Despite a serious mishap on Toledo Bend waters May 15, Forest Hill’s Andrew Lee kept a positive mindset.

“We had a very close call,” the 22-year-old said. “My partner, Derek Basco from Cheneyville, and I were traveling 65 mph when a boat crossed in front of us. Our boat hit the water so hard that the Power Poles deployed and three Duckett rods fell overboard.

“So we were discouraged, but I told Derek that we had to put it behind us.”

Before the anglers had arrived at Toledo Bend to begin fishing the Sealy Outdoors Big Bass Splash, Lee had told Basco and his brother he was going to catch a bass over 10 pounds.

“I just had that feeling,” Lee said. “And after the problems Friday, I told Derek that none of that mattered anymore. 

“We’re going to catch a big fish.”

The anglers started early that Saturday on Carrice Creek and nothing was hitting what they had to offer.

“Derek had heard there was some decent fish caught on Slaughter Creek on the Louisiana side, but both of us had never fished it,” Lee said.

The anglers decided to give it a try anyway, and they motored over to the location.

“Derek was getting bit and I wasn’t,” Lee said. “By that time, we had caught about 60 bass over the course of the two days, but we couldn’t break 3 pounds.

“So I changed from throwing a Sweet Beaver and placed a watermelon-red Zoom Z-Hog on the hook.”

Lee was using 65-pound PowerPro spooled to a Lew’s Tournament Pro reel, with a snell knot on a 6/0 Trokar hook. He was casting this setup on a 7-foot Falcon heavy Flipping Stick.

“We were flipping into laydowns and cypress trees in 4 to 6 feet of water,” he said. “I could actually feel my line moving across limbs.

“I was also bouncing it like a jig.”

At about 9 a.m., Lee felt a fish suck up the Z-Hog.

“I reeled down and felt she was slowly sinking with it,” he said. “I set the hook as hard as I could.”

Then Lee had to work the fish out of the cover.

“I started to winch her and she actually came straight to me,” he said. “She tried to pull down to go underneath (the boat), but I turned her away and got a glimpse at how big she was.

“I immediately told Derek to get the net because there was no way I could lift her in the boat.”

The huge bass then made a run to the front of the boat.

“She tried to jump but she was just too big to completely come out of the water,” Lee said. “Then she made a turn to run toward the motor.

“I got her away and then she appeared laying on her side – and Derek had the net underneath her.”

Both anglers were in awe of the size of Lee’s bass.

“Oh my God,” said Basco. “We just won it!”

Lee admitted his knees were weak as soon as Basco had the huge fish in the boat.

“I went down and thanked God,” he said.“Then I made a call to my dad because he’s the one who made me fall in love with bass fishing.”

Lee said the bass, which weighed 11.30 pounds on a digital scale aboard the boat, was the largest he’s ever caught.

The anglers motored to the Big Bass Splash weigh station, where the lunker officially weighed 11.45 pounds, good enough for second place and a 2015 Triton 19TRX bass boat, a RAM truck and $2,500 in cash.

It is lunker No.2 for the Toledo Bend Lunker Bass Program for the 2015-16 season.