Irish eyes were smiling on Moss Bluff’s Jeff Atchison Thursday when he reeled in a St. Patrick’s Day bass of a lifetime on the southern end of Toledo Bend Reservoir.
The 55-year-old angler of Irish descent scored on a 12.51-pounder while fishing a wacky-rigged trick worm near Buck Creek.
Atchison and his wife Andrea were camping, and launched from the Texas side at 8:15 on a very foggy morning.
“It was so foggy that at first that we just started fishing by trolling around the cove near the launch,” Atchison said. “We would not venture out to the boat lane with all that fog.
“There were other boats around us doing the same thing.”
The fog eventually lifted, but not until after Atchison and his wife picked up four keepers.
“I was planning on going over to Hickory Ridge but couldn’t get there,” he said. “So on the way we stopped and fished the outside of a grassline on a point near Buck Creek.”
Atchison was working the trick worm on 12-pound Berkley fluorocarbon spooled to a Shimano Curado reel on a 7-foot All Star rod.
On one of the first few casts, Atchison remembers throwing out and allowing his lure to sit once it reached the bottom — but it never did.
“I saw the line taking off and set the hook,” he said.
The angler knew immediately it was a big fish by the resistance he felt.
“I told my wife to get the net while I worked her,” he said. “She made very strong runs, one that almost spooled me.”
The big fish surfaced one time, and then headed out again on another run away from the boat.
“When I worked her back near the boat she surfaced for a second time, but my wife had the net ready,” he said.
Once the fish was aboard, Atchison placed the big bass on his scale and got a weight just under 13 pounds.
After a 2 ½-hour boat run because of the weather, Atchison finally got to Fin & Feather Resort to obtain a certified weight on the bass for entry into the Toledo Bend Lunker Bass Program, and the lunker tipped the scales officially at 12.51 pounds.
The fish was tagged and eventually released, and Atchison will receive a free replica from the Toledo Bend Lake Association in May. It was lunker No. 99 for the 2015-16 season of the Toledo Bend Lunker Bass Program.
“Well, I have finally caught one better than my wife’s fish,” Atchison said, referring to a Toledo Bend 11.6-pounder Andrea caught years ago before they knew about the lunker program.