Most of the time, Zachary Gagnard of Many would rather be taking clients crappie fishing on the massive waters of Toledo Bend. This time of year, the sunken brushtops are calling his name and telling him to bring crappie jigs.
But when fellow guide Wes Holt of Hooked Up Guide Service calls and says the big bass are biting, Gagnard can’t say no. On July 1, he was glad he said yes. He went night fishing with Holt and landed a 10.87 pound lunker, his sixth lifetime 10-pound plus largemouth.
“That night, we just headed to a brushpile and didn’t even graph it when we got there. We just started fishing,” said Gagnard, the owner of Elite Guide Service. We pulled up and I caught one about seven pounds at 12:30 a.m., right after we started fishing. We went on to another brushpile and caught a five pounder, but decided there had to be more big ones where we started, so we went back.
“We pulled up to it and I threw a big old Monster worm with a half ounce weight right into the top,” he said. “The bait hit the pile, came over a limb and she smoked it. When I set the hook, the rod bowed up and she took off. The rod doesn’t bend like that often, so I knew what I had.”
Get the net
Mind you, all this happened in the dark. And to make things worse, the duo had left their big light at the house and only had a small headlamp for extra light. After the big fish made its initial run, it headed straight for the surface and made a big jump. When the fish busted the surface and then belly-flopped back in the water, even without seeing it, the two experienced fishermen knew it was a 10-pound-plus fish.
“It’s unusual to catch this big of a fish in the summer,” he said. “The thing was 26 3/4 inches long….a giant. Its stomach was flat and if we would have caught it in the spring, it would have probably weighed 13 pounds.”
The bait of choice for Gagnard was a seven-inch Zoom Ol Monster worm in Camo color. It was one of only two worms like that they had in the boat, despite having hundreds of other colors and types. He also used a tungsten weight and 15 pound fluorocarbon. They both use big weights to cover the whole brushtop and stay close to the bottom.
The duo finally got the bass close enough to the boat to see it roll in the dim light that they had, and then dive again. Finally it came up and they got the net under it. As soon as they did, the hook fell right out.
“We just looked at the fish, then looked at each other and laughed,” the 32-year-old Gagnard said. “It’s a miracle I got it in because the hook was just hanging on the side of her mouth, not even past the barb.”
Night time is the right time
This time of year with it being so hot, the only time to catch big bass is at night, he said. Big bass pull up in the tops that are holding bream and feed, then pull back off to other spots to hold.
There was almost another chapter to the story. About 4:30 that same morning, he hooked another giant that never slowed down and broke his line at the reel. There’s no telling how big it was, he said.
Gagnard almost exclusively guides for crappie, but he does an occasional bass trip, too. You can learn more about him at Elite Guide Service online or on Facebook. You can also follow Holt on his website and Facebook page.