Toledo Bend gives up 10 double-digit bass in eight days

Evan Knapp of Pineville with the 12.53-pound bass he caught on March 2. (Photo courtesy Toledo Bend Lunker Bass Program)

Eight days, 10 lunkers.

That’s pretty good evidence that the bass fishery at Toledo Bend Reservoir is on fire, spitting out big fish at a clip of better than one per day.

The onslaught began with a 10.26-pound fish caught March 1 by Frank Lemoine of Kaplan. It ended on Friday, March 8, with a 12.18-pounder boated by David Miller of Bossier City.

In between were these fish:

  • Zane Parker, Kingswood Tex., 10.60 pounds, March 2;
  • Evan Knapp, Pineville, La., 12.53 pounds, March 2;
  • Carsen Adcock of Haughton, La., 10.70 pounds, March 2;
  • Rick Herbst, Herman, Mo., 10.49 pounds, March 5;
  • John Lalena, Stonewall, La., 12.37 pounds, March 6;
  • Greg Jackson, Port Neches, Tex., 11.73 pounds, March 7;
  • Brett Shattuck, Baton Rouge, La., 11.30 pounds, March 8;
  • Kirk Hood, Donaldsonville, La., 10.28 pounds, March 8;

“They’re going nuts,” said Miller, who caught the 30th fish to qualify for the Toledo Bend Lunker Bass Program in the 2023-24 season. “This is probably the best year to have a chance at beating that 15-pound bass from last year.”

Miller was referring to the lake-record 15.67-pound giant landed on Feb. 11, 2023, by Bill Cook of Houston, Texas, and he should know; he caught a 10.07-pound fish last March 25 that qualified for the TBLP, which offers a free replica mount of every fish 10 pounds or better weighed at one of a handful of designated locations.

And one that got away

Knapp’s 12.53-pound bruiser was the biggest of the biggest week this year. He caught the fish in 18 feet of water at 1:45 p.m., and he said he had one hooked that would have been about the same size an hour or so later — but  after a good fight, it broke the wire on the Alabama Rig he was fishing.

Knapp said he “chased” the 12-pound brute as she swam back and forth between a grass line and a downed tree that was laying in a ditch in a mid-lake area he fishes regularly. He found the fish on his LiveScope, leading a pod of four enormous fish that were swimming along, separated by about 30 yards from the first to the last.

“I chased her for 30 minutes before making a cast,” Knapp said. “She was going back and forth, from the log to the edge of the grass. The last time, she went back to the tree, and she sat still. I had to move to a different angle to make a cast, but when I threw, she nosed up and destroyed it.”

What he used

Fishing a 7-foot-11, extra-heavy action Dobbins rod mated with a Lew’s reel spooled with 15-pound Seaguar Red Label line, Knapp said it was all he could do to handle the fish.

“As soon as she hit, I set the hook, and man, the tip of the rod was about bent to my reel,” he said. “I knew she was big on the LiveScope, and when she started digging, I started reeling on her, and she started pulling drag. I knocked off the drag and started giving her some slack, and she started giving up and came to the surface. Then, she went back down.

“When we got her in the net, she had three different hooks on the Alabama Rig in her mouth. I had to fizz her, and then we went straight to Buckeye (Landing).”

Knapp got the fish weighed on certified scales, measured, tagged and released, and he told the people at Buckeye that he’d be back. He ran back to his spot, and the other three big fish were still moving between the tree in the ditch and the grass line. He got one of them to bite and fought it for an estimated 2 to 3 minutes, before one of the wires on the Alabama Rig broke and the fish escaped.

“She felt just as big as the first fish. They were all sitting on that tree,” he said. “After that, they swam off, and I decided I’d better leave them alone. I’m going to fish the Louisiana Oil Man’s tournament in April, and there will be a lot of big fish in that hole.

Let me try this

The week’s second-heaviest fish, Lalena’s, came from a mid-lake point in 4 or 5 feet of water, hit a white ChatterBait he was fishing because, well, he didn’t have a white spinnerbait, and his partner, Bobby Salinas of Bossier City, caught a fish on one almost immediately after they pulled up to fish the point at about 11 a.m.

“Me and my son share this boat, and as soon as we pulled up, (Bobby) caught a fish on a white spinnerbait,” Lalena said. “I didn’t have one, so I opened the rod box, and my son had a white ChatterBait tied on one rod. I said, ‘This ought to work.’

