Brad Case of Florence, Miss., isn’t a regular on Lake D’Arbonne, but as a member of the Louisiana Hurricanes Kayak Fishing Team, he was there Friday, Sept. 2, to practice for a Saturday tournament against a kayak team from Georgia.
Case has been to D’Arbonne before and he always heads as far north in the lake as he can to get away from the crowds. He put his kayak in at Gills Ferry and eased down to what locals call the “mixing hole.”
He’s always liked D’Arbonne, but around 8 a.m., he got to like the lake a whole lot more. After a somewhat amusing encounter with a bass in the grass, he managed to hook the big fish and land it. When he got it on board and got over what he was looking at, he weighed in the fish at 10.2 pounds. It also had a 19 1/2-inch girth and was just a mark shy of 26 inches long.
A memorable catch
It was the fourth 10-plus pounder he’s ever caught, but the retired Army veteran won’t forget the story behind this one any time soon.
“I started working around the islands and I could see some bass blowing up on the inside edge of the grass line, but I couldn’t get one to hit a frog to save my life,” he said. “I kept trying and tried some other baits when I finally put on a Gambler Easy Swimmer and cast it out. I let it sink a few seconds and started to reel, but I felt like it was hung on a big clump or grass. I started pulling hard and I felt it move a little bit like it was coming to me. I reeled up the slack and it kept doing the same thing.”
Finally, he “pulled the lure free from the grass” and made another cast in the same spot, making the same retrieve. Only this time, there was no grass there.
“I couldn’t understand it and I was just about to reel the bait in when I felt the same thing again,” he said. “There was no hit, just a heavy feeling and I decided maybe this was not grass. She had apparently followed it back out toward the boat and was looking for it. I set the hook and the rod bent double. But the rod started bobbing and it went to the bottom like it was a big catfish.”
A really nice bass
The fish swam toward the kayak, then under it and Case grabbed the net and sat down, thinking he just might keep this big catfish to eat. But when it broke the water a few yards from the kayak, it was no catfish.
“It rolled on the top, but didn’t go crazy. I could tell it was a nice bass,” he said, adding it just swam up on its side and into the net. “Then I looked down and saw it was a really, really nice bass. I held her in the net in the water and took a couple of pictures, got my scale and board ready and lifted her in the boat. Oh man, it was a really, really nice bass. I couldn’t believe it. Not this time of year. The bass was kind of sluggish and I think it had something to do with the 80 degree water. And she wasn’t very fat. She would have probably weighed 12 pounds in the spring, maybe more.”
He took the measurements and a few more photos, then released her back in the same spot he caught her. He texted a couple of teammates that he had landed a really nice one and they texted back comments like “nice log” or “another big stump.” Then he sent the pictures and they were all excited.
Catch and release
The Louisiana Hurricanes didn’t do too well in the tournament on Saturday, but Case got a pretty good consolation prize. And he set up someone else for the same thrill.
“Some people ask why we release fish like that,” he said. “There’s an easy answer. I got pictures. I got measurements. I got the memory. There are plenty of smaller crappie and bass to eat. Why would I go chop that fish up? I want to know I can possibly give another person the enjoyment of catching that fish, maybe even a 9-year-old kid who could catch it and that would change everything for them.”
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