Travis Pradia had a goal to reach.
The 40-year-old angler from Lake Charles wanted to reel in at least a 5-pound largemouth bass.
So earlier this month, he headed to Toledo Bend and not only achieved his goal - he doubled it.
He and Kaleb Trahan, also of Lake Charles, launched near the south dam at Toledo Bend on April 15 and made the short run to Buck Creek, an area with flats and haygrass that’s a prime location for spawning bass.
At their first stop, they observed three bass on a bed in 4 feet of water.
“Travis, if you want to catch a 6-pound bass, there she is,” Trahan had said, referring to the largest shadow on the bed.
Pradia had a Big Bite Warmouth tied on to his PowerPro Slick 8 50-pound braid, which was spooled to a Shimano Calcutta 200 reel on a 7-foot, 6-inch, medium-heavy Shimano Crucial rod.
The first two fish in the boat were buck bass, one taken by Pradia and the other by Trahan.
“I messed with the other big bass for 30 minutes,” Pradia said. “She just didn’t want to bite at all.”
The angler watched what he thought was a 6-pounder consistently take a look at his bait and then turn away.
“I even bumped her on the nose and that didn’t work,” he said. “Finally, I made another pass that hit her on the side and slapped her on the tail. She made a circle and nose-dived on the bait.”
As the bass swam off with the bait into the haygrass, Pradia set the hook.
“Seeing the bass in the water, Travis said that it was the 6-pounder I was looking for,” Pradia said. “In my mind I was saying, ‘That fish has got to be bigger, maybe even 8 or 9 pounds.’”
Then the fish made its first jump, reinforcing Pradia’s impression that it might be a more sizable fish.
“When she was back into the water, she was steadily pulling drag,” Pradia said. “I kept on fighting her as she ran through the haygrass.”
The big fish made one final jump right before Trahan netted it.
“Kaleb picked her up and said, ‘Oh my God, Travis, this fish is a 10-pounder.’
“I immediately grabbed her and I was still in shock, but noticed a yellow tag in her. I asked Kaleb what that was all about.”
Trahan suspected the tag might mean a free replica of the big fish, so they headed to Fin & Feather Resort to weigh the bass, where it tipped the certified scales at 10.27 pounds.
The information on the yellow tag revealed that it had been initially taken by Aaron Taylor in April, 2013, when it weighed 10.01 pounds at Toledo Town and Tackle.
Pradia’s bass is lunker No. 76 entered for the Toledo Bend Lunker Bass Program for 2014-15, and he will receive a complimentary replica of the fish from the Toledo Bend Lake Association next month.