West Pearl River gives up trophy largemouth bass

Ron Hindman of Slidell has been fishing the Northshore of Lake Pontchartrain since 1979. And since then, his biggest bass has been a 6.5-pounder caught in the East Pearl River. But that all changed when Hindman fished a local jelly jar club tournament and managed to catch an 11.376-pound trophy bass fishing the West Pearl River.

Hindman is a member of the Double Nickel Bass Club, an organization of anglers who are 55 years of age or older. The club gathers every Tuesday at the East Pearl River launch on Highway 190, locally referred to as “The Green Bridge.”

Hindman started his morning like any other with no thoughts of catching that big of a lunker.

“I have a flatboat, so I usually pull on the side and let the bass boats go past, then I follow behind,” the 65-year-old said.

He ran through Miller’s Ditch into the West Pearl, which was awfully muddy, he said, but Hindman knew he could find cleaner water coming out of a few drains in the swamp. He started hitting drains and picked up two throwback bass with a ¼-ounce white and lime green spinnerbait. He continued to fish the drains and found one that he was able to slip his boat into.

“The water looked nice back there,” he said. “It was stained but clear enough to fish.”

He whipped his spinnerbait deeper into the cut and his luck started to change. Hindman landed a 4.1-pound bass. After that it went dead, he said.

Fish of a lifetime

Hindman worked his way out of the cut then down the main river and found another trenasse with lots of structure.

“I decided to switch over to a jig because this is the time those bass start feeding on crawfish,” he said.

Hindman used a 7-foot medium-heavy rod with 40-pound Power Pro braid to pitch a black and blue jig with a craw trailer into the cut. He waited for the lure to sink and then went to bump it.

“When I reeled in, the line went tight so I thought I was hung up on a stump,” Hindman said. “I reared back to try and pull it loose and when I did the stump took off!”

The fish made a hard run to the left pulling drag and then turned to the right and made another run.

“The way it was pulling, I thought I had a catfish,” Hindman said.

As the fish neared it jumped about 10 feet away and that’s when Hindman knew it was something special.

“I saw that big mouth come out of that water and everything went into slow motion,” he said.

Luckily the fish was worn out and Hindman was able to keep him sideways on the surface as he pulled it to the boat. With the pole in one hand he reached down and grabbed the fish.

“I couldn’t believe how heavy this thing was,” he said.

Ron Hindman of Slidell caught this 11.376-pound trophy bass fishing the West Pearl River on Jan. 10.

Hindman popped the hook out of its mouth and then placed the 26-inch fish into his 18-inch livewell and was able to make it back to the weigh-in with the fish in good health.

The weigh-in

As most anglers know, word travels fast through a bass club. Hindman experienced it first hand when a group of anglers were anxiously waiting for him at the dock for the weigh-in.

“I only told one guy that I had a big one and somehow that got back to everyone,” he said.

Hindman wanted to weigh-in in order to make sure the fish got back to the river quickly. He pulled the fish out of the bag and after hanging it on the scale, the screen flashed 11.376 pounds. After a few pictures, he was able to return it back into the river where it briskly swam off.

“I’m so thankful to be able to catch a fish like this,” he said. “I feel blessed.”

The Slidell angler has fished Toledo Bend, Lake Seminole, Sam Rayburn, Lake Fork in order to catch a trophy bass, but never dreamed it would come in his own backyard.