DeRidder angler finally lands elusive Toledo Bend lunker

Jim Miers of DeRidder weighed in this 10.96-pounder, the 20th fish entered in the 2018-19 Toledo Bend Lunker Bass Program season, on Feb. 4. The big bass bit a Zoom lizard in sprayed grass color on a treetop in the Mill Creek area.
Jim Miers of DeRidder weighed in this 10.96-pounder, the 20th fish entered in the 2018-19 Toledo Bend Lunker Bass Program season, on Feb. 4. The big bass bit a Zoom lizard in sprayed grass color on a treetop in the Mill Creek area.

It took more than 50 years of trying, but Miers gets double-digit bass

Jim Miers has been bass fishing for a long, long time — more than 50 years by his count, including close to 1,000 trips up to Toledo Bend.

“I was bass fishing before Toledo Bend was built, and I really got into it after Toledo Bend was built,” said Miers, 64 years young, who lives in DeRidder and serves as the pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in nearby Merryville. “So I’ve been bass fishing 50-plus years.”

Before last Monday, his biggest bass ever was in the 7-pound range. But that all changed Feb. 4 around noon, when Miers set the hook on a big bass nestled in a treetop on the south end of the Bend in the Mill Creek area.

The hawg weighed-in officially at 10.96 pounds, only a half-ounce shy of 11, and just like that the double-digit fish that had eluded him all those years was finally in the boat.

So was maybe a little divine intervention involved in landing the lunker?

“Ain’t no doubt about it,” Miers said with a chuckle. “But I told my wife if it takes me 65 years to catch another one that big, I better hurry up ‘cause I’ll be getting pretty old by then.”

Miers was with church member Roger Hogue on a still, foggy morning when they launched from the Texas public ramp on the south side of Toledo Bend near the dam.

“We were in muddy water to start with and weren’t doing real good,” he said. “I always throw out some noodles and wienies  to catch catfish, and we caught quite a few.

“Then I said, ‘Let’s go find some clear water and bass fish a little bit.”

Miers was fishing with a Texas-rigged Zoom lizard in sprayed grass color when he targeted a top that was only partially visible in about 6 feet of water. At first, he didn’t even think he had a fish — much less a lunker.

Jim Miers, of DeRidder, landed this 10.96-pound bass on the south end of Toledo Bend in the Mill Creek area on Feb. 4. The lunker bit a Texas-rigged Zoom lizard in sprayed grass color.
Jim Miers, of DeRidder, landed this 10.96-pound bass on the south end of Toledo Bend in the Mill Creek area on Feb. 4. The lunker bit a Texas-rigged Zoom lizard in sprayed grass color.

“We had found some hydrilla growing again, and actually I thought I had a ball of grass,” he said. “I was fiddling around doing something else and I turned around to look at it and it stopped, and I figured I was hung in the treetop.

“Then it started going sideways. She never bumped it or anything — she just picked it up and came toward the boat.”

That all changed once he set the hook, but he enjoyed the fight, keeping his rod tip down in the water to prevent the big female from breaking the surface.

“I knew it was a big fish,” said Miers, who ultimately lipped the bass aboard. “Even for a 64-year-old, it was an exciting time. It’s the biggest one I ever caught, so it was exciting.”

He and Hogue packed up and instantly headed to Buckeye Landing, where the 25 1/2-inch bass tipped certified scales there at 10.96 pounds, easily qualifying for entry into the Toledo Bend Lunker Bass Program, which awards anglers who return double-digit fish to the reservoir with a complimentary mount.

And Miers knows exactly where this fish is going on the wall — right near an 8-plus-pounder his wife caught years ago in an employees’ tournament up at the Bend for Beauregard Electric Co-op, where she worked for more than 30 years.

“She was the only woman in it. She caught an 8 1/4, won the big bass, won the big stringer, won all the money — and they haven’t had a tournament since,” Miers said with a laugh. “So I’ve been looking at that fish all these years, because that’s bigger than anyone I’ve ever caught. But now I got her …

“I want to try to mount my fish where it’s about to eat hers, but I don’t know if I’ll be able to do that.”

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