Toledo Bend is much more than the No.1 bass fishery in the United States: It’s also a camper’s paradise with scenic pines and hardwoods situated along its shorelines.
Matthew West’s family is among the many who spend weekends and other holidays camping and recreating on one of the many SRA campgrounds on the Louisiana/Texas border lake.
On Saturday afternoon, Feb. 27, West decided to take a family fishing trip and launched from Pleasure Point Park into the southern waters of the reservoir.
His 11-year-old son Lance was with him, along with Lana, his 8-year-old daughter. And his wife Melanie was also aboard enjoying the family time in cool, comfortable temperatures on the lake.
“We fished the Louisiana side for a while, but my son Lance wanted to look for bedding fish,” said West, of Ragley.
So they eventually made their way to Buck Creek on the lake’s southwestern Texas side.
“We were in an area of hay grass looking,” West said. “And we noticed a couple of roaming fish.
“Then I moved back outside the grass to 10 feet of water and realized it was coming out about 20 yards from the bank with a good patch of milfoil.”
The angler was casting a Keitech swimbait tied to 15-pound Berkley 100-percent fluorocarbon spooled to a Lew’s reel on a 7-foot-2-inch Falcon Cara rod.
“I had a couple of bites within five minutes,” he said. “One came off and I missed on the other.
“Then I set the hook on the third one.”
West started reeling and asked Lance if he wanted to finish taking the fish.
“The fish came up and did a dance for us,” he said. “When Lance saw the size of the bass, he said, ‘Never mind.’”
From his first glimpse, West knew it was at least over 8 pounds.
“Melanie was telling the children to get the net located underneath the deck,” he said. “I worked the fish for a long five minutes as it made several drag-pulling runs.”
Lance eventually netted the huge bass, and then West immediately increased his size estimate.
“I knew it was over 10,” he said.
On West’s handheld scale, the lunker weighed 11.2 pounds.
“I immediately took out the divider in the livewell to make sure she would fit,” he said.
West motored back to Pleasure Point, trailered the boat and headed to Toledo Town and Tackle later, where the hawg officially tipped the certified scales at 12.25 pounds and easily qualified for entry into the Toledo Bend Lunker Bass Program.
West’s bass was tagged and released, and the angler will receive a free replica from the Toledo Bend Lake Association in May.
The huge fish is lunker No. 68 for the 2015-16 season of the TBLBP.