Big, “prehistoric” bass highlight Toledo Bend weekend

Michael Mitchell of Lake Charles with the 11.58-pound bass he caught at Toledo Bend.

Besides lake-record bass, Toledo Bend spit out four other double-digit lunkers

A bunch of dinosaurs showed up at Toledo Bend Reservoir this past weekend. Well, no T-Rex or stegosaurus or pterodactyls, but certainly ancient specimens, maybe even fossils.

“They all kind of look prehistoric when they get that big,” said Michael Mitchell of Lake Charles, one of four fishermen to boat a double-digit bass on Saturday, Feb. 11, including three in the same tournament. “It’s awesome when they come up over here; it’s been something else this year.”

Mitchell was standing in line, waiting to get his 11.58-pound monster weighed in at a Bass Champs tournament at Cypress Bend Park. Behind him in line was Bill Cook of Houston, Texas, whose weigh-in bag carried a 15.67-pound monster, the new lake record. Another angler in line, Rusty Clark of Jasper, Texas, was toting a 10.12-pounder in his weigh-in bag.

At Fins & Feathers Resort, Douglas Greenman of Lake Charles weighed in a 10.11-pound bass the same day, and Cypress Bend Park saw another monster on Sunday, when Cody Pitt checked in at a Game Changers Outdoors tournament with an 11.79-pound brute, his third double-digit fish from Toledo Bend since Jan. 27.

That quintet of lunker largemouth brought to 21 the number of double-digit bass entered in the Toledo Bend Lunker Program during the 2022-23 season – including 15 since Jan. 1.

Mitchell’s winning fish

Besides Cook’s lake-record lunker, Michael Mitchell’s fish made the biggest splash, helping him and son Nathan win the Bass Champs tournament and better than $20,000 in prize money with a 5-fish limit weighing 28.95 pounds.

His 11.58-pound fish was 26 ½ inch long and 20 inches in girth. It hit a bladed jig in about 10 feet of water on the lower end of Toledo Bend around noon.

“I caught her in a little drain we’d practiced in the past couple of weeks,” he said. “They moved in pretty good on Saturday. I clipped some grass with my bladed jig, and when it came through the grass, she came up and swirled on top. I saw the boil, and it took everything I had to keep reeling. After that, she loaded up on it. I think she missed it the first time and came back and got it.

“She came up and rolled on her side, and I saw how big she was. My son got the net, and she made another drag past the boat.

The fish got ready to jump again, but Nathan MItchell, 23, who is on the Pride Rods pro staff, “scooped her into the net,” Michael Mitchell said.

Mitchell’s big fish was his first to qualify for the Toledo Bend Lunker Program, and it provided a great anchor for his other four best keepers.

“We had another one over 6 pounds, one just about 5, and a couple of 3s. We probably caught 30-plus fish. We culled a bunch of 3s,” he said. “I think we’re going to have an early spawn. In about three weeks, it’s going to get intense.”

Clark “trapped” his lunker

Rusty Clark of Jasper, Tex., holds the 10.12-pound bass he caught during a Bass Champs tournament.

Rusty Clark was fishing the edge of a shallow flat with scattered clumps of grass, winding a Rambo red Sixth Sense Duke with a steady retrieve.

“All of the sudden, he knocked slack in the line,” Clark said. “I didn’t think she was that big at first, but she came to the top and rolled on her side, and I saw her. Then, she went around the boat, and my partner, Cody Rambo, netted her.”

Clark’s lunker anchored a 25.59-pound stringer that was good for fourth place in the Bass Champs event.

“We had a pretty good day,” he said. “All day, we probably caught 60 or 70 fish. There were so many big fish – I think the top 21 places were all over 20 pounds.

“This was an area where we’ve caught fish in the past. Three or four weeks ago, I caught one right under 10 pounds. This place, I guess the grass and water just got right. We went last weekend, fished maybe three-quarters of a day, and we caught some fish in that area.”

Pitt strikes again

Cody Pitt with the 11.79-pound lunker bass he caught on Toledo Bend during the Game Changers Outdoors tournament.

Cody Pitt caught a 10.09-pound Toledo Bend bass on Jan. 27, then he boated a 13.60-pound bass in a MLF Bass Fishing League event on Feb. 3 that he won with a 39-pound, 15-ounce stringer.

His latest monster, weighing 11.78, measuring 25 ¼ inches long and 21 inches in girth, anchored a 42.30-pound limit that won the big-fish pot and first place (with partner Lane Masters) in the Game Changers Outdoors tournament.

“This one came from the middle section of the lake – in between the other two,” Pitt said. “I was fishing a clean, hard bottom right off a drop, in 22 feet of water.”

Alabama rig gets the job done

The big fish hit an Alabama rig he was crawling across the bottom, and when the fish hit, at around 1:30 p.m., there was no doubt it was a bite.

“She blasted it,” he said. “When I leaned into it, I thought it was pretty heavy. When it came up, there was no doubt it was a double-digit fish.”

After Masters netted the fish, Pitt got back to work.

“I lost one 10 casts after that big one that was pretty heavy; the hook just pulled out. Ten minutes after that, I caught one that weighed 9.13. That fish was tagged. I didn’t notice it until we weighed in, and I called (TBLP), and they called me back and said it had been caught in March 2020 and weighed 10.20 then. I figure she’ll be that big in another month or so.

“That 9 was the last fish we caught. The last fish we culled was 6.05. I caught an 8½ around 9 a.m., and I caught one in the first 10 minutes that I know was over six.”

Greenman “camps out” for big bass

Douglas Greenman’s family has a camp on Toledo Bend in the Indian Creek area, but he often “camps out” for bass on a point in Buck Creek. That’s where he was last Saturday – the whole 15 minutes he fished.

Douglas Greenman of Lake Charles caught this 10.11-pound bass on Feb. 11 at Toledo Bend.

“My parents have a camp in Indian Creek, and when we come down, I like to fish for a few hours in the morning, then go back and hang out with the family,” he said.

The point is sort of a grass edge on the end of the flat where it drops into the creek channel, Greenman said, and that’s the first place he stopped, just after daylight.

“I had an 8-pounder last year on the same point,” he said. “I was fishing by myself Saturday, Texas-rigging a junebug Berkley Pit Boss, and she knocked slack in the line. I knew it was a good fish, but I wasn’t thinking it was going to be that big. Then it came up and jumped, and I scrambled around and found my net.”

Moments later, he had the 24 ¼-inch fish, which was 19 ¼ inches in girth, in his boat.

“I weighed it on my scales, and it was about 10,” he said. “I didn’t want it to die or anything, so I went in and trailered over to Fins & Feathers. That’s all I fished. I fished all of 15 minutes that morning.”

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