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Record Buffalo Adventures - with Jason Johonnesson
At CarpPro we’re not elitist about our quarry and fully appreciate the place other big fish species play in our sport. We admire those that are truly crafting an American style, whilst in pursuit of the largest specimens. This month we’re talking to Jason Johonnesson, an outstanding angler, responsible for some amazing captures in Texas. It culminated in this iconic image of his monster 70lb small mouth buffalo.
Jason thanks for agreeing to chat to us here at the magazine, you’ve had an amazing 18 months or so and we’ll hear more about that later. But, lets start from the beginning, why Buffalo?
It’s great to be talking with you Dave, I’m loving the new magazine! One day I was out fishing for hybrid striped bass on my home lake, Lake Ray Hubbard. As I hooked into a small white bass I guess my line spooked a large buffalo because this buffalo jumped completely out of the water as if it were a dolphin out in the middle of the ocean. My mother, who was fishing beside me, thought that I had hooked the buffalo. She began to scream "Don't reel that thing into this boat!!!" I said "Mom, calm down, it's just a small white bass on the line."
Seeing this made me question why I was fishing for small bass when there are monster buffalo lurking around. Having been a regular in the stripped bass section of the Texas Fishing Forum I knew that there was also a section of the forum dedicated to carp fishing. This is where I first made contact with the Lone Star Carp Brigade. I told them what I saw and invited them out to my boat slip, which is in 30 feet of water, so that they could show me how to catch these beasts. They captured some really nice fish during this session.
I’ve heard they are a great bunch of guys, well apart from Zach, he’s a letdown, LOL! Did that encourage you to fly solo?
Yes they are a terrific group. So, with this new knowledge I did try it myself and took the family to the boat slip one afternoon. At first we were not having any luck and we were only catching catfish. My mother saw that her rod tip was bobbing slightly and, thinking it was just another catfish, she told my middle son Dylan to pick up the rod and reel in the fish. So he did....It was a 35 lb 10 oz smallmouth buffalo! Not only was it a new water body record but it was also an IGFA Smallfry World Record for Dylan. I decided that it was time to take this sport very seriously so I began to embrace British and European equipment, bait, and tactics.
That’s incredible! He must have been over the moon. Now the Euro gear is a money pit but perfectly suited to bank fishing techniques. How did you get on with it?
My luck was in. The following weekend I fished Lake Fork by myself. I was sure that I wasn't going to catch any fish. My goal was to simply become familiar with all of this new, and very strange, gear. I was astonished to be awoken, at 4 am, by the sound of a screaming alarm. I reeled in a beauty 26 lb common carp and I absolutely couldn’t believe it. I was now madly in love with this wonderful sport! From this point on my family and I have spent all of our recreational time carping and there is nothing else that we would rather be doing.
And the rest is history as they say with the fish increasing in size on almost every trip! I know the LSCB have been a huge influence but I know you rate someone else as another huge influence in your fishing these days and I think it’s prelude to the monster?
Well actually there is a couple more. Firstly Danish freelance journalist, Peter Christensen. He’d made contact with the Lone Star Carp Brigade on the Texas Fishing Forum. He said that he planned to visit Texas in January and fish Lake Austin, along with a few other venues. I emailed him and proposed to him that I fish with him during his entire stay. I told him that we could use my vehicle and I would have all of the provisions ready for him upon his arrival. I made it very difficult for him to refuse! We fished together for 3 weeks and it was the most amazing fishing experience of my life.
Peter is the most incredible winter angler I have ever met. He was so confident and he always knew what to do no matter how the conditions changed. He captured 3 fish to my 1 including 2, 50 lb & 3, 40 lb buffalo. He also captured a couple of commons over 30 lbs. One could saythat he absolutely schooled me. Fortunately for me I captured the biggest buffalo at 70 lbs & 8 oz which was the new Lake Austin Water Body Record. The monster.
Second during that expedition Peter & I met up with Richard Somerville to do a bit of fishing on Town Lake. This was the first time that I met Richard but I definitely knew of him. He is arguably the best angler in the great state of Texas and likely the most successful to fish Town L
ake. Ever since this session Richard has been my constant mentor in angling as he is a wealth of knowledge and experience. Still to this day I talk to him several times a week to discuss tactics, venues, and bait.
I’ve recently spoken to Richard and he’s a great guy. I hope you’ll be reading an article or two from him here very soon. I know Peters trip caused quite a stir in Europe. Was the that the catalyst for the tours you now run?
Absolutely! When clever people talk I listen.Towards the end of Peter's stay he encouraged me to offer guided trips to European anglers. He told me that there is a growing market in Europe for buffalo angling yet no one is offering this service. Peter told me that he would allow me to use all of his pictures from our trip to build a website, so I did, and this was the beginning of Texas Buffalo Adventures. As you say when Peter returned to Denmark he sold his article to magazines throughout Europe with my website address within the text and I immediately began to book trips for the 08/09 season.
Hasn’t your daughter caught a world record as well know?
Yes, I’m so proud of her. I’m so proud of them both! In the Spring of 2008 my daughter and I set out to get her a world record to match that of her younger brother. Our first attempt was on Lake Austin but the largest she captured was only 25 lbs. On our second attempt we went to Lake Fork and she was able to land a beauty 42 lb beast. This was easily the IGFA Jr. F. World Record Smallmouth Buffalo. Now my family and I have 2 water body and 2 world records between us. Next it will be my oldest son's turn and the records that we have our sights on are not age group specific.
With the year you guys have had you’ll probably land a world record bass if you threw a lure from that boat launch! Lets talk tactics. Can you walk us through one of your rigs?
I’m not sure that would happen! Sure, rather than describe take a look at the picture, this is of my long distance rig that I use to cast to the river channel. It is not my favorite rig but highly practical and proven fish catcher. I like it just fine and it gets the job done when I need to fish at range.
Simplicity itself! I’m pleased to see the bait caster reels coupled with the long rods. Thats statement that will resonant with American angler. What of the future, any thoughts?
The American public has been lied to, for a long time, about carp. For generations they have been told that carp are "destructive trash fish", and so on. Pushing the sport of carp angling can be a big pill to swallow for the average American angler. Buffalo, on the other hand, do not have all of the negative attention associated with them and it is much easier to talk about buffalo fishing to other anglers. Once they learn about the buffalo then acceptance of carp soon follows. It is far more difficult to accomplish this the other way around. Looking at the American angling public, as a whole, I would argue that it is impossible. Lets recognize the sport of carping, but use it for our similar native species as well. Let's be unified by the sport and not separated by species.
Well said Jason. It’s been an absolute pleasure talking to you and USCARPPROmagazine wishes you every success with the tours. I know as we speak you’re hosting some “name” anglers from the UK. I hope they do well and I encourage everybody to check out your site: www.texasbuffaloadventures.com