Opening week at Bussey Brake Reservoir meant a lot of things to a lot of people. But there’s no doubt what the most important moment of the first week was for Sterlington’s Brandon Johnston. Johnston landed a 10.84-pound monster, the first reported double digit largemouth out of the 2,200 acre newly renovated lake in Morehouse Parish.
Johnston had caught some good bass on Friday afternoon and got to the lake at 5:40 a.m. Saturday, July 18, to fish with his son Landon and fishing partner Eric Whitlock. They had fished all the way down a productive stretch of brush and grass and had turned around to make another pass at the area when he caught the monster.
“We caught several smaller fish and my buddy caught one about five pounds on our first pass down the stretch,” he said. “I was throwing a 10 1/2-inch Ol’ Monster Zoom worm. I was using a watermelon red worm, but took it off and put on the same worm in black and blue. I didn’t catch anything on it for a while, then switched over to a June Bug Red color. On about the third cast with that worm, I flipped it up by a willow bush and felt a little tug.
“I set the hook and when I did she flashed up close to the surface. The water is pretty clear and when I saw her I started yelling for my son to get the net. I knew she was big, but didn’t know she was going to be over 10 pounds.”
Securing the fish
The story got a little hairy at that point. Even though Johnston was fishing with a 5/0 hook and 20 pound line, he was in some pretty thick cover and on the first pass when he got the big fish by the boat, his son missed the fish with the net. He had the fish halfway out of the water and after another brief battle, the second swoop of the net was true and they raised the bruiser into the boat. But it wasn’t over. When Johnston picked up the lunker bass, she flexed her muscles and jumped out of his hands, landing on the front deck close to the edge of the water. For a minute he saw the fish flash before his eyes and thought she might go back in. But he wrestled her back in his grasp and held her up.
“I was pretty excited, but when I turned around and saw my son and partner with their mouths wide open and their eyes as big as saucers, I got even more excited,” he said.
Getting a weight
Unfortunately, the big fish had gulped down the worm and hook into its throat. They worked the hook out fairly easily, but when they put her in the livewell, she turned on her side and they couldn’t get her going again. Johnston didn’t have a scale, but a friend nearby had a good digital scale. But before the friend got there, another man fishing nearby gave them his scale. It was a very accurate digital scale and the fish weighed in at 10.84 twice.
“I really wanted to turn her back, but the stress of being caught and having that hook so deep just did her in,” he said. “We worked and worked with her, but couldn’t revive her enough to get her to swim.”
So Johnston kept the big fish and will get a natural mount on it. It wasn’t his first choice, but was the only choice he felt he had. He pointed out quickly that he and his fishing partners have caught about 40 good bass since Bussey opened on Wednesday, July 15, and they have not kept any of the others. At least twenty-five of those fish were over the 16-inch slot, he said.
“In fact, I don’t plan on keeping another bass from there for a long time,” he said. “If we manage this resource like we should, this could be one of the top trophy lakes around.”
Big bass at Bussey
Johnston said that the bass they are catching are so healthy they almost look like pre-spawn fish. In fact, two other anglers he knows caught some pretty nice ones in the same area the same morning. Fishermen Josh Thomas caught a 6-pounder and his partner John Carr caught an 8-pounder within minutes of Brandon’s big fish.
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