some eggs in her,” Cross said, noting he saw a shad tail sticking out of the bass’ mouth when she hit the deck. “It had to be a little of both, considering how fat she was.”