It’s March Madness time with the NCAA basketball tournament, and the same can be said for bass fishermen lucky enough to find themselves at Toledo Bend during this month’s spawn.
The action has been fast and furious, seemingly with at least one 10-pounder caught from the reservoir almost every day.
Here’s a rundown of the newest members of the Lunker Club:
Shane Johnson lands 10.74 pounder, enjoys best day ever
New Iberia’s Shane Johnson had a hint of what was to come a week before he caught his largest bass ever.
The 42-year-old fishing guide with Acadian Outdoor Charters was bass fishing with clients when they hooked some really good fish at Toledo Bend.
“There was a 7-pounder, a 6 and a 5 taken on Senkos and crankbaits that day,” he said.
A week later, on Thursday, March 19, Johnson found himself in the same area only to find the water about 2 feet higher.
“The fish just weren’t there,” he said.
So the angler ventured shallower not far from some buck brush nearby.
“Bass were moving and busting up some shad in the area,” he said. “And it was happening during a major feeding period.”
Johnson started working a Senko on 17-pound Berkley 100% Fluorocarbon with a 1/8-ounce pegged Bullet weight. His line was spooled onto a Shimano Curado reel on a 6-foot, 6-inch medium action Falcon rod.
He was flipping the Senko in 6 feet of water when the line suddenly stopped sinking.
“I picked up the slack and sank that hook in the fish,” he said.
But the bass kept going as it swam out of the buck brush heading to his left.
“It wraps around some buck brush, hangs up and then turns to run back the same way it came,” he said.
Once the fish was in open water, Johnson was able to work the bass to the boat and he lipped her in.
“She was 10 pounds, 12 ounces on my scale,” he said.
Johnson ran back to the launch, trailered his boat and made the drive to Toledo Town and Tackle, where the big bass officially weighed 10.74 pounds on certified scales.
Since Johnson’s bass weighed in the double-digits and was tagged and later released, it qualified as lunker No. 45 for the 2014-15 Toledo Bend Lunker Bass Program season, and he will be receiving a free replica of the fish later this spring.
But his magical day didn’t end there: Johnson immediately headed back to the same location near the buck brush.
“On my third flip, I brought a bass weighing 9 pounds, 1 ounce to the boat,” he said. “And farther down in another section, I caught one weighing 6 pounds, 14 ounces.”
Johnson managed a few more keepers after calling it a day.
“It was my best day ever fishing bass,” he said.
Joe Broussard’s catches 10.98-pounder in Negreet
Joe Broussard Jr. of Lake Charles and Hammond’s Henry Bates have been fishing Toledo Bend together since 1993.
“I have hooked big bass before, but never one like this,” Broussard said, sharing the story of a bunker he caught on Friday morning, March 20 in Negreet.
Broussard was throwing a watermelon-red, 5-inch Senko on 15-pound Seaguar fluorocarbon spooled onto a Shimano Chronarch reel atop a heavy Duckett rod.
“One hit early and I missed it,” Broussard said. “Henry was using a lizard and another one snapped off its tail.”
The angler then set the hook on a bass that almost took the rod out of his hands.
“I noticed my line taking off at what seemed like 90 mph,” he said.
Broussard kept his rod tip in the water to make sure the fish stayed submerged during the fight.
“When the bass did come up, I heard Henry say, ‘Holy smoke, that’s the biggest bass I have ever seen.’”
Bates ended up landing the huge bass, which almost didn’t fit in their net.
“It seemed like forever as she made three good runs,” the angler said.
Broussard let Bates work the trolling motor as he admired his big fish.
“I figured 8 or 9 pounds when I first looked at her,” he said. “I called my wife and told her about the big fish.”
The anglers kept fishing with the lunker rested comfortably in the livewell. Together they caught eight more bass ranging to almost 4 ½ pounds along a 100-yard stretch of shoreline.
They eventually ended up at Buckeye Landing and got an official weight on Broussard’s fish.
“When Cindy at Buckeye told me the bass weighed 10.98 pounds, I got nervous and started shaking,” Broussard said.
Broussard’s big bass ever turned out to be lunker No. 47 entered into the Toledo Bend Lunker Bass Program for 2014-15, and he’ll receive a replica courtesy of the Toledo Bend Lake Association later this spring.
Bobby McCullin snares 10.13-pounder in Paulo Gaucho
Farmerville residents Bobby McCullin and Steve Dana were just enjoying some time fishing together Monday, March 16, on Toledo Bend. They were on the water at 3 p.m. and fishing Paulo Gaucho.
“I knew about the possibility of a big fish, although no one knows when it will happen,” the 67-year-old angler said.
McCullin was casting a white/green double-willow leaf spinnerbait on 14-pound Trilene. The rest of his tackle included a Pflueger baitcasting reel on a St. Croix rod.
Having taken a 2-pounder earlier, McCullin cast the spinnerbait in 3 feet of water near the shoreline.
It came to an abrupt halt, and McCullin figured he was stuck on something because he was fishing in an area with structure.
“Then my line started running in front of the boat,” he said. “I set the hook and the fish just set there a second or two and then started moving again.”
According to the angler, the bass made three different runs away from the boat.
“She never did jump and I didn’t get to see her until Steve netted the fish,” he said.
On the deck, McCullin took some time to admire the giant fish.
“We were hoping it would weigh 10 pounds,” he said.
On a handheld digital scale on board, the bass weighed 10.3 pounds.
The anglers then quickly ran back to the launch and trailered the boat. to head to Toledo Town and Tackle, where McCullin’s bass officially weighed 10.13 pounds.
It qualified easily as lunker No. 41 in the Toledo Bend Lunker Bass Program for 2014-15, and McCullin will receive a complimentary mount later this spring because the fish was tagged and released back into Toledo Bend waters.