Like many other high school seniors across the state, 18-year-old Connor Fontenot of Ville Platte was enjoying spring break Monday.
But instead of spending his time away from school at the beach, he decided to join his hometown friend Landon Fontenot and Landon’s father, Todd, for some bass fishing on Toledo Bend.
The three launched into Housen Bay and fished the flats across the lake from Fin & Feather Resort.
“I caught a bass early, and together we had five keepers up to 3 ½ pounds in the morning,” Connor said.
Shortly after noon, he was casting a watermelon red-green Senko wacky style on mono spooled to a Shimano Citica reel seated on a 6-foot, 6-inch, medium-heavy Duckett rod, a rig he borrowed from Todd Fontenot for the trip.
“We were in 4 feet of water,” he said. “I cast right by a cypress tree near some haygrass when it happened.”
Once the lure was in the water, Landon and Todd both saw a swirl and alerted him to what might be coming.
“I felt a solid hit and then set the hook,” he said. “It felt like I hooked a log, and she didn’t move much at first.
“Once I reeled a foot or more of line into the reel, she just dove. I couldn’t reel anymore, and she was taking drag.”
The fish made a run to the boat and then crossed over into the haygrass.
“I’m glad she did that because I couldn’t stop her,” he said.
The anglers then trolled to the location where the fish was wrapped up in the grass.
“I never saw how big she was until my buddy Landon moved the grass to see her as she came up on her side,” he said. “Landon reached down with both hands to bring her up.
“I just couldn’t believe the size of that fish.”
Landon reached inside the huge female’s mouth to unhook it and discovered the hook had never fully penetrated the largemouth’s jaw.
Pictures were quickly taken and the bass went into the livewell, then the anglers motored over to Fin & Feather Resort to see if the fish officially qualified for the Toledo Bend Lunker Bass Program.
The immense bass officially weighed 11.73 pounds, easily qualifying for the program because it weighed more than 10 pounds and was tagged and released back into Toledo Bend waters.
Fontenot’s bass is No. 72 for the 2014-15 program season, and he will receive his free replica of the fish courtesy of the Toledo Bend Lake Association at a ceremony next month.
The anglers returned to fish the same area and ended the day with 13 keepers for the day, ranging up to 3 ½ pounds.