Fate was on Baton Rouge bass angler Joseph Martin’s side on a mid-February day that dawned with near-freezing temperatures before he launched his 1994 Blazer 202 bass boat around 8:30 a.m. at Lake Fausse Pointe State Park.
That’s a plausible explanation behind the personal best 8.17-pound bass he hooked and boated Saturday, Feb. 15, on Lake Fausse Pointe, which rarely gives up bass heavier than 6 pounds. And the rewarding aftermath.
After fishing about three hours with his buddy from his high school days, Austin Whitaker, Martin cranked up, left the big borrow pit he was fishing below the state park and headed to the Texaco Field. He really didn’t want to go there because of the boat traffic in an oilfield known as a prime spawning area in late January, February and March.
The 23-year-old Woodlawn High School grad who was scouting for this weekend’s Fishers of Men National Tournament Trail event out of Doiron’s in Stephensville said he went to his favorite Texaco Field canal and caught a small bass, his second one that size that Saturday. A few minutes later his Strike King KVD 1.5 chartreuse/blue crank bait’s path took it by some structure away from the bank, which he had targeted before with a few repeated casts.
“I said, ‘Let me make one more bomb cast.’ I bounced it off the structure and felt it, you know, load up on it. It was fighting hard, hard. I said it was a goo (gaspergoo, a freshwater drum) or catfish. It came up about 15 yards away. I saw it wasn’t a catfish. I saw silver. I still thought it was a goo,” he said.
The fight to land the fish
The next time he got a good look at it, Martin realized it was a “hawg.”
“I started hollering for the net. It was under four tackle bags and eight or nine of Austin’s rods,” he said.
Whitaker overcame the tangle on the bottom of the boat, got the landing net out cleanly and scooped up the big, big bass with no trouble. Both bass anglers feasted their eyes on the bass, appreciating how fat it was, how long it was.
“We started hollering,” Martin said.
The bass was longer than his 22-inch measuring board by 1/4-inch, so he’s calling the length at 22 1/4 inches, and he took some braided line, pressed one end on the fish and went around to measure the girth, cut it where it met up and saw it was 18 1/2 inches around.
They also started trying to find somebody with a scale, pronto. The angler in the first boat they saw looked but couldn’t find one. Then an aluminum bass boat that had just run in on step before slowing for the small boat caught his eye. It was a black Xpress X21, wrapped.
He did a double take and put his trolling motor on “10 or 9” to make a beeline for it. He thought he recognized it.
“I told my buddy, ‘Is that a wrapped Xpress?’ He said, ‘Yeah, it looks like an aluminum boat with a bunch of stickers on the side.’ I’m a big fan of the Bassmaster Elite Series and pro bass fishing,” he said.
A helping hand from a familiar face
Before Martin, a personable young man who sells crane mats for B and D Mats LLC, got to the boat he knew it belonged to Caleb Sumrall of New Iberia, who was fishing that day with his wife, Jacie, daughter, Clelie, and son, Axel. Sumrall, 32, has been enjoying a break between the Elites opener at St. Johns River in Florida and the Bassmaster Classic on March 6-8.
Sumrall readily weighed the bass.
There was one more thing he wanted to do. Martin asked the pro bass angler, 2017 B.A.S.S. Nation champion who’s in his third year as an Elite, if he would be in a photo with him and his bass and Sumrall obliged to make Martin’s day even more memorable. Like Sumrall, Martin, who has fished two or three times a week ever since he got his driver’s license, is following the B.A.S.S. Nation path with high hopes.
Then it was time to retrace the boat’s path and release the hawg, obviously full of eggs, where it was caught.
Martin’s previous biggest bass was a 6-pounder caught March 3, 2018, in a borrow pit on the lake side along the West Atchafalaya Basin Protection Levee.