“I caught a 13-inch fish on about the fifth cast, and I caught the big fish about 30 or 40 minutes later. I just threw out there; I didn’t see her. If she was on a bed, I couldn’t tell. We were going parallel down the point, and when I cast, I probably cranked on the reel two times, and it stopped. I kept the line tight, and she started swimming off. I set the hook, and she made a little run. I saw a flash, and I thought she was a 5- or 6-pounder, but then she came up pretty good and jumped halfway out of the water.

“After that, we acted like two monkeys on a football. He couldn’t get the rod box open to get the net out, so when I finally got her by the boat, he got both fists in her mouth, side by side, and pulled her in. I couldn’t believe how long she was. He was lifting her out of the water, and she just kept coming out.”

A new personal best

John Lalena of Stonewall (left) holds the 12.37-pound Toledo Bend lunker he caught on March 6. His buddy, Bobby Salinas, grabbed the bass to get it into the boat.

Lalena’s huge fish, caught on a Kistler rod and Lew’s reel spooled with 17-pound Seaguar fluorocarbon, was 26 inches long and 22 inches in girth.

“I knew she was 10, but I didn’t know she was that big,” Lalena said. “My scales in the boat said 12.45 pounds, and she was 12.37 on certified scales. I put her in the livewell, and I was shaking pretty good. I’ve never caught a fish like that. My previous best was 8 ½ pounds. I was pretty excited.”

Lalena and Salinas didn’t fish long before heading to Living the Dream Guide Service and Marina to get the fish weighed.

“We left and got out of there,” he said, “because we were practicing for a tournament on Saturday.

“She was just on a hard bottom point, probably staging. The water temperature was 70 that day, and I guess the big ones are moving up; that’s why so many are being caught.”

Lalena’s excitement wasn’t quite over.

“A lady (with TBLP) called me an hour later and said that when they went to tag (my fish) and release her, they found she was already tagged. She had been caught in February 2023, and she weighed about 2 pounds less that day than on the day I caught her.”

Monster chasing shad

Miller’s huge fish, caught at 5:42 p.m. on March 8, ended the week-long big-bass blitz. He caught the fish “schooling” with other fish, chasing shad in 5 feet of water over hydrilla in a mid-lake area — the same place he caught his 10.07-pound fish in 2023.

“She came up with some other fish, chasing shad in shallow water,” he said. “I saw her go after a shad that was about 6 or 8 inches long; that’s how I saw her.”

On March 8, David Miller of Bossier City caught this 12.18 pounder.

Fishing a Texas-rigged Senko (watermelon/chartreuse with gold glitter) with no weight, Miller immediately sat down and retied the 30-pound Power Pro braid spooled on his reel, part of a Lew’s Hack Attack spinning combo — the same outfit he was using when he caught the double-digit fish last March 25.

“I saw her, retied, and I made the first cast right to where she had jumped,” Miller said. “I let it sink a little, and she crushed it. She took off like a bat out of hell. I was going to tighten the drag down, but it was already tight.

“She made a good run of about 30 to 40 feet; it’s a good thing she didn’t bury up in the hydrilla with me fishing spinning tackle. She started to come up, and I thought she was going to start jumping, but she just rolled over on her side and let me lip her. I saw she was hooked good — had it right in the nose — and I lipped her.”

Getting the fish weighed

Miller headed to Keith’s Toledo Bend Tackle to get the fish weighed on certified scales and measured — it was 25 inches long — then he got to watch it get tagged and released.

“Her tail wasn’t pink at all,” he said, guessing that the fish wasn’t anywhere near ready to spawn. “Last year, the one I caught had her tail all torn up.”

This 10.26-pound bass was caught March 1 by Frank Lemoine of Kaplan. (Photo courtesy Toledo Bend Lunker Bass Program)
Zane Parker of Kingswood, Tex., holds the 10.60-pound bass he caught on March 2. (Photo courtesy Toledo Bend Lunker Bass Program)
Carsen Adcock of Haughton with the 10.70-pound Toledo Bend bass he caught March 2. (Photo courtesy Toledo Bend Lunker Bass Program)
Rick Herbst, Herman, Mo., got this 10.49-pound Toledo Bend bass on March 5. (Photo courtesy Toledo Bend Lunker Bass Program)
On March 7, Greg Jackson of Port Neches, Tex., was fishing at Toledo Bend when he caught this bass that weighed 11.73 pounds. (Photo courtesy Toledo Bend Lunker Bass Program)
Baton Rouge’s Brett Shattuck holds the 11.30-pound bass he caught March 8 at Toledo Bend. (Photo courtesy Toledo Bend Lunker Bass Program)
Kirk Hood of Donaldsonville got this Toledo Bend lunker that weighed 10.28 pounds on March 8. (Photo courtesy Toledo Bend Lunker Bass Program)