The weather might not have been kind to Toledo Bend bass fishermen as spring arrived, but it didn’t stop two of them from adding double-digit largemouths to the Toledo Bend Lunker Program.
Fishing in 20-mph winds, Jewel Hunt of Montgomery, Texas, landed a 10.69-pound monster on March 21, and five days later, Jimmie Box of DeRidder, La., pushed things up a notch by boating a 12.16-pound brute on a tough, bluebird day when it only took two fish to win a club tournament.
The two big bass pushed to 25 the number of double-digit lunkers that have qualified for the Toledo Bend Lunker Program in the 2021-22 season, with about five weeks remaining.
Tough, but worth the trouble
Box, who owns The Tackle Box, a sporting goods store in DeRidder, was fishing a Sportsman Bass Club tournament on March 26 with partner Michael Hickman. They fished all day for just two bites – and both of them came in a 10-minute period beginning at around 7:30 a.m.
“It was a tough day, a bluebird day with a tough bite,” said Box. “We moved to our second spot at about 7:30, and I caught about a 2½-pounder right away, then about 10 minutes later, I got a second bite, and it was the big fish.”
Box was fishing a Texas-rigged Zoom Brush Hog (watermelon red) on a 7-foot-3, medium-heavy action Hammer Rod and an ABU Iaconelli reel spooled with 16-pound Daiwa Samurai braid.
“We started shallow and moved to deeper water, went to a spot we hadn’t fished, at mid-lake,” he said. “We were fishing on the ledge along a creek channel, in about 10 feet of water, where it dropped into 25 feet. I think there might have been a stump right on the drop. I caught the first fish, then, about 10 casts later, I caught the big fish. I felt her, set the hook, and she ran to the left. I pulled her toward us, and she ran out past the boat into 25, 26 feet of water, then I brought her back around to the side we were on, and she dug deep again. I was able to keep tension on her and the drag set right and Michael got her in the boat.
“I knew it was a big bass when I set the hook; it felt like dead weight. When I first set the hook, she came up and I saw her. I couldn’t believe it when I caught her. I’m still in denial.
“We fished another 20 minutes and realized it was way over 10 pounds after we weighed it in the boat, so we left and went to Buckeye (Landing) and weighed it. She was 27 inches long and 20¼ inches in girth.”
The two fish, weighing close to 15 pounds and caught in the mid-lake area, were good enough to give Box and Hickman first place – and of course, big fish – in their club tournament.
“She was still full of eggs, no bloody tail or anything,” said Box. “She was probably getting ready to make her move (to spawn). This is my biggest fish. I’ve caught some over 10, but never a 12. It’s my first Lunker Program fish from Toledo Bend; I’ve gotten close before, but I’ve never broken 10.”
Box was pleased with the huge fish for obvious reasons, but for another, less obvious one. He had elbow surgery in January, suffered through a couple of months of rehab, and had only been able to fish once – several weeks earlier – and he had to give it up because his elbow hurt too much to set the hook. The March 26 tournament was his real return to the water.
Thank heaven for friends
Jewel Hunt and fishing buddy Paul Gaylord have been sharing the same boat for the better part of 60 years – since they were “15 or 16” years old.
On March 21, they were in Gaylord’s boat, fishing some of his spots at mid-lake on the Louisiana side of the lake, and Gaylord was having a pretty good day.
“He had probably caught four or five (bass), and I had caught two dinks,” Hunt said, when the two pulled up to fish the end of a point at about 1 p.m. “We’re old school; we go slow. You have to slow down to catch good fish, and Paul and I have been real patient to catch good fish.
“He was throwing into this little area, maybe six or seven times, and he started fanning a little more with his Carolina rig. I was messing with him, and he was messing with me. He had his rod tip up, and I threw up under his rod tip. We were horsing around, so I threw up under his line and let it sit on the bottom.
“I walked to the stern, and before I got there, I felt the strike. I set the hook while I was walking, and the fish came up and I saw it was a big fish. Paul said, ‘That’s a 6-pounder,’ and I said, ‘No, it’s a giant.’ It went around the boat two times, and the second time, Paul saw it, and he threw his rod down in the boat. The fish went around one more time, and he reached down and grabbed it.”
Creature bait was the ticket
Hunt was fishing a creature bait, watermelon red with some areas dyed with a lure dye, Texas-rigged on an ⅛-ounce tungsten weight. He was fishing a Falcon rod, an ABU-Garcia reel spooled with 14-pound Berkley fluorocarbon.
The big bass, which came out of about 6 feet of water on the side of a long point, was 26½ inches long and 19¾ inches in girth when it was weighed and measured at Buckeye Landing that afternoon.
The bass was Hunt’s first to qualify for the Toledo Bend Lunker Program, but not nearly his personal bass. He had previously caught an 11.8-pounder from Conroe and a 13.2 from the Lakes of Danbury.