Texas man snakes big bass out of Toledo Bend

Elmer Ernst caught a great bass last Friday, March 26, 2021, in the Indian Creek area of Toledo Bend Reservoir. He also caught a little water snake.

The two were a package deal. He just doesn’t know how or when the package became unwrapped.

Ernst, a 65-year-old retiree from Orange, Texas, stuck the big fish, 10.13 pounds, 24 3/4 inches long and 18 3/4 inches in girth, on a wacky rigged chartreuse/watermelon Senko just after 7 p.m., fishing with his son, Brad.

“We had been fishing for 1 1/2 hours, had caught a couple of fish, and we were heading back to Indian Creek; I’ve got a camp on Indian Creek,” Ernst said. “We were out on a little point next to an island, and I threw up next to a stump. I thought I was hung up, but then he shook his head, and I said, ‘Get the net.’ He went up under the boat, and I thought he was gonna break off.”

But his son got the big bass in the net, and when they examined it more closely, Ernst discovered a hitchhiker of sorts.

“The fish had a snake in the bottom of its throat, a little snake, about 12 inches long,” Ernst said.

Ernst put the fish on a set of scales he had in his boat, and the scales read 9.97 pounds.

“That was too close, I knew I had to get him weighed on certified scales,” he said. “After that, the biggest problem was getting him weighed that time of night.”

Weighing the lunker

Ernst got back to his camp, got the fish in a cooler and headed to Fins & Feathers to get the fish weighed on certified scales. He got there about 10 minutes after it closed, but, as Ernst said, “They had waited for us.”

On certified scales, the fish weighed 10.13 pounds, qualifying for the Toledo Bend Lake Association’s lunker program, which provides a replica mount to fishermen who catch double-digit bass and subsequently release them.

But what about the snake?

Well, Ernst doesn’t know.

“When we were releasing it, the snake was gone,” Ernst said. “I don’t know if he swallowed it or what. When we got him out to weigh him, the snake wasn’t in the tank, and when we got him out to release him, he wasn’t in there. Maybe he swallowed him.”

Ernst said the fish, the biggest he’s ever caught, carried an old tag from the lunker program — the fish had been caught before and logged into the program’s records.

“It was a couple of years old,” he said.

Ernst said he couldn’t tell for sure whether the big bass had already spawned.

“She didn’t have a bloody tail; it was just worn a little bit. She wasn’t fat with eggs. It was hard to tell. The main thing was, she was 10 pounds.

“As we were going down to the ramp to release her, this guy was there, backing his boat down. He asked, ‘What are you doing?’ I told him we were letting a big fish go. He asked, ‘Can I hold it?’”

Ernst handed the man the fish, he lifted it, then put it in the water and released it.

The snake was still missing in action.