MANY — Ben Suit of Port Arthur, Texas, drove his recently purchased 2021 Skeeter ZXR21 during the Louisiana Bass Cats’ regular-season finale Oct. 15-16 at Toledo Bend.
Suit took his father, Kevin Suit of New Iberia, along for the ride as his tournament partner before and during the contest that ended with an Angler of the Year title for the elder Suit. And, oh, on Day 2 he escorted a 10.75-pound bass from the lake to weigh-in to getting it registered in the Toledo Bend Lunker Bass Program.
Then Ben, a former New Iberia resident, released his new PB into a creek behind Living the Dream. He’s still on Cloud Nine.
The father-and-son team did more than just rally to win the two-day tournament with 30.50 pounds. The Suits and their monstrous tag-along bass stole the show at the weigh-in on Day 2 at Bridge Bay Resort.
“That’s why you go to Toledo Bend, for an experience like that. It’s not every day something like that happens in the Basin (Atchafalaya Basin). That’s why we go … literally one cast away from catching a giant at any point,” Ben said.
“It was exciting, I tell you that. It was a beautiful fish. It was a game-changer,” Kevin said.
At the weigh-in, word about a big bass spread before it hit the digital scale. Ben enjoyed every moment as bass club members gathered for the moment of truth.
“It’s hard not to be a bragadocious a little bit when something like that’s in your livewell because you want to show something like that. They were pretty excited. You don’t see an 11-pounder every day,” he said.
His dad, who won his first AOY since 1982 in the old Basin Boys Bass Club, was just as thrilled, Ben said, noting, “Aw, he was fired up, excited, proud and happy. You can pick any adjective, I’m sure he was. I think he had every emotion you can think of.”
Their second-day rally came at the expense of Jacob Shoopman of New Iberia and Zach Suit of Denton, Texas, Ben’s brother, who led after Day 1 but finished second with a two-day total of 27.54 pounds.
Mike Hebert and Kevin Williams were third with 21.76 pounds.
The spotlight, though, was on Kevin and Ben.
“Well, winning the tournament didn’t feel as big a deal as having that fish. I think at the end of the day nobody remembers who won the tournament but they’ll remember the giant fish that got to the weigh-in,” Ben said.
He was happy to help his father usher in an AOY. Kevin, lead fishing at Field & Stream in Lafayette, won the bass club’s last three tournaments of 2022.
Ben, who moved to Texas in January to open a State Farm Agency in Orange, said he didn’t feel any extra pressure. They prefished like they usually do here.
“I knew we’d find a way to catch a few fish, nothing great but a consistent bite. We were fishing grass but key areas around grass made some spots better than others, always a good place to get bit,” he said.
Most of the time when they located fish, Ben’s boat, powered by a 250-h.p. Yamaha Sho, was in approximately 8-foot depths. They targeted hydrilla in 3- to 6-foot depths and fished buzz baits, Chatterbaits and Rat-L-Traps.
Their Day 1 limit of 11.30 pounds left the father-son team in third place behind first-day leaders Shoopman and Zach Suit, who moved last year to Denton, Texas. They had five bass weighing 13.89 pounds, including a 4-ounce penalty for a dead fish.
Ben said he wasn’t discouraged going into Day 2.
“We knew we were in position to make a comeback but disappointed in the quality of fishing that day. We planned on doing the same thing, mostly stay closer to the areas we got bit on Day 1,” he said.
Day 2 started slow. By 9 a.m. they had one keeper in the boat. After a while they moved to a point with no results.
“We started to get a little discouraged. But we pulled up to (another) little point to catch fish back-to-back. We had a little confidence we could scratch something out,” he said.
After a while, Kevin suggested moving to a stretch that failed to produce a day earlier but had in practice. Ben had been thinking of doing just that.
“I said, ‘Let’s go. What’s the worst that can happen?’ ” Ben said.
He could have said, “What’s the best that can happen?” Because it did, big time, with an emphasis on big.
Ben stopped his Skeeter near the area and they resumed casting at 11 a.m.
“It might have been my fifth cast when that big sucker bit that buzz bait. It just slurped it (buzz bait) down but it was so big it sounded like a toilet flush,” he said. “So I set the hook, looked at dad and said, ‘It’s a big fish!’ Then it comes up and it couldn’t get out of the water with its jump. So, I was like, ‘This is a giant fish, dad. We’ve got to get this one!’ Dad got into position to use the ‘Suit net (they don’t believe in landing nets … just lipping).’ She tried to make another run. Kevin got his hand in that big ol’ mouth, put a death grip on her and wrassled her into the boat.”
“Nobody panicked. When the fish came by the boat I grabbed her by the jaw and put her in the ’well,” his father said.
They were stunned by the size of the bass.
“We were pretty excited, obviously. So, we kind of whooped and hollered, celebrated a little bit. It took a while for the hair on my arms to lay back down … I guess from all the adrenaline,” Ben said.
“We didn’t know how big it was. We just threw it in the livewell. We knew it was a big one,” he said. “That was pretty much our day. We might have culled once or twice but didn’t get another bite after that.”
They didn’t need one. The trophy bass took care of that.