Toledo Bend Reservoir has always been a calling card for Louisiana bass anglers, and Paulina’s Ray “Chip” Robert Jr. is among the many faithful who make annual pilgrimages to Bassmaster’s current No. 1-ranked fishery.

“A group of us make a fall and spring trip every year,” the 59-year-old angler said.

His group arrived on Saturday, March 19, but was greeted with strong winds.

“We stayed for the most part in Indian Creek doing well in the shallows,” Robert said. “We had six or seven keepers.”

That Sunday morning was slow, and the group ventured to Indian Creek’s north side.

“Sunday morning we had six keepers on Texas-rigged lizards,” he said.

But the bite pretty much shut down that afternoon.

“It was 7 p.m., we were tired and just about ready to go,” he said. “We were fishing a small point consisting of two patches of hay grass 15 feet off the banks.”

Robert was casting a Texas-rigged Reaction Innovations Magic Craw Swirl Smallie Beaver with a Delta skirt under a ½-ounce tungsten weight. This bait was tied to 20-pound Seaguar Red Label fluorocarbon spooled to a Lew’s BB2 Pro reel on Robert’s own custom 7-foot-9-inch rod made for pitching.

“I cast and she bit on the outside of the hay grass,” Robert said. “I knew it was a fish and set the hook after reeling in the slack.”

At first the angler felt his drag release a little line.

“I tried reeling her in and then she stripped off 5 to 10 feet of line,” he said.

The fish stopped and turned, and Robert’s partner had the fish in the net.

“She was just huge, and we weighed her with my electronic scale,” he said. “The first reading we had was 10.14 pounds.”

Robert prepared his livewell, and they decided to weigh the fish again — this time getting 11.4 pounds.

Since it was so late, the anglers had to keep Robert’s lunker in the livewell overnight. At first, everything was good and the fish was doing fine.

“Fifteen minutes later we checked the livewell again, and it was bone dry,” he said. “So I had a live bait well, and we put her in there and left it in the manual position all night.”

First thing in the morning, Robert was with the bass at Fin & Feather Resort, where the lunker tipped the certified scales at 11.33 pounds for easy entry into the Toledo Bend Lunker Bass Program.

Robert’s fish was later tagged and released, and the angler will receive a free replica courtesy of the Toledo Bend Lake Association in May. It was lunker No. 121 for the 2015-16 Toledo Bend Lunker Bass Program season.