When Dustin Rivers set his hook Tuesday morning over a treetop near Carrice Creek at Toledo Bend, he knew he had a good fish - but he wasn’t expecting a lunker bass. 

“She hit it hard. She nailed it,” said Rivers, 28, of Noble. “But she stayed on the bottom for almost six minutes. 

“I didn’t have a clue it was a bass until I saw her. I actually thought it was going to be a big catfish or something because usually when you hook a bass they come on up to the top. But she just stayed on the bottom.”

In about five days of fishing this week, that bite was one of just a handful Rivers has gotten - but he made the most of it with a nice 10.16-pound largemouth caught in about 25 feet of water. 

“She finally just came on up and laid on her side right beside the boat,” he said. “I just lipped her. I was by myself.”

Rivers had started out that morning around 9 at the public launch at Carrice Creek, which is on the Texas side south of the Pendelton Bridge. The lunker hit about 11 a.m., his first bite in two days.

“On Sunday, I caught one fishing shallow,” he said. “On Monday I backed out to 10- to 12-feet, and didn’t get a bite. The next day I went out to 25 feet and that’s when I got her to bite.

“It’s been real tough, fishing all day for one or two bites. I don’t think they’re shallow yet. They’re still just staged up in deepwater creeks and channels.”

Rivers caught the lunker on an 8-foot Quantum Gary Klein flipping stick, with a Lew’s Speed Spool reel filled with 17-pound Sufix monofilament.

The big bass bit a 3/4-ounce Santos black-and-blue jig.

“I found the spot last year during the post-spawn after the fish had moved out of the shallows,” Rivers said. “I flipped a jig in there last year and caught a 7-pounder, and thought about the spot hoping another one would be in there on the way to spawn. And she was there.”

When the big bass finally surfaced, Rivers was shocked.

“I couldn’t believe it. I lipped her and put her in the boat and took the jig out, then looked at her real good,” he said. “I’ve seen a bunch of 8s before, and I knew she was every bit of 8, then she didn’t quite want to fit in the livewell. 

“So I said, ‘This fish should be a 10-pounder.’”

His scale was broken, so he made the short 15-minute ride to Toledo Town & Tackle, where the big bass tipped the scaled at 10.16 pounds. 

That was good enough to qualify as the 20th fish of the year for the Toledo Bend Lunker Bass Program, which rewards anglers who return 10-plus pounders back to Toledo Bend waters with a free replica. (The lunker program year begins on June 1.)

Even though the bite is pretty slow, Rivers, who works offshore, has been fishing almost constantly since  he returned from a hitch last week.

“I got home Thursday evening and I started fishing that weekend. I’ve been home a week, and was thinking about fishing the whole time I was at work,” he said with a grin. “I’ve got two more weeks left, then I’ll be gone. Butt I’ll be back for the good spawn.”