Having just learned a new punching technique from a friend, Robert Brown was on Toledo Bend last weekend putting his new skills to the test.

On Saturday afternoon, March 26, the 57-year-old Hemphill, Texas angler and his friend Jim Edgerly launched into Toledo Bend in search of a few willing largemouths along patches of hay grass in the Six Mile area.

“We left at 3:45 p.m.,” Brown said. “I told my wife I’d be back at dark.”

Brown returned only 20 minutes later, which made his wife suspect he had boat problems. Instead, he came back with the story of the biggest bass of his life — an 11.1 pounder.  

The angler had been punching hay grass in 4 feet of water with a 1-ounce black-blue jig with a Reaction Innovations Sweet Beaver as a trailer. The jig was tied to 60-pound Suffix braid spooled to a Lew’s Speed Spool on an All Star WR-10 rod.

“On my fourth cast, she ate it on the drop,” he said.

The fish headed for deeper water toward the back of the boat, taking drag. 

“Then she came back to the boat and went under, taking even more drag,” he said. “I thought it was a catfish at first.”

That’s when the lunker came up from under the boat and surfaced.

“When I saw she was a bass, I got weak to my knees,” he said.

When Edgerly saw the fish, he readied the net for Brown’s next effort to get the bass to the boat.

“She came back again toward us and headed to the weeds,” Brown said. “I worked her back and Jim had her netted.”

Once the fish was aboard, Brown knew it was a double-digit fish so he readied the livewell immediately.

“Our fishing trip was done for the rest of the day, and we immediately headed out to Fin and Feather Resort to weigh her,” he said.

The certified scales at Fin & Feather officially recorded Brown’s bass at 11.1 pounds. 

The fish was tagged and then released, and the paperwork was completed for its entry into the Toledo Bend Lunker Bass Program, where it was recorded as lunker No. 116 for the 2015-16 season.

Brown will receive a replica of his lunker courtesy of the Toledo Bend Lake Association this May.

“I always thought that I would keep a fish like that for a skin mount,” Brown said. “But it was just awesome turning her loose and watching her swim off knowing she could be caught again. I know I did the right thing.”