It's Never Too Late To Catch The Big One
By Jim Symcox
I consider myself one of the luckiest people alive because I have the opportunity to fish almost every day of my life and also, because I am blessed to be able to fish on one of the best bass lakes in the state, the south Texas fishing jewel Choke Canyon. I have had my fair share of incredible experiences in my bass fishing career, but this trip rates up there at the very top.
My clients were Don Andrews of Riverside, Texas (near Lake Livingston in East Texas) and his daughter Janet Powell of San Antonio. When Janet called me to book a fishing trip for Sunday, April 18, she told me that her dad was 85 years old and loved to fish probably more than he loved to eat. When I asked her what techniques he liked most, she indicated that he really liked to fish with crankbaits and spinnerbaits, but that he could worm fish if he had to. He would just prefer fishing with moving baits rather than sitting a long time in the boat waiting for a bass to find his plastic worm.
During our conversation, I shared with her that most of our fish were coming on Texas-rigged soft plastics, but that I would really try to find an area on the lake that was holding bass where he could fish with his preferred baits. She also explained to me that they would be using their own rods, reels, and tackle and I didn't need to worry about providing anything in the way of equipment for them.
I was really looking forward to fishing with Don and Janet, and felt like I had done my homework for them in preparation for the trip. When I woke up that morning I immediately turned on the television to look at the weather channel and was very discouraged at the forecast. The forecast included high winds and possible rain. I arrived at the lake and the wind was already blowing 15 to 20 mph and all indications were it was going to get worse.
By the time they arrived, the wind had increased significantly and to be quite honest I was really concerned about our fishing trip. After a fairly short conversation regarding the weather, the decision was made to make a go of it and fish anyway.
As Janet and her Dad were loading their equipment into my boat, I noticed that they were bringing some really good gear and certainly looked like they knew how to use it. This was encouraging to know that at least I was fishing with someone who had seen both the good and bad sides of fishing. Now I had to figure out a game plan that would allow us to fish in protected waters and give them the opportunity to fish with either a crankbait or a spinnerbait.
I made the decision to fish the south shore area of the lake, because I knew we would have a chance to fish without having to encounter really rough water. The wind had now increased to where it was blowing 25 to 30 mph out of the south and gusting up to 40 mph. There was no need to take any risks. Besides, I wanted to make sure that they returned home with all of their teeth in tact.
We pulled up next to the bank and I tried to keep the boat in a position that would allow my clients to fish as comfortably as possible. Janet was going to fish with a spinnerbait and Don tied on a small Bomber Model B02A shallow-running crankbait in a firetiger color. He said, "If the fish don't bite this, then we might just as well go back home."
The wind was blowing us away from the bank and along the top of a long main-lake point. The point was covered with hydrilla along with visible and submerged bushes. We would start out in about two feet of water and drift out to where the point ended in about 12 feet of water. One of the unique characteristics of this point is that it extends approximately a half-mile out into the lake before it drops-off into deep water. This gave us the opportunity to cover lots of water on each pass.
During the early part of every fishing trip with new clients I like to get to know something about them and try to find common areas of interest. Well little did I know it, but Don was a retired bass fishing guide. That explained the really good equipment they were using and how well they both could handle the adverse conditions and cast like professionals. Now, you talk about pressure. I broke out in a cold sweat and could hardly hold my rod and reel. He went on to tell me that when he was 10 years old he caught a 7.5-pound bass and had never caught a larger bass since then. Remember, this guy is 85 years old and fishes like a touring professional.
Well to make a long story short, by the end of this fishing trip both Don and Janet had the experience of a lifetime. His first bass was a largemouth that weighed in just a little over five pounds and then he landed an 8.5-pound bass followed by a 7.5 pounder, a 6-pounder and three more bass that weighed over five pounds. If he had been fishing a tournament, his best five fish would have weighed over 30 pounds. That weight would have won any tournament held on the lake this year. You talk about a great day of fishing. It was unbelievable, and I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to share in their experience.
Some days, in spite of even the worst conditions, things can work out better than you ever hoped or dreamed for - this was one of those days. I know I will always remember this day and be grateful for the experience.