Big times at Toledo Bend

Lunker action ramping up as spring takes hold

It’s not a matter of if — but when.

That pretty much sums up the nature of when the largemouth bass spawn begins in earnest each year as winter turns to spring at Toledo Bend.

Bass anglers preparing springtime trips up to the 185,000-acre reservoir on the Sabine River between Texas and Louisiana eagerly anticipate its kickoff. But will the first wave of action peak during the March full moon? Will Mother Nature throw everyone a curveball, and delay the initial big push into the shallows? Or perhaps, an early warmup will crank things off slightly earlier than usual.

Who knows? But one thing’s for sure: Double-digit bass have been caught each and every month so far in 2019, and action really ramped up during the first week of March, when a 14-pound giant and four 10-plus-pounders were reeled in within days of each other.

Action should only improve as water temperatures slowly rise, so the coming weeks should be prime time to land a lunker — just like these anglers did:

DeQuincy angler lands 14-pounder at Toledo Bend

Sean Kennon, 27, of DeQuincy, shows off the monstrous 14-pound lunker largemouth he caught on the south end of Toledo Bend on Saturday, March 2. The big fish, which was tagged and released back into the reservoir, bit a Santone Lures 3/4-ounce football jig in peanut butter and jelly color in about 24 feet of water.
Sean Kennon, 27, of DeQuincy, shows off the monstrous 14-pound lunker largemouth he caught on the south end of Toledo Bend on Saturday, March 2. The big fish, which was tagged and released back into the reservoir, bit a Santone Lures 3/4-ounce football jig in peanut butter and jelly color in about 24 feet of water.

Get the full story on Sean Kennon’s big bass here.

Texas angler enjoys epic day

Chance Vicknair shows off the 10.43-pound lunker bass he caught Friday, March 8 on the south end of Toledo Bend. The big bass choked a Strike King 6XD chartreuse sexy shad crankbait on a ridgeline in about 15 feet of water.

Get the full story on Chance Vicknair’s epic day here.

Pitt lands his first two double-digit fish ever,  just 53 days apart

Cody Pitt has been on quite a roll this winter and early spring up at Toledo Bend.

The Many angler got things started on Jan. 14 at the mouth of 6 Mile when he landed a whopping 11.49-pound largemouth on a Carolina-rigged V&M swamp hog in black and blue. That monster was 27 ¼ inches long, with a 19-inch girth — but Pitt wasn’t done just yet.

Cody Pitt landed two double-digit bass up at Toledo Bend. This 11.49-pounder was caught at the mouth of 6 Mile on Jan. 14.
Cody Pitt landed two double-digit bass up at Toledo Bend. This 11.49-pounder was caught at the mouth of 6 Mile on Jan. 14.
V&M swamp hog in black blue glitter
V&M swamp hog in black blue glitter

Lunker lightning struck again on Friday, March 8 when he landed his second double-digit fish in only 53 days after he reeled in a 10.52-pounder from just 3 feet of water in Housen on a ¾-ounce V&M Big LeBoom chartreuse-and-white spinnerbait.

Cody Pitt got this 10.52-pounder in Housen on March 8.
Cody Pitt got this 10.52-pounder in Housen on March 8.
The V&M Big LeBoom spinnerbait in chartreuse-and-white. (Courtesy of V&M)
The V&M Big LeBoom spinnerbait in chartreuse-and-white. (Courtesy of V&M)

‘Over the last three or four years, I’ve lost two fish that I know for sure were over 10, and it’s always haunted me,” Pitt said with a chuckle. “To catch the one was unexplainable. On the next one, I didn’t even know what was happening.

“Now I feel like I’ve caught back up, so I feel better about myself.”

Wilkerson’s big bass tips the scales at 10.53 pounds

Tyler Wilkerson typically throws a Zoom Baby Brush Hog in the color South Africa Special when he night fishes on Toledo Bend. But the dark-colored lure produced a daytime lunker largemouth for him on a cloudy day on March 8 on the south side of the reservoir.

Wilkerson’s big fish bit a Carolina-rigged Zoom Baby Brush Hog in South Africa Special color.
Wilkerson’s big fish bit a Carolina-rigged Zoom Baby Brush Hog in South Africa Special color.

“The only reason I picked it up was because it was cloudy,” said Wilkerson, of Negreet, who noted he was fishing on the Louisiana side. “She was staging. I was sitting in about 15 feet of water casting shallow, but she hit me at about 8 or 10 feet. I knew it was either a big goo or one over 10. When I saw her head pop out of the water, I really knew. She came up one time, and I just played her out until I got her to the boat. My little brother Ryan netted her for me.”

Tyler Wilkerson, 34, of Negreet, shows off the 10,53-pound lunker largemouth he landed on the south end of Toledo Bend on the Louisiana side March 8.
Tyler Wilkerson, 34, of Negreet, shows off the 10,53-pound lunker largemouth he landed on the south end of Toledo Bend on the Louisiana side March 8.

The big fish bit about 11:30, and the brothers eventually headed to Buckeye Landing, where the fish tipped certified scales there at 10.53 pounds, with a length of 25 inches and a girth of 19 ½ inches. It easily qualified for the Toledo Bend Lunker Bass Program, which awards anglers who return double-digit fish to the reservoir with a complimentary mount.

“I’ve caught several 9s, 8s and 7s, but that’s my first double-digit,” Wilkerson said. “I was ecstatic. I was pumped.”

DeRidder angler finally gets his lunker

David Burton is 70 years old, and has been fishing since he was 12.

On Saturday, March 9, he finally accomplished every bass angler’s dream when he reeled in his very first double-digit largemouth near Boone’s Crossing at Toledo Bend.

David Burton, of DeRidder, shows off the 10.01-pound largemouth bass he caught near Boone’s Crossing at Toledo Bend on March 9.
David Burton, of DeRidder, shows off the 10.01-pound largemouth bass he caught near Boone’s Crossing at Toledo Bend on March 9.

“Several years ago, back in 2005 I think, I caught a 9.12 on a spinnerbait across from Fin & Feather. And I always kicked my rear for not getting it weighed on a proper scale,” said Burton, of DeRidder. “ I don’t think they had the certified scale system at that time, but I always thought if I had weighed it on proper scale it might have been over 10.”

He doesn’t have to worry about that fish anymore: His registered lunker, which officially tipped certified scales at Buckeye Landing at 10.01 pounds, bit a firetiger Cotton Cordell Big O crankbait in about 5 feet of water.

A firetiger Cotton Cordell Big O crankbait.
A firetiger Cotton Cordell Big O crankbait.

It measured 25 ¾ inches long, with a 19 ¼-inch girth, easily qualifying for the Toledo Bend Lunker Bass Program, which awards anglers who release double-digit fish into the reservoir with a complimentary mount.

“After working at it for more than 50 years, I finally got one,” Burton said with a laugh. “It proves that anybody can get lucky on a given day.”

Baker angler catches 10-plus-pounder

Kyle Alexander, of Baker, shows off the 10.41-pound lunker bass he caught on Feb. 15 at Toledo Bend near Turtle Beach. The big fish bit a jerkbait in 10 to 12 feet of water at about 12:30 p.m., Alexander said.
Kyle Alexander, of Baker, shows off the 10.41-pound lunker bass he caught on Feb. 15 at Toledo Bend near Turtle Beach. The big fish bit a jerkbait in 10 to 12 feet of water at about 12:30 p.m., Alexander said.

Get the full story on Kyle Alexander’s lunker bass here.

Patrick Bonin
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Patrick Bonin is the editor of Louisiana Sportsman magazine and LouisianaSportsman.com.