Four more Toledo Bend lunkers: bank on it!

LeDaine Summers of Paulina was fishing a club tournament on March 31 when he caught this 11.65-pound bass at Toledo Bend.
LeDaine Summers of Paulina was fishing a club tournament on March 31 when he caught this 11.65-pound bass at Toledo Bend.

Toledo Bend anglers landed four more double-digit bass over the past week, increasing to 29 the number of fish that have qualified for the Toledo Bend Lunker Program since last May.

And each of the most-recent big fish were caught in wildly different ways: one while an angler was stopped, talking to fishing buddies, one after another boat left a spot, one from the bank, and the fourth on the angler’s fourth cast of the day.

Stop for a chat

LeDaine Summers of Paulina was fishing a club tournament on March 31, when he ran up Coal Miner’s Creek, then stopped and talked to several other club members who were fishing. He made a long cast with a watermelon red, Texas-rigged Senko off a point.

“I had stopped and talked with some other guys for a little while, and I felt my line get tight,” said Summers. “We’d been sitting there for a minute; I thought I’d hung a stump.”

But the stump started to move, and Summers, who was fishing with his son, Mitchell, set the hook.

“She took off to the left, came out of the water, and a buddy in the other boat said, ‘That’s a 10.’ She ran under the boat, then came back out; I was shaking the whole time.”

Summers finally got the big fish – 11.65 pounds – under control and got her aboard at around 3 p.m.

Summers, who was using a 13Fishing rod and a Lew’s reel spooled with 15-pound Red Label fluorocarbon, said he made an immediate mistake: he didn’t check his line and retie. About 30 minutes later, using the same rod, reel and lure, he hooked another bass he estimated at 9 to 10 pounds, but it broke his line right beside the boat.

“My son was mad at me; we could have weighed in two huge fish,” he said.

Summers wound up catching a 6-pound bass, to go with his big fish, and he and his son headed for Bridges Bay Resort for the weigh-in. He weighed in the smaller fish, kept the big fish in the livewell with the aerator running and headed to Keith’s Toledo Bend tackle to get it officially weighed and entered in the Toledo Bend Lunker Program.

“We go to Toledo Bend every year to fish a club tournament,” Summers said. “I caught a 10.19-pound fish in 2021 on the first day we got here.”

So sorry you moved

Somewhere, there are two anglers who are really wondering what might have been on Saturday, April 2.

They watched Glenn Marcantel of Basile boat a 3 ½-pound bass in Toledo Bend’s Six Mile Creek, picked up, looped around Marcantel and his wife, put their Power Pole down and started fishing again.

Marcantel kept working the same bank, and 10 minutes later, when he came to the spot the other boat left, he slung a ¾-ounce football-head jig – green with a green-glitter skirt and Yum crawfish trailer in watermelon seed – into 4 to 6 feet of water.

And hooked and landed a 10.09-pound lunker – with the other guys watching.

On April 2, Glenn Marcantel of Basile hooked and landed this 10.09-pound lunker.
On April 2, Glenn Marcantel of Basile hooked and landed this 10.09-pound lunker.

“It was about 2 o’clock, and I’d caught six or seven fish, smaller fish, a pound or 2, and my wife, Melissa, and I had fished another two hours without getting another bite,” Marcantel said. “I figured, if I’m not getting bit, I’m going to try something else, so I tied on a football jig. Within 10 minutes, I caught that 3 ½-pounder. It was the first fish I’d ever caught on a jig. About 5 minutes after that, I caught the 10.

“The first fish was next to a laydown, and the second wasn’t far from it. There were two guys fishing not far away, and when they saw me catch the first fish, they went around me, put their Power Pole down and started fishing again. I caught the big fish right where they’d been sitting. I was throwing into about 4 to 6 feet of water, but I could see the bottom. I was casting around stumps. I was just dragging that jig a little bit, real slow, and with braid, you feel everything. I felt a little tick, and when I pulled against it, the line started heading to deep water. I set the hook, and it felt like I’d set into a stump.”

Marcantel eventually got the fish under control and to the side of the boat, where his wife slipped the net under it.

Marcantel was fishing a Denali Kovert series rod, 7-foot-4, heavy action, with a Lew’s reel spooled with 30-pound braid. He took the fish to Fins and Feathers resort to get it officially weighed and measured: 10.09 pounds, 26 inches long and 17 inches in girth.

Marcantel said the fish appeared to have already spawned; its belly was flat and empty in the 66-degree water.

A good fish? You can bank on it!

