Like many avid bass anglers, Louis Slaughter Sr. literally dreams about catching big fish.
One recent morning, the 66-year-old pastor at Warren Baptist Church in Many awoke and recalled a specific dream about landing a 12.2-pound lunker at Toledo Bend.
As it turns out, Tuesday morning’s fishing trip with his son Louis Jr. resulted in a fish bigger than even his wildest dreams could produce — a 13.15 pound monster caught near Park Site 7 on the Texas side.
“We got out there about 8:30 and it was sprinkling rain and we started to not even go, but we decided to go just a little ways instead of heading to our regular place,” said Slaughter, who lives in Florien and usually fishes around Indian Creek. “We decided to fish out in front of the park and just went out there a little ways and got one bite — but that’s all it took.”
Slaughter was using a modified 5 ½-inch Strike King sexy shad shadalicious swimbait in about 20 to 30 feet of water when the big bass bit.
He’s already caught four 5-pounders this year on the big hollow-bodied swimbait. So what specific alterations did Slaughter make to the lure?
“It’s modified, I’ll put it that way,” Slaughter said with a coy chuckle. “We don’t fish with them like we get them. I put two more colors on it.”
Tuesday morning, the big bass sucked it up on the fall at about 10 a.m.
“It didn’t hit bottom. I always let it hit bottom and then crawl it slow across the bottom,” he said. “I thought I had hit a log or a stump — it just stopped. I told my son, ‘I guess I’m hung up on a stump or something.’
“And I picked it up real slow and felt a tug on it. I said, ‘My foot, that’s a fish.’ And I jerked it and thought it was a catfish, because you catch catfish on the bottom.”
A tense four- or five-minute struggle began, with the fish staying down on the bottom. When the big bass finally broke the surface, chaos ensued.
“We thought all this time it was a big catfish,” he said. “When it came up out there with its mouth open, it was unbelievable. It looked like it weighed 25 pounds then. It was just plumb funny. It wasn’t funny to my son, but it was funny to me.”
Louis Jr. was laying down in the boat and attempted to lip the big fish in. But one good head shake later, and the bass was back in the water and he was missing some skin from his thumb.
“Whenever he dropped her and she went back in the water, that reel was singing, son,” Slaughter said. “I’m talking about she went 50 feet just as fast as she could go.”
But Slaughter’s 15-pound Seaguar fluorocarbon held, and on his second try, Louis Jr. successfully lipped the monster and got it in the boat.
Both anglers were speechless at what they saw.
“When he laid it in there, I didn’t say anything and he didn’t say anything,” Slaughter said with a laugh. “Finally, I said, ‘Well, what are you going to do now?’”
On his scale, the fish weighed 13.2 pounds, so they turned on the aerator and carefully placed the giant fish in the livewell and immediately headed to Toledo Town and Tackle, where the bass arrived healthy and officially weighed 13.15 pounds on certified scales.
The fish, which measured 26 ¼ inches long with a 21 ½-inch girth and easily qualified as fish No. 54 for the Toledo Bend Lunker Program, was tagged and eventually released alive and healthy back into Toledo Bend waters.
Since Slaughter’s bass weighed at least 10 pounds and was successfully released after tagging, he will receive a free replica courtesy of the Toledo Bend Lake Association in May.
“It was a really good day. We had a good time. The courtesy and friendship from the people up at Toledo Town was unbelievable,” Slaughter said. “We’ll never forget it.”