William “Bill” Whitsitt and his uncle expected to catch some bass when they launched about 9:30 a.m. Thursday, but they didn’t have a clue the trip would produce Whitsitt’s best fish to date — a hawg that weighed nearly 12 1/2 pounds.

The anglers made the short trip to nearby Housen Bay, knowing from experience there would be bass ready to cooperate. 

Fishing grass flats in just 4 feet of water, the 66-year-old Whitsitt immediately caught a 2 ½-pounder on a Texas-rigged, Zoom june bug lizard.

The 66-year-old Hemphill angler was throwing the lizard on 50-pound braid spooled onto an Abu Garcia Revo STX reel sitting atop a Carrot Stick Gold rod

“I rigged up another lizard and cast by a stump and let the bait fall,” Whitsitt said.“I then picked up the slack in the line and felt a fish.

“And it was heavy.”

When the bass began moving, the angler set the hook. And he then realized he didn’t have a net aboard his boat.

“It was really a short fight,” the angler said. “In about two minutes, my uncle had her lipped and into the boat.”

With the fish safely aboard, Whitsitt and his uncle knew it would go more than 10 pounds.

A handheld scale read 11.10 pounds — a mark far removed from what it would officially weigh later. But based on that weight, the anglers decided to get the fish officially weighed as soon as possible.

“When we got home, I put water and an aerator into an ice chest to keep her alive on our drive to Toledo Town,” he said.

The official weight settled at 12.47 pounds. The bass was 27 inches long 19 7/8 inches around.

Once inside the tank at Toledo Tackle, the huge bass started listing on its side. So the staff applied weights and rehabilitated the bass until it eventually righted itself for an extended period.

When it was later released alive, Whitsitt became eligible to receive a free replica of his lunker from the Toledo Bend Lake Association. The TBLA awards angler free replicas for catching Toledo Bend largemouth officially weighing 10 pounds or better and allowing them to be tagged and released alive.

Whitsitt’s bass is the 23rd of the current Toledo Bend Lunker Bass Program season (May 2014 through May 2015), and easily bested his previous personal record.

“It is my largest Toledo Bend bass so far,” Whitsitt said. “I have taken a 10.11-pounder and several 9s and 8s. And my brother caught an 11.7-pounder here.”

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