West Monroe younster lands whopper bass at Toledo Bend

Hinton Carroll, 11, of West Monroe hooked this 11.79-pound lunker bass while fishing at Toledo Bend on Jan. 27. (Photo courtesy Toledo Bend Lunker Bass Program)

Is bass-fishing all downhill from here on for 11-year-old Hinton Carroll of West Monroe, who caught an 11.79-pound largemouth this past Saturday, Jan. 27, at Toledo Bend Reservoir?

Not according to Carroll.

“I want to catch a 12,” he said.

Carroll, a sixth-grader at West Ridge Middle School in West Monroe, was fishing with partner Nate Sylvestri and boat captain Nick Sylvestri, practicing for a Louisiana Junior State Championship qualifier the next day.

About 11:30 that morning, fishing midway back in Housen Bay, Carroll was casting a Flash Mob Junior Alabama rig around cypress trees along a hydrilla line. He saw a huge bass rise, mouth wide open, to take the lure.

“I saw her come up and eat it; it was very cool to see that,” Carroll said. “I just set the hook. She was pretty heavy, bigger than I thought, but she didn’t fight as hard as I thought she was. When she tried to jump out of the water, all she could do was break the surface.

“My fishing partner, he started going crazy.”

Getting the bass weighed

Nick Sylvestri lipped the huge bass and put it on a set of portable scales he had in the boat; the fish weighed 11-14. They took the bass quickly to Keith’s Toledo Bend Tackle, where the bass weighed 11.79 pounds on certified scales and taped out at 25 ½ inches long and 20 inches in girth.

“The first words out of his mouth when we got her to the place we weighed her was that he wanted to let her live,” said Lee Carroll, Hinton’s father, who was fishing with his brother-in-law directly across the lake from his son.

The bass was the first in 2024 to qualify for the Toledo Bend Lunker Bass Program, and the 12th overall for the 2023-24 season, which started last June. Carroll’s previous big bass was a 6-pound, 12-ounce bass he caught from a private pond.

The Alabama rig Carroll used to catch the huge fish was rigged with two ⅛-ounce jigs on the bottom two wires, a 3/16-ounce jig on the middle wire and the upper two wires. All carried 3.3-inch Googan swim baits, white with silver flake.

Had Carroll caught the big bass a day later, his tournament would have definitely wound up on a higher note. He and Sylvestri finished fourth with a 5-fish limit that weighed 12 pounds, 7 ounces.