Toledo Bend spits out three double-digit largemouths

Bernard Fruge’ of Noble with his monster 12.35-pound bass caught at Toledo Bend on Aug. 21.
Bernard Fruge’ of Noble with his monster 12.35-pound bass caught at Toledo Bend on Aug. 21.

Two lunkers on the same day, two for the same fisherman

Yeah, August is supposed to be a month that a lot of bass fishermen would like to forget. It’s hell-hot, fish are sluggish and mostly deep, and sometimes, it doesn’t even seem like fun.

Of course, don’t count Bernard Fruge and Sean Page among those disgusted with the weather and the action. They struck it rich on Toledo Bend Reservoir.

Fruge, from Noble got it started with an 11.43-pound monster on Aug. 1, caught in the San Miguel area. Then, Page showed up early in the evening of Aug. 21 with a 10.59-pound bunker. Just to prove his first fish was no fluke, Fruge, later that evening, weighed in a 12.35-pound brute caught about 400 yards from his first double-digit hoss.

“I didn’t think I would ever catch another one like that,” said Fruge, who started fishing the evening of Aug. 21 around 7 o’clock, in a tournament out of Big Bass Marina, with no thought of matching or even coming close to his big fish of Aug. 1.

Both big fish came off brush piles; both were caught with Texas-rigged Zoom Ol’ Monster worms in the South African Special color.

“Everything was the same about the second one as the first one except the first one came from about 12 or 13 feet of water, and they were on different brush,” he said. “But both ledges the brush was on were set up exactly the same way.”

Bernard Fruge with the 11.43-pound fish he caught at Toledo Bend three weeks before he caught the 12.35 pounder.

And the second one, well, it was worth a little money.

Tournament trophy

Fruge was fishing a tournament with his nephew, Bryan Frey. He put in and ran a little more than 15 minutes to the San Miguel area, to a place where he’d caught several big fish. They arrived at 6:14, then “sat around shooting the breeze waiting for fishing time to begin,” he said.

“My nephew said we needed a 10-pounder,” Furge said. “I said, ‘I’ve already caught the fish of my life; I’ll never beat that.’”

When fishing time arrived, Fruge caught a 2-pound fish very quickly, then a couple of shorts. He moved a little ways to a spot that had been good to him, caught a 3-pounder, then another short fish.

“We kept hearing a big fish hit the top, two or three times, and we fished over to that spot; there was a gap between two brush piles,” he said. “The first cast to the second brush, I felt one hard thump, then, the line went tight, and I set the hook.

“She got hung up in the brush, and I put the trolling motor on high and went around to the other side of the brush and got her out, real easy, then she started ripping drag. I thought it was a big fish, and we were right on top of here. I started easing her up, and she came right on up and jumped, and my nephew caught her in the air with the net. He said, ‘That’s a 10-pounder.’

The official weigh-in

“I said I thought she looked bigger than the other, and on my scale, it said 11.9, 12.1. We put her in the livewell and called Buckeye Landing, and I said I was coming in with another big one. They were ready when I pulled up, and she weighs 12.35. When I put her back in the livewell, I looked at her and said, ‘This is not real.’ I looked at her three times.

“I kept opening the livewell; I couldn’t believe I had caught one bigger than the first one. My mind had been made up. I knew I would never catch another one that big, never beat my personal best.

“After I got her certified (with the Toledo Bend Lunker Bass Program), we released her, and we decided not to run all the way back (to San Miguel). We just fished local, and I caught another 5-pounder. We ended up with 23.85 (pounds) and won everything: $880 for the tournament and $210 for the big fish.”

Fruge caught both his big fish using a Dobbins rod and a Lew’s reel spooled with 20-pound Seaguar fluorocarbon. The bigger one was 25 1/4 inches long and 21 inches in girth.

Sean Page

Page, from Hemphill, Texas, beat Fruge to the scales by about two hours, bringing his Aug. 21 lunker in around 7:30 that evening on a trip with Michael Brazil, also of Hemphill.

Sean Page of Hemphill, Tex., with his 10.59-pound bass caught Aug. 21 at Toledo Bend.

“We were fishing in the Indiana Mounds area, about 7:30 that evening. We had gone out for about two hours and come back to this spot,” he said. “We headed out first and picked a spot I’d been catching fish on. Right off the bat, he caught a 6, and I caught a 5. Then, they quit biting. We fished about an hour-and-a-half, went to some more spots and came back to that first one. We were about to leave, and I said, ‘I’m making one last cast and catching a 10-pounder.’

“I felt her and I set the hook and knew it was a big fish. I said, ‘Here’s my 10-pounder,’ but he thought I was kidding. He didn’t pay any attention. Then, she champ and jumped, and he saw her and freaked out.

“When I set the hook, she came straight up out of the brush, came right on out. It was almost easy. Michael lipped her and put her in the boat. I’ve caught a bunch of 8s and 9s, but there was no question this was the biggest fish I’d ever had on. It was exciting, to say the least.”

Bait

Page was fishing a Texas-rigged Zoom Ol’Monster worm, also in the South African Special color, on a Falcon rod and Shimano reel spooled with Saguaro Black Label fluorocarbon. The fish came off a brush pile in 15 feet of water.

“It was a little hump out in the middle of the lake that I’d put some brush on, and for that particular two-week period, they were on that spot good,” he said.

Page headed to Toledo Town & Tackle, where the official scales put his monster at 10.59 pounds.

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