There’s something about mid-October bass fishing at Toledo Bend that brings out good fortune, or luck, for Ben Suit.
For starters, let’s look back to Oct. 11, 2020, Day 3 of the Sealy Outdoors Big Bass Splash, when the New Iberia native weighed a 4.00-pound bass. That bass was the first 4-pound even fish of the day and worth a $5,000 special prize, plus $350 for finishing 11th.
Now, fast-forward to Oct. 16, 2022, Day 2 of the two-day New Iberia-based Louisiana Bass Cats tournament at Toledo Bend. Suit, who recently moved to Texas to open his State Farm Agency, was trying to help his father, Kevin Suit of New Iberia, clinch the LBC’s Angler of the Year.
But in doing so, he also helped himself to his personal best largemouth, a 10.75 pound lunker. The younger Suit’s bass propelled him to a first place finish in the tournament, and his father won AOY.
They were trailing the first-day leaders by a few pounds and coping with another slow start on the second day while fishing grass beds in Housen Bay. With one keeper in the livewell at 9 a.m., the father-and-son team made a move to another point and picked up two keepers.
Another lull set in. Kevin suggested moving to a stretch that failed to produce a day earlier but had in practice. Ben was thinking of doing just that, too.
“I said, ‘Let’s go. What’s the worst that can happen?’” Ben said.
A good decision
Well, the best happened. After Ben inexplicably had two buzz baits break off on braided line while casting, he tied on another buzz bait and cast it far. The retrieve was suddenly interrupted rudely by a big bass.
“It might have been my fifth cast when that big sucker bit that buzz bait,” he said. “It just slurped it down. It was so big it sounded like a toilet flush. So I set the hook, looked at dad and said, ‘It’s a big fish!’ Then it comes up and it couldn’t get out of the water with its jump. So, I was like, ‘This is a giant fish, dad. We’ve got to get this one,’ ” Ben said, noting they don’t believe in using landing nets. “Dad got into position to use the ‘Suit net’ (his hands). She tried to make another run. Kevin got his hand in that big ol’ mouth, put a death grip on her and wrassled her into the boat.”
“Nobody panicked,” his father said. “When the fish came by the boat I grabbed her by the jaw and put her in the ’well.”
The size of the bass wowed them.
“We were pretty excited, obviously,” Ben said. “So, we kind of whooped and hollered, celebrated a little bit. It took a while for the hair on my arms to lay back down … I guess from all the adrenalin.
“We didn’t know how big it was. We just threw it in the livewell. We knew it was a big one. That was pretty much our day. We might have culled once or twice but didn’t get another bite after that.”
Star of the weigh-in
At the weigh-in at Bridge Bay Resort, the bass club’s digital scale read 10.75, which along with the other four bass gave them 19-plus pounds for a two-day total of 30.50 pounds to complete the comeback. They finished a few pounds ahead of first-day leaders Jacob Shoopman and Zach Suit, both of New Iberia. Zach is Ben’s brother.
“Well, winning the tournament didn’t feel as big a deal as having that fish,” Ben said. “I think at the end of the day nobody remembers who won the tournament, but they’ll remember the giant fish that got to the weigh-in.”
“It was exciting, I tell you that,” Kevin said. “It was a beautiful fish. It was a game-changer.”
They then hurried to register the bass at Living the Dream near the lake on Louisiana 6 west of Many. The certified scale there also read 10.75, qualifying the fish for the Toledo Bend Lunker Bass Program. He’ll get a free mount and the bass was able to swim free after its release in the creek behind Living the Dream.
“That’s why you go to Toledo Bend, for an experience like that. It’s not every day something like that happens in the Basin (Atchafalaya Basin). That’s why we go … literally one cast away from catching a giant at any point,” Ben said.