By DON SHOOPMAN
THE DAILY IBERIAN
Published/Last Modified on Sunday, June 22, 2008 6:10 AM CDT
On Benjamin Suit’s third cast of his first day on the bass-infested lake recently, an 8-pound, 9-ounce bass inhaled a topwater lure.
The 17-year-old New Iberia fisherman hooked it, reeled it in and released it with the sudden realization the senior trip he was on would be no ordinary senior trip. One of the two men in the boat with him was just as excited, or more, to be with his son at Lake Baccarac in Mexico.
Kevin Suit, 48, of New Iberia, was a proud papa as he watched his son lip that bass, the first of 27 bass they caught over a six-day period May 14-20 weighing more than 8 pounds. Then the veteran bass fisherman started joining in on the fun and before the day was over the Suits had put seven 8-pound class bass in the boat.
Benjamin, who graduated this spring from Catholic High School, where he was a standout pitcher for the Panthers, said after a while they quit photographing all the 6-pound and under fish.
So many weeks later, Benjamin said he’ll never forget the senior trip he chose over more popular and traditional destinations such as Panama Beach, Cancun, Bahamas, etc.
“The fishing was unbelievable. We caught fish all day and a lot of really big fish. I think we determined we had caught like 100, 150 fish a day. It was unbelievable,” Benjamin said.
“It was just an amazing trip. I never expected to catch that many fish in that short of a time span. My dad? He couldn’t believe it. He kept saying ‘We don’t have fishing like this back home. I can’t believe caught this many in this amount of time,’ ” he said.
Suit, an independent petroleum landman, and his son caught approximately 750 bass, of which about 150 of them were between 5 and 7 pounds.
Here is their big bass linescore: Fifteen weighing more than 8 pounds. Five weighing more than 9 pounds. Five weighing more than 10 pounds. And there were the 11-15 and 12-4.
All fish were catch and release.
The six-day trip cost around $2,300. The Terry Hollan’s Lake Baccarac Lodge package included lodging, three meals a day, boat and guide, the elder Suit said. Actually, it was priceless, he said.
“Oh, listen, I offered him to go to Cancun with his friends, cruise with his friends. But as soon as fishing came out of my mouth,” the deal was done, he said.
Benjamin said, “I just wanted something that I’d be able to remember, like a trip of a lifetime, not something that would just get washed away. At the end of my junior year, it started off with I wanted to go peacock bass fishing. But that was too expensive. We went to Mexico, instead.”
Considering some of his classmates went to some exotic locations in the world, he was more than satisfied with a nice lodge near a beautiful, 25-mile long, 5-mile wide clear green lake nestled in the mountainous region of Mexico about 150 miles southwes of Los Mochis. It was stocked with a strain of Florida bass in 1978.
“I don’t regret it, not at all. I’d do it as many times as I could,” he said as visions of 10-pound plus bass still were fresh in his mind.
Benjamin said it was difficult for him to compare the looks of the lake to anything around here or within easy driving distance of here. Closest thing to it might be Toledo Bend, he said.
“Maybe a little bit. The water’s a little deeper at Lake Baccarac. We stayed in 20 feet of water most of the time. I’m sure you can find that at Toledo Bend ��- but the consistency was a lot higher,” he said.
“It looked like open water. But, I guess (judging) from the surrounding area, there were trees on the bottom,” he said about the lake that was stocked with a strain of Florida bass in 1978. The lake record is 19 pounds, 10 ounces, set in January 1993 by Bruce Knutson.
He was unable to compare the unbelievably high cast-catch ratio to any body of water in the Teche Area. Often there was a hookup on every cast, he said, and if there wasn’t a bite for 10 casts, something was amiss.
“The closest thing I can compare it to is when we go saltwater fishing in Dulac, just because of the amount of fish we catch down in Dulac. It’s similar to the kind of days we have down there,” he said about his family’s winter saltwater fishing hotspot for speckled trout and redfish.
Most of the bass were caught on swim baits. The bigger ones produced the bigger fish, his dad said, noting Benjamin used a chartreuse 6-inch pearl Storm model with the tail dipped in chartreuse.
“On one point he made 25 casts and caught 16 between 6 and 7 pounds, like a mould, all 6- and 7-pound fish. I was using a smaller swim bait at the time and caught 4-pounders,” he said.
That was one of the memorable moments, Benjamin said.
His father described another unforgettable moment.
“One day in three casts we had a 10-5, an 8-14 and a 7-11. It was just unbelievable seeing three fish like that laying in the bottom of the boat,” said his father, who has been married to Nena Bedia Suit, a Spanish language teacher at New Iberia Senior High, 21years. They have two sons, Benjamin and Zachary, 13.
Benjamin said his brother Zach was envious.
“Oh, very jealous. He just can’t wait to get a shot to go,” he said. Zach, an eighth grade student at CHS, has five more years to go.
Benjamin finished the senior trip in style. Pablo, their guide, put them on some more football-sized and larger bass.
“I caught a 10-10. That was my biggest. That was our last day,” he said. “I think it was the last fish I caught. It was getting dark and we were running back to the lodge. We pulled up to one more spot. I caught three big fish in the last 20 or so minutes, maybe less than that. I had two 8s and the 10-10. I think I had about two 5-pounders or so.”
The graduate, who tentatively plans to attend McNeese State, where he also hopes to play baseball, returned to New Iberia with the memories he was looking for. And more.