Chasing bream lands Caddo lunker in trouble

Charlie Gaston of Keithville landed this Caddo Lake lunker on Friday, July 10, in less than three feet of water.
Charlie Gaston of Keithville landed this Caddo Lake lunker on Friday, July 10, in less than three feet of water.

It was Friday. And that meant it was time for Charlie Gaston of Keithville and his younger brother, Alan, to go for their almost weekly fishing trip to Caddo Lake in the northwest corner of the state above Shreveport. But Gaston’s fishing partner got busy, so he just went ahead by himself. He was soon joined with another partner — an 11.60 pound largemouth bass.

It’s the biggest fish Gaston has ever caught by far and his first double digit bass. It came quite unexpectedly because it isn’t the kind of fish you normally see this time of the year.

“We normally fish every Friday that we can, but I went on this trip alone,” said Gaston, who’s not sorry he did. “It was a beautiful morning with a light wind. It was hotter than blue blazes and the water temperature was almost 90 degrees, so I didn’t expect much.  But I saw a few bass running up in the shallows chasing bream so I worked back and forth down this little stretch and caught some nice ones on topwater. But that bite went away when the sun came out.”

Shredder Custom Baits

So Gaston switched to a 10.5 inch Africa colored Shredder Custom worm. It’s a lure made near his hometown. He was catching fish in less than three feet of water, but the shallow spot was right by a dropoff to 5-6 feet deep. That was the key to finding the big fish actively feeding, he said.

Gaston’s lunker largemouth fell for one of these 10.5 inch Africa color plastic worms.
Gaston’s lunker largemouth fell for one of these 10 1/2-inch Africa color plastic worms.

“I didn’t really think there would be a really big bass up in that kind of water, especially with the temp so high and it was just so hot,” he said. “But on about my third cast with the worm, that big fish inhaled it. I was on for the fish fight of my life.”

Gaston almost didn’t catch the lunker, because of the heat, in fact.

“On that cast, as soon as the worm hit the water, I put the rod down between my knees and bent over to pick up a bottle of water to try and cool off,” he recalls. I had just picked it up when I felt the thump on my leg when the fish hit it. I barely grabbed it in time to reel up the slack and set the hook. It made a run in that shallow water and I didn’t know if I could even turn it.”

Gaston was praying all that time that the fish on the end of his line was a bass. A few weeks ago, he caught a 30-pound grinnel (choupique) in the same area and he was thinking he had on another one. But when the fish turned and came up, there was no doubt what it was.

One last battle

“I finally got the fish to the boat, but had to run from one end to the other to keep it from breaking my line,” he said. “It came up again and tried to throw the hook, then just kind of gave up. When I slipped the net under the big bass I knew it was the biggest one I’ve ever caught.”

Besides going 11.60 pounds, the huge fish was 25 inches long and 17.5 inches around. It’s belly was empty looking and both Gaston and the folks that weighed it at Buzzard Bay Marina agreed it would have weighed 14 pounds if it had been springtime. Gaston, an employee of Libby Glass in Shreveport, filled out the paperwork for the BASSLIFE Trophy Replica Program, eased the fish back into his livewell and took it back to the very tree he caught it by to release it. He said it didn’t take but a few seconds of holding the fish in the water for it to swim off with a splash.

He landed the big fish at approximately 8 a.m.

Caddo Lake is a mostly shallow, cypress lined lake that is partly located in Louisiana and partly in Texas. It is a huge impoundment at 25,400 acres and was formed by the “Great Raft,” a 100-mile long floating log jam back in the lake 1800’s. It backed up water from the Red River into the shallow area to form the lake. The lake was later dammed up to consistently hold water and is a known producer for trophy bass.

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About Kinny Haddox 507 Articles
Kinny Haddox has been writing magazine and newspaper articles about the outdoors in Louisiana for 45 years. He publishes a daily website, and is a member of the Louisiana Chapter of the Outdoor Legends Hall of Fame. He and his wife, DiAnne, live in West Monroe.

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