Jordan Babcock lived one of those rare experiences on Toledo Bend that most bass anglers only dream about.
The 21-year-old angler from Orange, Texas — along with his father Milton and friend Ryan Newman — launched Saturday morning from the family camp near Hillside, unaware that 14 hours later he’d be battling his biggest bass ever.
“We actually started the day fishing at 7,” Babcock said. “And we did pretty well.
“My father caught an 8-pounder in the morning followed it up with a 6-pounder later. I caught a 5 1/2-pound bass, as well.”
The anglers made a full day of it, had dinner and then ventured out to fish again just before dark.
“When we got back out there, dad immediately had a 4-pound bass on a jig,” Babcock said. “We were in an area in Six Mile that my father heard was a great night spot to fish…
“It was a deep offshore spot with a hump.”
The angler said his crew hardly ever spent time night-fishing, and they were curious as to what would happen in the location holding 15 to 20 feet of water.
“I was throwing a swimbait and my father was fishing a jig,” Babcock said. “Ryan was working a crankbait.”
Babcock’s unnamed swimbait was tied to 20-pound P-Line CXX spooled to a Daiwa reel on a heavy Daiwa rod.
“I made a long cast at about 9 p.m.,” he said. “After making two cranks on the reel I felt a big thump.”
At the same time, Babcock’s father also had a hit and managed to pull in a 3-pounder while Babcock started working his fish.
“I killed (stopped) the swimbait when I was retrieving it and the fish hit it again,” Babcock said. “I felt her load up and I set the hook.”
Babcock didn’t feel the fish was particularly strong until it made a jump on the surface.
“I cranked the reel and kept the rod tip down,” he said. “Then I yelled to my buddy to grab the net.”
Babcock knew it was a good bass, but it wasn’t until the flashlight hit the fish that he realized how huge it really was.
“When we had the light on her, I knew she would go over 10 pounds,” he said.
Once aboard, the angler’s lunker weighed almost 12 pounds on a handheld scale.
“My father kept fishing while I was making phone calls to find a place to have her officially weighed,” Babcock said.
Interestingly, his father had scored on a Toledo Bend 10.64-pound lunker on March 5 of this year.
Eventually, Bruce Salter at Buckeye Landing was contacted and he agreed to accommodate the night anglers.
So Babcock and the crew trailered the boat and made the 50-minute drive to the landing.
On Buckeye Landing’s certified scales, Babcock’s fish — which had been tagged previously — weighed 11.12 pounds.
Information from the tag revealed it had been previously caught on April 8, 2016, in the Six Mile area by Jay Norsworthy.
Babcock’s lunker was later released alive, making the angler eligible for a replica courtesy of the Toledo Bend Lake Association.
It is lunker No. 3 to be entered into the brand new 2016-17 Toledo Bend Lunker Bass Program season.
“It was a great day and night spent fishing at Toledo Bend,” Babcock said. “We figured our five fish weighed 35 pounds.”