When Acadiana Bass Club members Eric Arnold and Brannon Mire weighed-in Saturday for the first day of their club's two-day tournament, they were five fish short of their two-man limit. Their total was only about 15 pounds, leaving them a whopping 14-pounds out of the lead.
But they were fishing Toledo Bend, where a big stringer is always possible.
Which the Lafayette anglers proved the following day by dropping 10 fish on the scales for a total of 52.25 pounds — with the best five weighing 35.40 pounds.
Yeah, they won the tournament.
So what was the difference between the two days?
Arnold said it was a matter of learning from the school of hard knocks on the first day.
"We prefished Friday, and we knew they had some fish on beds the previous week," he explained. "We stopped at a hump at the mouth of Tenneessee Bay and caught a 5-pounder pretty quick. So we left that and went in the back of one of the creeks."
With warming temperatures, the team counted on another wave of spawners moving shallow. So they spent all day Saturday trying to make it happen.
"At that point, we kind of knew the big ones weren't in there," Arnold said.
So with the Sunday weigh-in set for noon, Arnold and Mire decided to give that hump another try, even though a stiff wind that had the water's surface churned up and made controling the boat a nightmare.
It was worth the effort to keep the boat positioned, however.
"We had pretty much all of our fish in the boat by 9:30," Arnold said.
They left the hump briefly to get out of the wind, but returned about 10:30 a.m. to catch their biggest fish — a 7.9-pounder landed by Arnold — before heading in for the weigh-in. Mire's biggest bass was 7.86 pounds.
"We didn't have any big kickers — they were all between 7 and 8 pounds," Arnold said of the 35-pound five-fish stringer.
Arnold caught his fish using a Carolina rig, while his partner used a football jig.
The key to their bites was targeting fish staged up on the side of the hump.
"We kept the boat in 27 to 30 feet of water, and you had to throw up on top of the hump and drag (the lure) down it," Arnold explained. "The fish were in 14 to 18 feet of water.
The 10-fish stringer pushed their two-day weight to 68.63 pounds, with their nearest competitor totaling 37.47 pounds.
"We were 14 pounds behind on Saturday, and we came back and beat the second-place team by 30 pounds," Arnold said. "We got lucky for once."
Toledo Bend has again been pumping out numbers of double-digit bass, and you can read about many of these huge fish by clicking here.