MYETTE POINT — When Ezra Choate got a shot at a “hawg” just before midday July 25 in the Atchafalaya Basin, he was using a fishing rod far down on his preferred list to battle and land such a giant bass.

After snapping his flippin’ stick on a big fish a few minutes earlier, Choate transferred the Lew’s fishing reel from the broken fishing rod to a 7-foot Kistler Rod, which was his favorite for fishing with soft plastic swim bait but presumably out of its league for flippin’ purposes. Then the lunker-sized bass chomped down on the soft plastic creature bait he flipped to some choice structure.

“I set the hook very lightly because the tip was a very flexible tip,” Choate said a few days after the Anglers of Christ Bass Club tournament out of Myette Point Boat Landing.

The 20-year-old firefighter-in-training answered every challenge and eventually boated the 6.13-pound bass while fishing with Ricky Duhon. The bass club tournament’s biggest bass also anchored the winning team’s three-fish limit weighing 10.39 pounds.

AoC Bass Club members call the young man “Big E.” Now Choate has a big bass to go with the nickname, the biggest of his bassin’ career. His previous best was a 3-pound class bass.

“It was a major upgrade,” he said in an understatement.

It was the biggest bass reported in this part of the Atchafalaya Basin since Johnny Schexnayder of New Iberia got his hands on a 6.87-pound bass Aug. 18, 2018, while fishing a combination Coteau Bass Club tournament and benefit tournament for the late Leonard “T-Clyde” Norbert. Schexnayder, a veteran bass angler, caught it flippin’ a Reaction Innovations Sweet Beaver.

Choate and Duhon had 20 or so small bass and big goggle-eye to their credit before the big’un bit in Charenton Lake.

“We stayed around one area all day long. It was nice. We stayed there and caught little fish all day long until they got better. All the bites were the same. They’d pick it up and run with it,” Choate said, emphasizing the third-to-last-word.

The flippin’ stick he was using broke just before 11:30 a.m. He swapped out the fishing reel. The big bass did a hit-and-run on the Strike King Rage Craw a few minutes later.

“It was the next best rod I had. I’m proud to catch it on that rod,” said Choate, the son of Tim Choate of Youngsville, formerly of New Iberia.

“That thing was bending all the way down,” he said about the fishing rod.

The surging bass took an underwater lap around the boat. Choate skillfully and successfully guided it around the Mercury outboard motor’s lower unit.

As he was fighting it, he kept having a chilling thought.

“I didn’t see it until it came to the surface. When I did, I said, ‘I know I didn’t set hook hard enough,’ ” he said.

Apparently, the hookset was solid enough. Duhon netted it. When it was safely in the boat, Choate said he folded the net over it to ensure it stayed there.

“My heart was pumping. I didn’t even bother to measure it. I could stick my fist in its mouth,” he said.

After the adrenaline wore off and following the weigh-in, Choate didn’t think twice about letting it go to fight another day.

“I had it in the livewell for a while. Then I walked down to the dock and let it go. It’s just what we do now, catch and release,” he said.

Choate, who was homeschooled and graduated in 2018, said he has been fishing with his dad since they started going for bream when he was about 6. A few years later they started targeting bass together and he fished bass tournaments as his dad’s guest beginning at age 8.

“Whenever we go to Toledo Bend, we pair up. We know how we work. We know how we fish. It’s fun. It makes it easy,” he said about fishing with his father. He also works part-time with him at the elder Choate’s business, Tim’s Fibermend and Acrylic Repair.

AoC Bass Club member Mark Angelle, who won the bass club’s AOY in 2017, ’18 and ’19, taught him how to flip, he said.

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