Three casts. Three fish of a lifetime. Three new entries in the Toledo Bend Lunker Bass Program in just over 24 hours. It’s big bass time on Toledo Bend.
There are lots of examples of why people say “good things come in threes,” but if you are a bass fisherman, you’d have to add this to your list. Friday and Saturday, March 5 and 6, three huge lunker bass were taken by three separate fishermen on Toledo Bend, ranking as the 10th, 11th and 12th bass entered in the lake’s lunker bass program.
Greg Young from Weatherford, Texas started things off with a 10.77 whopper caught on March 5. Ville Platte’s Dane Berzas caught a 10.11 March 6 and Todd Jackson from nearby Shreveport landed a 10.81 to make the list. Anglers who enter the registry and release their fish alive are presented with replicas of their catches so the fish get to live to fight another day and the anglers get a lifelike reminder of their trophy catch.
First trip, biggest bass
For Young, it was his first trip ever to bass fish on Toledo Bend and his 10.77 whopper was a personal best catch for him. He felt like it could have weighed more, but he was fishing in a tournament and had to keep the big fish alive from 8 a.m. when he caught it until the weigh-in at 4:30 p.m.
“We were worried about keeping it alive and in good shape to weigh and release, but it worked out great,” he said. It weighed a little bit more on my scales right after I caught him. It ended up being a great morning. We had five fish that weighed 27.85 pounds.”
Young caught the fish making long casts when they saw fish boil up chasing shad. His partner, Randy Allen, actually cast in the spot first and didn’t get a hit, so Young threw in right behind him and “Bam,” the big fish hit. It immediately started taking line and Allen told him to take it slow and easy. The advice paid off and he landed the lunker. He landed the fish in an area with 4 to 7 feet of water on a Z-Man Chatterbait in Hite Hot craw color.
The bait never hit the bottom
Berzas also caught the biggest fish of his lifetime with the 10.11. He said he’s hooked some that big, but something always went wrong. This time it didn’t.
“I made a long cast with a Carolina Rig and normally, you feel the weight touch the bottom and the line kind of goes slack when you are fishing that rig,” he said. “The bait hadn’t even hit the bottom and I felt a little tick. The line hadn’t gone slack and I knew it must be a fish. I set the hook and the bait didn’t move. I figured the fish had me wrapped up.”
In just a few seconds, he knew he was wrapped up, but not in a limb — on a big fish.
“Man, it started swimming and I knew it was a good one,” Berzas said. “About halfway in, the fish swirled and I kept thinking it was going to try and jump. It was just like a dead weight. When we did get the fish in the net, it only took me a couple of minutes to tell my partner I was sorry, but we had to go weigh in that big fish. I couldn’t wait.”
Brush Hawg for the win
They made it to the dock, got the fish on the scales and it first showed 9.90 pounds, then bounced up to 11, then settled and locked on 10.11. His heart skipped a beat when he first thought he missed a double-digit bass by the smallest of margins. But he made the 10-pound club. He then took it back down to the lake for a successful release.
Berzas caught the lunker in about 12 feet of water on a hump with scattered grass. He was using a Watermelon Red Baby Brush Hawg with the tail dipped in chartreuse. He said it was funny, but he had a Brush Hawg on his hook and it looked redder than normal, so he took it off and put on a new one. The big fish was caught on the very first cast with the new lure.
Not far from home
Todd Jackson is a regular on Toledo Bend, which is just south of his hometown of Shreveport, and he’s been fortunate to catch several bass over 10 pounds. But, as he says, “catching one like that would never get old.”
Jackson was also fishing a tournament on Saturday when he caught his lunker. He had been fishing an area that a friend had recommended and they were finished fishing there and about to crank up and leave. But he decided to try a little spot not far ahead of them. He rounded a little point and cast a 1/2 ounce chrome Rat-l-Trap right up near the bank in two feet of water.
“I don’t know for sure, but I think that fish was on a bed,” he said. “She nailed it and when she came out of the water, I thought it was a 6 or 7 pounder. Then she got in the grass and it was just like dragging the fish in after that. We netted it and when we pulled all the grass off it were like ‘Wow’ because it was obviously a 10 pounder.”
He solidified his theory that the fish was on the bed because he cast back in the spot one more time before he left and caught a smaller male bass. He entered it in the lunker program and they kept it in their live tank overnight and released it the next day.
Toledo Bend Lunker Bass Progam
The Toledo Bend Lake Association (TBLA) awarded 39 lunker bass replicas to anglers at Cypress Bend Resort on July 25, 2020. Dinah Medine, coordinator of the TBLA Lunker Bass Program, and TBLA President Ricky Yeldell presented the replicas to the deserving anglers.
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 toledobendlakeassociation.com/lunker-bass-program.html