Big fish anchors a big-bass day

Bart Blakelock’s 10.61-pound Toledo Bend bass hit a small crankbait on March 12.
Bart Blakelock’s 10.61-pound Toledo Bend bass hit a small crankbait on March 12.

Lake Charles native boats 10.61-pounder at Toledo Bend

Bart Blakelock hit the bass-fishing jackpot last week. He and his fishing partner, Joe Norris, got on a bunch of huge fish on the northern end of Toledo Bend Reservoir on March 12.

“It was a pretty special day. We were just up there playing, in an area where we won a Texas Team Tournament in 2015,” said Blakelock, a native of Lake Charles now living in Flatonia, Texas. “Our five best weighed 37.61. We had six over 6 pounds, seven over 5 pounds and nine over 4 pounds.”

Oh yes, one of those big fish was a 10.61-pound brute that Blakelock caught on a small crankbait.

“We caught these fish coming in,” Blakelock said. “They hadn’t moved up yet; they were staging. They were out in front of a main-lake drain that was 4 to 6 feet deep. We were fishing in the center of the drain, around timber and small patches of grass.”

Blakelock caught his big fish one cast after boating a 4 1/2-pounder.

“I took that one off and reminded myself, there could be a big one left in there,” he said. “I cast to the same area, jerked my little crankbait down three times — like you’d fish a jerkbait. When I cranked it again, she smashed it.

“She came up and jumped after I’d cranked the reel four or five times, then she went back down, and I was able to keep her down.”

Blakelock was fishing a chartreuse/shad Strike King 2.5 crankbait on an Impulse rod and Lew’s reel spooled with 17-pound fluorocarbon.

“The 4 1/2-pounder and the big one were both shallow, a foot-and-a-half or 2 feet; they were the only two we caught super shallow,” he said.

Blakelock is a big fish magnet

Blakelock and Norris, who is from Shreveport, eventually took the big fish to Toledo Town and Tackle, where they got it officially weighed, certified and entered into the Toledo Bend Lake Association’s lunker bass program, where the fish was tagged and released, with Blakelock put on a list to receive a replica mount of the bass.

“This is the second replica mount,” he said. “It’s my fifth fish over 10 pounds from Toledo Bend — my biggest is a 13 from Falcon — but I didn’t bring the others in to weigh because they were caught during the summer and I didn’t want to chance it. This one, as soon as I weighed him, they got him in the water where they hold him and tag him.”

The big day that Blakelock and Norris had extended to the next day, when they won a Bass Champs tournament on nearby Lake Rayburn, their catch anchored by a 10.39-pound fish that Norris put in the boat.