Fall was only a couple of days away when Toledo Bend spit out a couple of huge largemouth bass – caught on decidedly summertime places.
On Tuesday, Sept. 18, Zach Oswald of Shelbyville, Texas, landed an 11.03-pound lunker on a deep, main-lake ledge, and two days later, Jason Webre of Vacherie, La., boated a 10.09-pound brute while fishing a main-lake ledge at night.
The two fish, the eighth and ninth to qualify for the Toledo Bend Lunker Bass Program during the 2023-24 lunker season, were connected to catches from earlier in the year. Oswald’s fish weighed 12.14 pounds when it was caught April 13 by Walter Pennington and qualified for the lunker program. When he caught his big fish, Webre was fishing with Bernard Fruge, who qualified for the lunker program with a 10.80-pound fish caught June 24.
Oswald caught his bass on a green-pumpkin ¾-ounce Stanley football jig and a green-pumpkin split-tail plastic trailer. The fish was on a deep, main-lake ledge about 4 miles north of the Texas 21 bridge at mid-lake.
“He was down in a brush top off the ledge; I caught him out of the brush at about 10 a.m.,” Oswald said. “I got a late start, and it was the first place I stopped. My brother-in-law said there might be some fish there. I fished an hour-and-a-half before I got the first bite. I caught a 4 ½ pounder before I caught the big one. When I caught the first one, I hit the spot-lock (so the trolling motor would hold him over the spot). I caught him about two casts later.
A surprise for Oswald
Oswald cast to the brush top and felt what he thought might be a bream bite – a series of pecks.
“Then, I saw the line moving to the right,” he said, and he set the hook. “She came up about 8 feet from the boat. She tried to come up, then she dove down. When she came up, I wasn’t sure how big she was. I was fishing by myself, and I got her back up to the boat, lipped her and put her straight in the livewell.”
Oswald didn’t have a set of scales in his boat, but when he face-timed his brother-in-law and another fishing buddy, both said he needed to get the fish weighed on certified scales.
“I tried one other brush top, then I went straight to Holly Park (Marina) to get her weighed,” he said.
At the marina, Miles McDaniel put the fish on the scales; it weighed 11.03 pounds. He measured it – 25 ⅜ inches long and 20 ⅛ inches in girth – then released alive.
“The guy who caught it before (Pennington), he told me he caught her 7 miles from where I caught her; he caught her in 1 ½ feet of water on a Super Fluke,” Oswald said.
Webre strikes gold
Webre struck about 2 ½ days later, on an after-dark trip with Fruge.
“I was going by myself, and I called Bernard and told him I’d be on the lake, and he was welcome to join me,” Webre said. “He said he’d be there before dark. When we fish at night, I let him run the trolling motor and everything.
“The first spot we stopped, he caught a 7(-pounder). Then, it started to drizzle, and I said, ‘This might be a big-fish night.’ Then he caught a 6, and I caught a 6. Next, we moved to another place that we don’t fish as much.
“I was fishing in 10 to 12 feet of water, and when I made a cast, it didn’t feel right. When I set the hook, she started pulling drag. Bernard saw her jump, and he said it was a monster.”
Webre was fishing a Texas-rigged Zoom Ol’ Monster worm in South Africa Special, and he had the fish in the boat quickly.
“When we got him in the boat, Bernard said he was 11 (pounds). I said, ‘No way,’ but when we weighed him in the boat, he was 10.11,” Webre said. “As soon as we put him in the boat, we went straight to the scales.”
At the scales
At Holly Park Marina, the fish weighed 10.09 pounds on certified scales at 25 ¼ inches long and 19 inches in girth.
“She was just out in the open, just a random fish out in the open; a lot of these big fish, we catch like that,” Webre said. “They’re either on brush or on an edge by themselves.”
After the big fish was released, Fruge and Webre went back to fishing and finished out there limit by 10 p.m. with another 7-pounder. They finished up by 11 p.m.
“Bernard had to work the next day, and we had 38 pounds by 11,” Webre said. “The smallest one was 3 ½ pounds.”