Toledo Bend delivers 11-pounders

Haughton’s Brad Watson displays his immense Toledo Bend 11.51-pounder taken in Palo Gaucho March 6 on a black-blue, Texas-rigged, weightless Senko in 3 feet of water. (Photo courtesy of the Toledo Bend Lake Association)
Haughton’s Brad Watson displays his immense Toledo Bend 11.51-pounder taken in Palo Gaucho March 6 on a black-blue, Texas-rigged, weightless Senko in 3 feet of water. (Photo courtesy of the Toledo Bend Lake Association)

The largest Toledo Bend lunkers of the season are beginning to show. Read the stories on how these two anglers battled these huge fish.

Brad Watson

  • Date fish taken: 3/6/2020
  • Angler name: Brad Watson
  • Hometown: Haughton, LA
  • Location where fish taken: Palo Gaucho
  • Depth taken: 3 feet
  • Lure used to catch fish: Black/blue Senko, Texas-rigged, weightless
  • Other tackle used: (rod, reel, line): 7-foot, 3-inch medium-heavy Kistler rod; Abu Garcia Revo reel; 20-pound Seaguar fluorocarbon
  • Certified Weigh station: Keith’s Toledo Bend Tackle
  • Certified bass weight: 11.51 pounds
  • Entry number of bass in the Toledo Bend Lunker Program: 19
  • Tagged and eligible for replica from Toledo Bend Lake Association: Yes

Palo Gaucho behemoth

Haughton’s Brad Watson and his father, Charley, waited at the boat launch March 6 until all boats in a tournament blasted off in every direction on Toledo Bend.

“We didn’t get out on the lake until 9 a.m.,” the 43-year-old angler said.

The anglers arrived in one area that seemed to be somewhat congested with anglers.

“We idled into the area and there were 10 boats around us,” Watson said.

“I told dad that these guys were fishing the Holiday Inn, but I was going to take him to the Hilton.”

Watson knew exactly where he was going. Three years ago, the angler had taken a 9-pounder in an area – a favorite place he wanted to share with his father.

The father and son fishing duo arrived a little later in Palo Gaucho when Charley managed to catch the first bass of the day.

At 9:30, Watson cast a Texas-rigged, black-blue weightless Senko in 3 feet of water.

“At first I felt a tap, then nothing,” Watson said. “Then another tap, and nothing again.

“Then it felt like a fish picked up the lure and I saw the line was moving.”

Watson said it was a pretty quick fight as he was working the bass with heavy tackle.

“She made just one hard run away, but I was able to get her to the net,” he said.

“Dad then netted her.”

Once the huge bass was in the boat, the hook popped out of its jaw.

“The hook was about straightened out, so I was very fortunate I didn’t lose her,” he said.

Watson’s bass was weighed on an onboard scale which pegged the bass’ weight at 11.6 pounds.

“The scale was bouncing around and reading both 11.5 and 11.6 pounds, but it finally settled on 11.6,” Watson said.

“We went back fishing after that,” Watson said.

Finally, the fishing trip ended later with the anglers taking 20 bass caught for the day.

Billy Maricle

  • Date fish taken: 3/15/2020
  • Anglers’ name: Billy Maricle
  • Hometown: Pitkin, LA
  • Location where fish taken: Pirate’s Cove
  • Depth taken: 4 feet
  • Lure used to catch fish: Wacky-style Senko
  • Other tackle used: (rod, reel, line): 6-foot, 5-inch All Star rod; Lew’s reel; 15-pound Seaguar fluorocarbon; 3/0 Gamakatsu red hook
  • Certified Weigh station: Toledo Town and Tackle
  • Certified bass weight: 11.85 pounds
  • Entry number of bass in the Toledo Bend Lunker Program: 28
  • Tagged and eligible for replica from Toledo Bend Lake Association: Yes

Leaping giant

Billy Maricle of Pitkin scored on this leaping giant, a Toledo Bend lunker bass weighing 11.85 pounds taken March 15 in the Pirate’s Cove area. The bass hit his wacky-style Senko in 4 feet of water. (Photo courtesy of the Toledo Bend Lake Association)

Is there any way imaginable that one could even visualize a bass measuring 26 ½ inches in length with a 19-inch girth jumping out of the water some four times?

Difficult to conceive such a scenario – isn’t it?

Well such did indeed happen for Pitkin’s Billy Maricle Sunday, March 15, as he fought such a bass near the shores of Toledo Bend.

The 51-year-old angler spent some morning time fishing to 9 a.m., yet he was experiencing issues with his trolling motor. He caught and released one small bass at that time.

A front came through that same morning, and Maricle later moved to the south of an island in the Pirate’s Cove area to escape the effects of the winds.

Up to 11 a.m., the angler caught 16 bass, eight of which were throw-backs within a 100-yard area.

At 11 however, he got a bite that initially “felt like normal.”

All this time, Maricle had been pitching a Senko – wacky-style in 4 feet of water.

“I set the hook, and the fish made a run, and its whole body came out the water,” he said.

“She came around the boat, and I go to the back – and she jumped out the water three more times.”

Maricle explained that he was easy on the fish, giving her little resistance because he was fishing 15-pound fluorocarbon.

“One time she got up close enough,” he said. “I let go of the rod with one hand to grab my net, and she quickly turns and runs taking 15 more feet of line before she stopped.

“I fought her again and got her back to the boat, and then she goes under.”

At one point, Maricle admitted having both the rod and reel under the water to be sure the fish wouldn’t break off.

“I finally got her to the net,” he said.

Eventually Maricle borrowed a scale from two nearby anglers from Illinois who witnessed the entire ordeal.

Maricle weighed her first on his own scale, but admitted some distrust in it because it hadn’t been used in a while.

“On my scale, the fish weighed 12.01 pounds,” he said. “On the one I borrowed from the two anglers, it weighed 11.96 pounds.”

Maricle then quit fishing and trailered the boat to make the 35-minute drive to Toledo Town and Tackle for an official weight of his prized bass.

On Toledo Town’s certified scale, Maricle’s fish weighed a hefty 11.85 pounds. The fish was measured, tagged and released back into Toledo Bend waters.

It is lunker No. 28 for the 2019-2020 Toledo Bend Lunker Bass Program year – and the heaviest bass entered thus far this spring.

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Chris Berzas
About Chris Berzas 369 Articles
Chris Berzas has fished and hunted in the Bayou State ever since he could hold a rod and shoot a shotgun. Berzas has been a freelancer featured in newspapers, magazines, television and DVDs since 1989.

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