Sometimes when you least expect it, amazing things can happen.

That’s the kind of day Gene LaTour had last Wednesday with his buddy Tim Pardue of Nashville, who was experiencing Toledo Bend for the very first time. 

“Tim was asking me if there were big bass here since the lake was new to him,” said LaTour, of Ville Platte. “Pardue had been to Mexico’s Lake Guerrero and was attempting to see if Toledo Bend was anything like it.

“I just said there were some good fish coming out from the lake, and I told him about the Lunker Bass Program.”

The anglers launched from the Shadows Landing Resort at 3 that afternoon.

“We pulled up to the Indian Mounds in an area that had grass,” LaTour said. “We were also pre-fishing for the 23rd Annual ‘Ai-yi-yi Tournament’ conducted by David “Mockingbird” Vidrine, a physical therapist from Ville Platte. There were 18 boats registered in the tournament.”

LaTour started out by flipping a black/blue jig in the grass, as Pardue cast a red crankbait.

The anglers were fishing in 6 feet of water with grass patches on the bottom.

On his very first cast, Pardue caught a 3 ½-pounder.

“And about his fifth cast, Tim catches one that weighed 4 pounds,” LaTour said. “By that time, Pardue was thinking the world of me for putting him on these fish.”

LaTour switched things up and decided to go with his 7-foot, 3-inch micro guide Carrot Stix rod with a Strike King Shadalicious Shad tied to 15-pound P-line. His was using a Curado 200e7 reel.

“I was dragging the bait on the bottom and reeling it slow,” he said.

That’s when LaTour’s swimbait got smashed with two violent jerks.

“She like to pull that rod out of my hands,” he said. “The fish put up a heckuva fight. She pulled drag and came up on top twice.

“When I saw her come up, I was thinking 6 or 7 pounds.”

LaTour remembers Pardue asking where to find the net - but he didn’t have a good answer.

“I didn’t know,” LaTour said. “I had to borrow another friend’s fishing boat for this tournament.

“The fish was steady pulling drag and Tim squatted down like a baseball catcher on the deck ready to lip the big bass in the boat.”

The fish got under the boat as LaTour attempted to gain line on his reel.

“She comes back and then jumps directly up right near the boat, and Tim just instantly grabs her,” he said.

When LaTour saw the huge fish on the deck, an onboard celebration including lots of hollering and yelling began.

“I didn’t even want to believe she was that big,” LaTour said.

Anglers in another boat heard the celebration and motored over to see LaTour’s fish.

“We asked them if they had a scale aboard we could use and they did,” he said.

On that handheld scale, LaTour’s big bass weighed 11.26 pounds.

They decided to head to Toledo Town and Tackle to get the fish weighed for possible entry into the Toledo Lunker Bass Program, and things got interesting when they stopped to get gas on the way.

When they peeked into the livewell to check on the lunker, they found only about 2 inches of water inside because of an apparent seal problem.

“Fortunately the store sold shiners and we were able to haul buckets of oxygenated water from the tank to the livewell for the bass,” LaTour said.

The anglers arrived at T-Town at 7:20, but the big bass made the trip in fine shape, and was even aggressive in their holding tank.

LaTour’s bass, which had an old gash and some red sores on its side, tipped the scales officially at 11.36 pounds, and was tagged and released back into Toledo Bend waters. 

Since the bass weighed at least 10 pounds and was tagged and released, LaTour will receive a replica of the trophy courtesy of the Toledo Bend Lake Association this May.

LaTour’s bass was lunker No. 35 for the Toledo Bend Lunker Bass Program this season.