Casey Smith of Florien was keeping an eye on Toledo Bend on Sunday, April 3. In fact, he’d seen three nice bass in the shallows near the U.S. Army Recreation Center. The sight was enough to send him back inside for his rod and reel.

“I saw one big fish, maybe it was a gar, maybe I was misjudging it, but I came up and told my dad and my son’s mom that I was gonna catch that fish,” Smith said around 1 p.m.

He grabbed a Lew’s rod and reel combo, the reel spooled with K-9 braid, tied on an underspin with a Lazy Man gold blade and a V&M High Tail shad in silver minnow.

“I could see the fish’s reflection in the water, and I figured I’d try my luck. I hadn’t bass-fished in a while; I’ve been crappie fishing. But I could see the fish I was after.”

Smith started casting from the side of a dock to the fish, which was bedding in some patchy grass on a clay bottom.

“I threw it over there and bounced it along. On the fourth cast, I said to myself that I’d do it one more time, and I twitched it a little more, trying to make it more realistic.”

And out of nowhere, a fish Smith hadn’t even seen, rushed from under a patch of grass and blasted the bait.

“That big girl came out, and it was on. She toe-tagged me. When I saw her open her mouth, I got so excited, my knees got weak,” he said. “She tried to get under the pier, but I knew what she was trying to do and stopped her. I was standing pretty close to the bank, and I took off running and jumped off the pier. I kept tension on her, and when I got her close to the bank – I was standing in the water – I saw how she was hooked. I thought if she rolled over, she was gone. But I got my hand in her mouth, and I came unglued. I gave out a big, Ric Flair, ‘Wooooo!’”

Casey Smith of Florien holds the Toledo Bend lunker he caught on April 3. The 10.5-pound bass was 27 ½ inches long and had 18 inches in girth.
Casey Smith of Florien holds the Toledo Bend lunker he caught on April 3. The 10.5-pound bass was 27 ½ inches long and had 18 inches in girth.

Smith climbed back up on the bank and put the fish in his son’s little swimming pool and called a buddy, Zach Gagnard of Elite Guide Service, a crappie-fishing guide. When Gagnard arrived, they loaded the fish on his pontoon boat and headed to Fins and Feathers resort, where the fish officially weighed 10.5 pounds, was 27 ½ inches long and 18 inches in girth.

“She was completely spawned out,” Smith said. “She had a sore on her side, and her tail – well, it hadn’t been too long since she had spawned.”

A great first stop

Jesse Hyatt of Shreveport didn’t get to fish very long when he put down his trolling motor at around 6:45 a.m. on Monday, April 4.

But don’t feel sorry for him. On his fourth cast, at his first stop – a little south of mid-lake – he caught an 11.26-pound lunker that is the 29th fish to qualify for the Toledo Bend Lunker Program.

Jesse Hyatt of Shreveport was fishing at Toledo Bend on April 4 when he caught this 11.26-pound lunker.
Jesse Hyatt of Shreveport was fishing at Toledo Bend on April 4 when he caught this 11.26-pound lunker.

“It was still twilight out,” Hyatt said. “It was my first fish of the day, on my fourth cast – just about as soon as I put my trolling motor in the water. My wife, DeAnna, was sitting in the back of the boat drinking coffee, not even fishing.”

That’s when he flung a ¾-ounce chartreuse/white spinnerbait with two gold, willow-leaf blades and no trailer to the side of a dock, fishing a baitcasting rod with an ABU Garcia SX reel spooled with 14-pound fluorocarbon. He slow-rolled the bait down to about 5 feet, and he felt the bait stop before it should have. He set the hook.

“She was about 15 or 20 yards off the bank, on the side of the dock,” Hyatt said.

“I was hollering at her, telling her to get the net,” Hyatt said. “I was concerned when she first took off and started taking drag. When I got her off the bottom, she darted right back down. I thought she was gonna shake hooks. Then, when I got her to the surface where I could see her good, I just wanted to make sure she didn’t jump. My wife handed me the net, and I netted her.”

“I filled up the livewell and put her in, then we ran across the lake to Fins and Feathers. I think we were the first people there. I went in and told ‘em I had a 10-pounder and asked if they could weigh and measure it.”

Hyatt seriously underestimated the 25-inch fish, which had a girth of 19 ¾ inches. It weighed 11.26 pounds.

“She hadn’t spawned; she was still full of eggs,” he said. “I think that’s why I thought she was so much bigger when I thought she was just a 10.

“We went back out and fished a little longer, but not too long, maybe an hour before we went in.”

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