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Lake life, Louisiana fishing

A 16 pound bass?

Is there a 16-pound bass in Lake D’Arbonne. Probably.

Is this the best time of the year to catch her.  Definitely.

Will I catch her? No way.

Ed Stellner's lake record

Ed Stellner’s lake record

Big bass. Huge bass. The very thought sends anglers scrambling for their gear, even if it is a better day to sit in front of the fire and watch old Bill Dance reruns on TV. But you won’t catch a monster doing that.
Why 16 pounds? You may not be aware of it, but the Lake D’Arbonne record for largemouth bass is 15.31 pounds. It was caught by Ed Stellner, a tournament fisherman from Onalaska, Wis., while fishing with local fisherman Ross Cagle way back on Feb. 18, 2000. That big fish easily surpassed the old lake record of 13.06 pounds caught by Dr. Tracy Smith of Ruston a few years before.

Stellner caught his bass while spending a couple of days on D’Arbonne before fishing a tournament on the Red River in Shreveport. He caught the fish around a cypress tree on an orange and black Smithwick Rogue. The irony is that when he landed the big fish, she had already spawned, which would have put her at least a pound larger. I might point out that the spring of 200 was quite a bit warmer than the spring of 2014! You can tell that by the short-sleeve shirt that the fisherman is wearing in the photo to the left.

The lunker couldn’t be used by the LDWF for their big bass stocking program because when they age tested the fish, she was over 12 years old — too old to effectively be used. So they returned her to the lake. No doubt, she has passed on by now.

I recall the story that the two had trouble getting the big fish in the boat. Not only was she a load to lift up, you had to do it without getting one of the nine barbed hooks in your finger at the same time. They weighed it on a portable scale which read over 14 pounds, then showed the “ERR” message. They called the LDWF and biologist Mike Wood met them at the landing to certify and weigh the catch. The fish’s mouth was 8 inches across.

By the time the weigh-in was over, there were more than 40 people, including the town’s mayor, gathered around to see the big fish.

This is the time of year to catch whopping big bass. The water temperatures don’t have to be ideal for

Tracy Smith's previous record

Tracy Smith’s previous D’Arbonne record

huge bass to move up into potential spawning areas and they are less likely to move a lot once they do head in for shallower water. But they are not easy to catch. Big baits like jigs with trailers, creature baits and slow-rolling spinnerbaits are top lures. For some reason, the Rogue has also been a great big bass bait. The key this time of year is fish slow. Bass haven’t warmed up that much and with the water still cold, they can’t go very fast. I can relate to that.

If you do catch a monster bass, make sure and let the LDWF know. Take some pictures and get it weighed and back in the lake as soon as possible. The less stress the big bass faces the more chance of survival. It’s the right thing to do.

Louisiana’s Top Ten BASS: Species: BASS, LARGEMOUTH
(Micropterus salmoides)
Rank     Weight     Angler     Where Caught    Date Caught
*1.   15.97 Greg Wiggins    Caney Lake February 1994
*2.   15.87 Regina Womack    Valentine Lake May 2010
*3.   15.82 Adam Oliver    Blk. Bayou Hoosten March 2009
*4.   15.54 Tommy Foster    Caney Lake February 1993
*5.   15.53 Fred Kennedy    Caney Lake October 1993
*6.   15.42 Bryan Smith    Caney Lake March 1993
*7.   15.38 Thomas J. Robertson    B.R. University Lk. June 1992
*8.   15.33 Johnny Harper    Caney Lake July 1996
*9.   15.31 Ed Stellner    Lake D’Arbonne February 2000
*10. 15.15 Chris Roberts    Caney Lake February 1995

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