When Cody Vincent of Lake Charles pulled a huge bass out of Toledo Bend Reservoir on April 6, a tag sticking out of the fish’s back got him to take a closer look.
“My scales were off. The first time I weighed him, it said 9-8 (9 pounds, 8 ounces),” Vincent said. “But I saw the small tag and I said to myself, ‘He’s got to be bigger than that.’”
Vincent recognized the tag as the kind that double-digit bass receive when they are certified into the Toledo Bend Lunker Program, after they’re weighed and measured and before they’re released back into the lake. So he knew the fish had, at one point, weighed more than 10 pounds.
“I have a set of back-up scales, and I never use them except on big fish, so after I put her in the livewell to calm her down, I waited about 15 minutes, and the scales read 10.44 (pounds),” he said.
So Vincent headed to Buckeye Landing, where he weighed in a 10.88-pound fish last Nov. 12, and a 10.19-pound fish on March 14. Staff at Buckeye weighed this fish at 10.44, matching Vincent’s scale reading.
“The guy who weighed my fish looked at the tag, and he checked his paperwork to see if he had tagged this fish,” he said. “He said it was tag 0845, and he said I’d caught the same fish back in November.
“I didn’t realize it was the same fish, because she didn’t weigh as much, but I knew she had a tag.”
So what are the chances that, on a 185,000-acre reservoir like Toledo Bend, an angler catches the same fish twice, almost five months apart? What are the chances that fish is a 10-pounder?
If those odds sound long, consider this. Vincent caught the fish in November in Six Mile Creek about a 12-mile ride from Buckeye Landing. And he caught the fish in April about 200 yards from the spot where he caught it in November. In about 150 days, the fish had moved 12 miles back to familiar surroundings.
So much for bass acting like homing pigeons. Vincent’s fish was the first among 30 that qualified for the Toledo Bend Lunker program during the 2021-22 season that had been caught and tagged before.
A good run
“This is the best run of big fish in my life,” said Vincent, who caught the fish on a chartreuse, 6th Sense C15 crankbait. “In the last 6 months, I’ve caught those three big fish, a couple more 8-pounders, about 10 7-pounders, and I don’t know how many 5s and 6 s. On that same spot, I had caught three 5½-pounders right before that.”
Vincent said the spot he was fishing was about 50 yards off the bank, around brush on the end of a flat where the water drops from 15 to 24 feet. He believes that the bass had already spawned out, which accounts for its drop in weight between the November and April landings.
“Its tail was red, and there were a couple of scratches on it,” he said. “The belly was still big, but from the weight, I figure she had spawned out and was just starting to feed again.”
The lunker program on Toledo Bend is having a good year, already surpassing the total of 25 entrants submitted for the 2020-21 season.