Pineville man boats Toledo Bend lunker

Gaven Shelton of Pineville had hardly gotten his casting hand warmed up last Saturday, March 13, when he found himself in the battle of a lifetime with a huge Toledo Bend bass.

Fishing in a Bass Busterz Bass Club tournament with partner Casey Clark of Pineville, it took Shelton 10 casts to hook up and boat a 11.3-pound, 25 1/2-inch long largemouth in the San Patricio area.

“It was just after 7 in the morning; we got a little bit of a late start,” said Shelton, 27. “It was probably my 10th cast, early. I threw on a laydown, and she picked it up and ran off with it.”

The big catch

Shelton was fishing a jig tied by his step-father, William Spurgeon, black/blue with a craw trailer, on a GLoomis GLX rod and Quantum Smoke reel spooled with 25-pound Seaguar fluorocarbon.

“The laydown was pretty much laying down vertically to the boat, and I threw in there and ran it down the left side. I was letting it drag across the bottom and picking it up there and there,” Shelton said. “When I got to the first little root or something, I pulled it over and let it sit. As soon as I moved it, she hit it; she just picked it up like she was moving it. She was in about 3 feet of water. Maybe she was on the bed; I don’t know.

“I set the hook, and I looked at Casey and told him this would probably be a good one. Then, she started taking drag, and I told Casey he might want to get the net. She came to the surface, and after I saw how big she was, I held off a little and just let her wear herself out. Casey got the net ready and I led her into it. It was a perfect performance by the net man.

“After we got it in the boat, we put her in the livewell and realized she was too big for the livewell. This was my first big fish at Toledo Bend, so we sat down and just about went into panic mode.”

A winning fish

Shelton weighed the bass on a set of scales that Clark had, and it pulled to 12 pounds.

“I couldn’t believe it: I saw we needed to get a second opinion. I wanted to make sure before we cranked up and headed to Tackle Town to weigh it. We called some other guys in the club, and one of them, Chris Emerson, had a digital scale. We got 11.3 on his scale, and we stuck her in his livewell for the day. He has a nice Skeeter; the livewell was plenty big.”

When weigh-in time arrived, Shelton retrieved his big bass from Emerson’s livewell, and he and Clark weighed in with a winning 5-bass limit at 24.12 pounds. Shelton had the biggest individual catch, four fish that weighed 21.58, and of course, he won for big fish. He got certification and entered the fish in the Toledo Bend Lake Association’s Lunker Bass program. The fish was released back into the lake.

“We had made a couple of calls to guys in the club to see what to do,” Shelton said. “When we got to the weigh-in, a few guys knew I had a big one.”