With just about 30 minutes left to fish in the annual 24-hour-long Majestic Bass Tournament marathon on Lake D’Arbonne last weekend, Billy Banks landed something to take to the scales that woke up everybody at daybreak quicker than a 16-ounce cup of dark roast caramel Macchiato.
It was a 9.45-pound largemouth that claimed the $1,500 first prize against almost 200 other anglers fishing for hourly and overall prizes. Banks weighed in the big one with just minutes to spare at the end of the 24 hour event. It blew away the rest of the field that were catching mostly 5-6 pounders that are more common this time of year. To catch one almost 10 pounds is almost unheard of in the hot summer months, tournament director Dale Taylor said.
“We had just made a move to a new area with some docks that had big lights by them to fish the final hour,” Banks said. “There was a fisherman by one of them, but he left. When he did, we eased up in there and my son Wesley decided to stop and change baits. I moved up front and tossed my big red plastic worm up in the brush pile and the fish nearly took the rod out of my hand,” Banks said. “I yelled for him to ‘get the net… this is the one.’”
He landed the fish about 5:15 a.m. just as the first light of day was peaking over the Eastern treeline. Catching the big fish was special because he knew it was the winner, but also because of the time he got to fish with his son, who is one of the top anglers on the University of Louisiana Monroe bass fishing team.
“I remember not long ago when Billy Banks sat in the back of the boat and coached his son Wesley to a great finish in the Majestic,” Taylor said. “Things came full circle this morning when Billy, fishing with Wesley, pulled that beautiful 9.45-pound bass out of D’Arbonne for the Big Bass win.”
Banks’ catch was three pounds bigger than runner-up Frank Henry’s 6.25 and Daniel Taylor’s 6.00. The younger Taylor, Dale’s grandson, did win the “stringer challenge” with five bass weighing 23.32 followed by Henry with 21.76, all good weights for this time of year.
The Taylors spent countless hours chasing bass together the past few years and that family story line played out more than once in this tourney.
The younger Taylor said the daytime fishing was slow, so he went in and took a late afternoon nap and to hit it hard at night. His success came around lights on the lake’s bank where fish would stage in deep water and move up under the light to feed. He caught his biggest fish on a 10-inch black and red flake worm.
“On D’Arbonne, under the lights, it basically becomes a food-chain type bite,” he said. “First insects and baitfish start to come up under the light, then small fish feed on them, then the big fish follow and feed on the little fish.”