Lucas Arnold of Denham Springs figures he’s caught two Toledo Bend bass over the past two weeks that have cracked the 10-pound mark, but he’s only recognizing the second one.
Prefishing for the July 7-8 Brandon Belt team tournament, Arnold boated a big bass. He slapped it on his portable scales, which read 10.9 pounds, then released it without having it weighed officially and entered in the Toledo Bend Lunker Bass Program.
“I didn’t want to risk killing that fish for a replica,” he said, referring to the replica mount each fishermen who shows up at official scales with a double-digit bass receives. Preserving big fish in hot weather is tricky.
Back on the spot
Then, the first day of the tournament, fishing with his father, Larry, he caught another stud on the same exact spot. This one weighed 9.9 on his scales; an hour later, on the scales at Cypress Bend Marina, the fish weighed 10.22 pounds, the fifth bass to qualify for the TBLP since the 2023-24 season began six weeks ago.
“I’ve fished Toledo Bend for 16 years — ever since we’ve had a camp here,” said Arnold, a 26-year-old welder. “I’ve caught a lot of 9s, but this was my first ‘official’ 10. I’m sure that first fish was way over 10 because of what the second one weighed on my scales.”
The “second one” won big fish in the tournament, worth $1,500. The Arnolds had more than 20 pounds the first day but caught only two fish the second day and didn’t scratch in the final standings.
But for a couple of minutes on Friday, July 7, they were on top of the field.
“I caught the first one pre-fishing about two weeks ago,” he said. “I fished this place in practice, and I made three casts and caught two 3s and that big fish.”
The Arnolds were back on the spot — a mid-lake ridge with stumps and a trash pile on the end, in 21 feet of water.
“I had this place marked,” he said. “I idled over it after I caught those fish and I thought there were four or five others down there that looked all about the same size.”
Grab the net!
About 1 p.m., Lucas Arnold started casting a Texas-rigged Zoom Ol Monster worm (Red Bug). When he lifted his rod tip after the worm reached the bottom, he said, “It just felt like dead weight.
“As soon as I picked it up, I knew I needed to swing,” he said. “She was just sitting there, holding it. As soon as I swung on it, I told my dad to grab the net. It was at the end of a cast, way out there, and she came up all the way and jumped out of the water. Then, she had three good runs where she stripped drag. Finally, she came up, and dad netted her.”
The Arnolds fished another 30 or 40 minutes, then decided to take the fish in to weigh.
“They open the scales at 8 (a.m.), and you could weigh any individual fish at any time to keep them alive; they saved a lot of fish last weekend,” said Arnold, whose fish weighed 10.22 pounds and was 26 inches long and 19 inches in girth.
“She was weighed at 2, then they took her and tagged her and released her,” he said.