Morning outing gives him his second-biggest bass ever on March 21; bass hits a Strike King Shim-E-Stick
Dale Fowler still can’t believe the second-biggest bass he’s ever held in his hands gave him a third chance.
Fowler had two strikes on him when the “hawg” bit a third time at 10 a.m. on March 21, a Saturday, in the back of Slaughter Creek at Toledo Bend. He let the big bass slurp and savor the watermelon/red Strike King Shim-E-Stick a little longer so he could get a better hookset on that third strike.
“I got her stuck pretty good that last time. It took me about four minutes to get her up because I wasn’t going to toss her in,” Fowler said a few days after the 10.47-pounder was registered before noon that Saturday in the Toledo Bend Lunker Bass Program.
“I about had a heart attack the first time I saw her. She came up, tail-walking, and I said, ‘Oh God, that’s a big fish,’” he said.
Getting the weight
Some bass anglers in a nearby boat who watched him land the fish had the same reaction, he said. They had a hand-held electronic scale and when they got together to weigh the trophy-sized bass it read 10.8.
That was enough for Fowler, a 59-year-old Converse resident who started fishing the lake 50 years ago with his father, the late Marion Lee Fowler, to put the bass in the livewell, store the trolling motor and head to the private boat ramp in the creek near his mother-in-law’s house. It was time to get the official weight at Toledo Town & Tackle on Louisiana 6 west of Many.
But, first, before he did any of that, Fowler called his wife, Kandy Fowler.
“Before I got out of the water, before I even got to Toledo Town, she had already sent texts and pictures to just about anybody I know and she knows. That’s before I knew it was in the Lunker Program,” he said.
Fowler, retired owner of Fowler’s Heating & Cooling, Leesville, added the trophy-sized bass to his list of big bass, including an 11.7-pounder in 1994 at Caddo Lake and a 10.12-pound bass in 2017 at Toledo Bend.
And while fishing that exciting morning — one that dawned crisp and cool, which ruled out his wife joining him in the boat — he already had hooked and boated five bass, including a 9-pounder that was released right away.
The 10.47-pounder that bit three times at mid-morning perhaps thrilled him the most of any of his previous big bass. Its length was 24 ½ inches and its girth was 19 ¼ inches.
“Oh, Lord, it doesn’t get any better than that. That gives you the heebie-jeebies and the shakes, both. I still can’t believe it,” he said.
A history with Toledo Bend
Fowler has put in his time on the water, starting at age 9 with his dad at Toledo Bend. The lake shared by Louisiana and Texas was a few years old when he caught his first bass at The Grapevine.
“I’ve pretty much fished this lake my whole life. I had a good teacher,” he said.
On that memorable Saturday, the avid student was being taught a lesson by a sizeable bass he hooked and missed twice in a matter of minutes while fishing the back of Slaughter Creek. That bass took him to school.
He was about as far back in the creek as one can get when he decided to idle back toward the lakeside home of his mother-in-law, Marcella Ham of Many. Before going there, he saw a stump he couldn’t pass up, one that has given him a 4-pound class bass this spring. He cast toward the structure with the Strike King Shim-E-Stick.
“I said that looks like a good spot that could hold a fish. As soon as I threw at it she hit. I stuck her and had her on a minute. I said, ‘Oh, man, that’s a good fish,’ ” he said, adding he got another chance at the bass and missed connections again.
“The next time … not so long. The last time she hit it I knew I had her,” he said.
Sealing the deal
Fowler said he was so focused on playing the bass carefully that he didn’t have time to get his landing net out, so when the fight was over he reached over the side of the boat and lipped the hawg.
“I thought she was bigger than 10. That’s a big fish,” he said.
He was fishing with 15-pound Trilene Big Game monofilament line spooled on a Lew’s baitcasting reel seated on a custom-built MHX fishing rod made in Florien.
Now he can’t wait to get his hands on the replica courtesy the Toledo Bend Lunker Bass Program.