Toledo Bend isn’t through turning out spring lunkers just yet. And the spawn is just getting underway. Even though the weather turned nasty and water temperatures dropped last weekend, it didn’t deter a trio of Toledo fishermen from bringing in monster largemouth bass.
Three more 10-pound-plus largemouths were caught at Toledo Bend last weekend and entered into the Toledo Bend Lunker Bass Program, where anglers get a free replica and superior fish are used for breeding, then released back into the lake. It’s a popular program that helps biologists take advantage of the genetics of huge bass to help produce more fry and, in turn, more big bass for the future.
The massive 190,000 reservoir on the Louisiana-Texas border has given up the 17th, 18th and 19th entries in the program between March 19 and 21 with these three fish.
Lloyd “Hoss” Fowler of Borweir, Texas, got things rolling on March 19 with a 10.05-pound lunker and was joined the same day by Keith Breaux of Gueydan in landing a trophy program lunker, with Breaux’s going 11.51 pounds.
Travis Broussard finished up the three-day, three-lunker run with the biggest of the three on Sunday, March 21. His whopper weighed 12.07 pounds and was the No. 19 registered in the program during the 2020-21 period. The Toledo Bend Lake Association (TBLA) is in charge of the program.
While many anglers focus on the banks and look for bedding bass this time of year, neither of the three were caught doing that. The three fish were caught in three different types of areas using three fairly different techniques and lures.
Big one bites a spinnerbait
Broussard’s big bass was one of several he has caught and entered into the program over the years, but it is his personal best. He caught the big fish about 8 a.m. throwing a white Booyah spinnerbait. He likes white when the fish are feeding on shad, but he says when the bite is on, color isn’t critical. He says if they are hungry and think it’s something to eat, they’ll nail it. It’s more about getting the bait in the right type of cover and fishing it where it triggers them to want to bite it.
“We were fishing in a grass flat and just working the spinnerbait across the top of the grass,” he said. “The fish were pretty active that morning considering everything. We had just found an area with a school of nice ones and boated several big fish. On the big one, there wasn’t anything special that I did or that I threw the bait by. We were just covering ground and fishing the grass in about 10 to 12 feet of water. When she hit, I knew I had a good one. She put up a big fight and it was pretty exciting when we realized just how big she was. I’ve caught several 10’s and 11’s, but this one was obviously the biggest I’ve caught.”
The fish had an old tag in it, but it was unreadable. Broussard was hoping he could find out when it was caught and released before, but he wasn’t able to do so. But it’s obvious that the fish was caught and released before and that’s why this lunker program is so important, he said. People should take care of big fish like this and get them back in the water. Broussard said the fish were staging in the deeper water and getting ready to spawn. He said sometimes the fish on Toledo even spawn in deeper water like the spot he caught this one.
“A lot of people don’t believe it, but I’ve seen them spawn in that deep of water,” he said. “They’ll even spawn in 20 foot of water on brushtops and the tops of stumps that stick up 4-5 feet below the surface. It’s all about what’s available and the water temperature.”
A “Hoss” for Hoss
Fowler also paid close attention to the water temperature when he caught his “Hoss” of a bass. He and his partner had backed off the spawning flats and were fishing a Wacky Worm up and down a creek bed that ran beside a great spawning flat.
“When we left the house, there was a north wind and I don’t usually fish in a north wind,” Hoss said. “But we went and when we got there, the water temperature had dropped about 10 degrees from our previous trip, so we just slow fished back and forth on the edge of that creek. The fish had backed off the flat and that’s where they were.”
He may have discovered a new secret fish attractant in the process of catching his personal best “keeper” fish. He had just finished eating a chicken salad snack and he made a long cast. As the worm was sitting there, he bagged up his trash and put it in his trash can, then picked up the worm and shook it. The fish loaded up on it and the fight was on. He caught it on a Senko color No. 925, a green pumpkin with red flake worm.
“The reason I was in that creek was because I was fishing with a high schooler in one of their tournaments the week before and he caught a tagged fish,” he said. “He wasn’t signed up, but I knew that fish didn’t travel far. Turns out I caught one even better than the tagged fish.”
Slow and steady
Fowler has caught a bigger bass before, but it was a “football” of a fish on Lake Fork and it weighed just over 11 pounds. But it was a quarter inch short of the 24-inch slot limit and he had to let it go.
“Those fish use those creeks like a highway this time of year and they are either moving up and down them looking for food or they stage there and hang out until everything gets right up in the shallower water,” he said. “With the water temperature considerably lower, we also fished the lure really slow. That’s the way they wanted it.”
Slow start, fast finish
Breaux and his partner got off to a slow start on their fishing trip. They were fishing in a tournament and had fished for a while only catching a couple of little ones. They were both fishing watermelon red Rage tail worms but not picking up any good fish.
“I told my partner they just weren’t liking that color, so I was going to switch to something white and when I turned around to get a new bait, I saw some Larew Blueberry Craw lures and that looked good, so I tied one on. I put it on a wobblehead hook and about three cats later, I caught a 6 pounder. A few casts later, I caught a five. Then things slowed down for me.”
It didn’t pick back up until close to noon, “a bunch of casts later,” Breaux said. He tossed out the Craw worm and gave it a few cranks when she jumped on it.
“She hit it hard, man,” he said. “I told my partner to get ready to help me because I had a big one on. He wasn’t sure he believed me and in a few seconds, the big fish went around a stump. I just knew I was going to lose her. But I put my foot on the trolling motor and headed that way. Before I could get there, she came loose and took off again. I told him again to come give me a hand and about that time to fish flashed. That time, he got moving and helped me get it in.”
Where the fish was caught
His partner looked at the fish and said, “Man, I think we’re going to win!” Breaux was fishing in a stump field when he hooked his monster bass. The water varied from seven to 12 feet deep and the fish were just suspended out on the stumps.
“I knew with this weather that the fish were not going to be on the banks,” he said. “They may have started spawning some this week, but they weren’t when we caught these fish.”
Breaux said he’s caught several bass over 10 pounds, including an 11-8 about eight years ago. But this one was special because of being able to put it in the lunker program.
The largest bass caught so far the 2020-21 Lunker period is a 12.41 caught by Brandon Rennkleiv of nearby Reeves, La. Official weigh stations on the Louisiana side are Toledo Town and Tackle, Mid Lake -Hwy 191 and LA 6 (318) 256-5613 and Buckeye Landing, South Lake – 268 Buckeye Lane, Many, LA 24Hr# (318) 586-4757 or (318) 508-2971).
You can learn more about the Toledo Bend Lunker Bass Program at https://www.toledobendlakeassociation.com/lunker-bass-program.html