Lafayette man boats double-digit bass in Lake Chicot “dogfight”

Derek McCauley of Lafayette caught this 10-pound, 5 ½-ounce bass on April 16 during a Tuesday evening “dogfight” tournament on Lake Chicot.

Boy, what would she have weighed a month ago?

That’s one thing that Derek McCauley of Lafayette is wondering after landing a huge bass on April 16 in a Tuesday evening “dogfight” tournament on Lake Chicot.

The 25-inch-long bass – its flat belly and healed tail screaming “post-spawn” – weighed 10 pounds, 5 ½ ounces after McCauley pulled her out of a cypress tree around 7:30 that night – an hour before weigh-in.

“She probably would have weighed 12, 12½ pounds,” he guessed.

But that 10-5½ was plenty. McCauley’s catch was big fish of the tournament, and the 14-pound total for three fish that he and his father, Matt, weighed in were enough to win the entire tournament.

Lake Chicot, a 2,000-acre reservoir in Chicot State Park near Ville Platte in south-central Louisiana, isn’t known for producing double-digit bass like some of its neighbors to the west and north. That made McCauley’s life-best fish even more amazing.

That he caught it on 10-pound test line just doubled that amazement.

McCauley was fishing a watermelon-red Senko, wacky rigged, on a 7-foot Lew’s rod and Lew’s reel spooled with 10-pound line. He caught her when he pitched the bait past the tree, in 4½ feet of water, and worked it back toward the trunk.

“That’s when she took it,” McCauley said. “I noticed my line moving steadily to the right, and when I set the hook, it felt like I was stuck in a log.”

Then, things got crazy.

McCauley used a watermelon-red Senko, wacky rigged, to catch his Lake Chicot 10-pounder.

A big battle

The big bass put up a fight that lasted close to 3 minutes, jumping twice before trying to break McCauley off around another cypress tree.

“I was yelling at my dad, yelling, “Giant, giant, giant! Get the net!” McCauley said. “This other guy showed up after I had caught the fish. He thought something was wrong because we were yelling so much.

“When she came up with her mouth open, I’d never seen anything that big,” he said. “She came out of the water three times, and she was pulling drag. I only had 10-pound test, so I had to be careful. I couldn’t really control her. She was about to wrap me around another tree, so I took a chance and put my thumb down on the reel to stop her from taking anymore drag. I stopped her and turned her. She jumped one more time and came up, and my dad netted her. It took about 25 or 30 seconds after I put my thumb on the reel.”

“I was in shock,” said McCauley, who had the bass firmly hooked at the base of her tongue. “I didn’t want to fish anymore; I knew we had won, but my dad said we had to, so we fished about another 30 minutes before we went in.”

The fish had obviously finished spawning some time earlier, said McCauley, who described her as having a flat belly and no bulge indicating an egg mass. At the weigh-in, he measured her at 25 inches but didn’t get a girth measurement.