Time to reflect on the good times so far.
I’m sitting here in my condo in Dallas, writing this as I wait to drive down to Houston to be with my family and witness the joy of a new born baby. I can hear sleet beating on my windows. My time in Texas has been eventful. I’ve been hit by a Tornado whilst fishing and seeing a good friend hurt which was tough to say the least. This year driving into Hurricane Ike and waiting for its arrival was a very sobering feeling. But this winter, well thats just been special for all the right reasons
I arrived at the new lake for the first time, my first thought was “this is heaven!”.Paul and Jas had driven down the previous day and done a grand job on baiting up and had spent a few hours with a smart cast.
They already had lines out, but no fish as yet. I prepared a good bowl of method and started to plumb around. I found a very gradual slopping area with little or no features, “I guess I’m going to have to bring them to me I thought” so I started to fire out method balls at about 50 yards range along with about 20 Spods of my own particle blend.
By this time Jas and Paul had had about 10 catfish, this is a bad sign as I’m the king of catfish! I cast all 3 rods out and walked down to the base camp to help Jas prepare a nice hot curry for our dinner. It was extremely cold and acamp fire was in order, a quick walk down the bank by Jas and I resulted in what at the time seemed enough fire wood to last the weekend. Paul seemed to disappear during the wood carrying session and only reappeared when the work was done! I told him that’s why he’s the Big English, while Jas and I are the little English. After the work was done we sat beside our camp fire. A couple of beers later and sweating profusely from the curry I reflected on a comment from my daughter on our first fishing trip together. Whilst eating chips and drinking apple juice, covered in dirt and sweat she looked at me and said “daddy this is the life” I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. A shrill sound interrupted my thoughts, then a bunch of abuse from Jas and Paul that went some thing like “you jammy Basket”, I had a run.
Leaning into the fish with a large smile on my face I thought “this really is the life and my daughter now has a Terry Hearn bed chair she can come next year!” after a few minutes I had a scrappy little 16 pounder in the net and high fives all around. Recast and back to the camp fire to warm up with a celebratory cup of PG Tips tea. The rest of the night went relatively uneventfully except for Dallas’s new catfish King and Queen. I returned to my bivvy and called it a night.
First light, a screamer and another high double graced the net, the next few hours got crazy with all of us getting runs including a massive 34 lb new PB for Paul “awesome angling mate and truly deserved!” Jas also managed a couple of really great fish including new US personnel best. I managed a few up to 22lbs, but the big boys stayed away.
We all sat down and made a pact “this has got to be kept quite until we have a full winter on our new found paradise!”
Our meager supply of fire wood started to dwindle and the north wind blew harder, I found myself thinking it’s really f*#@ing cold! Then our new friends arrived! 8:00am frost on the ground, ice cold Keystone in their hands. “Ya’ll must be nuts! Want some fire wood?” We looked at each other and gladly accepted the offer from our new friends a little hesitantly, as we all thought of the movie Deliverance. The trucks grumbled of into the distance and all was quite for a while. I walked back to the bivvy to take a cat nap and after a few minutes heard a terrible noise, “Christ that’s a chainsaw, from Deliverance to Texas Chainsaw Massacre in only about an hour”, I thought looking out of the bivvy seeing our new friends with a full truck load of wood, cutting it and splitting it. I thought salt of the earth, country people are great! We worked out a deal with the locals, fire wood for catfish. Scott Ferguson arrived and we told him the news of Paul’s massive fish, he set about making his pack bait and after a knowing glance at the locals, cast out his rods. Later on the fishing went quite and Scott’s wife insisted he drive back to Dallas to do his chores, he drove away with a sulky look on his face weeping slightly as he drove into the night, I smiled and thought bad training!
Back to the fishing, re baited all the rods, method feeders on all, tigers and chick peas on as hook baits fished on very short 4 inch hook lengths with a size 6 Resistance tackle RTH3 hook. The method feeders were ProLogic feeder leads from BCT. The method mix was a new variant on the Nutz mix designed for cold water use. It’s a great smelling fairly fast breaking mix that delivers scent and triggers to a wide area.Paul was using the original Nutz with added Asian crumb, cream style corn, fake and real tiger on the hair. Jas stuck it out with boilies until the catfish drove him to very similar tactics.
The next weekend arrived and I was buzzing with excitement on the way to the lake, could we do it again? The night went by without too much happening until mid morning then it went crazy again, we all caught good fish, but hats off to Paul again with a great 23lb Koi. The weather this weekend was even colder and all my winter gear is locked up in a storage unit in Houston, so the camp fire was a very welcome benefit. The fire wood was traded for a case of Keystone light, “Beer is liquid gold in a dry county”, said our snaggy tooth friend.Then the wind really started to blow, sparks from the fire looked very dangerous so the fire was extinguished and the cool down began.
The weather was really starting to hurt me by this time, I’ve had lots of bumps and a break or ten in my time so it was a real game of endurance, but I had to do it, the fishing was so good. My tactics changed a little at this time, it seemed the more bait that I put in; the smaller the fish got, so a retired the spod rod and just used the method, adding cream style, regular corn and a small amount of particles to the mix. I also took of the soft braid and went onto the Mantis with a number 4 SSC Fox Arma point due to having to play the fish fairly hard because of the terrible snags in the lake. This pattern is similar to the RTH3 hook, but I didn’t have the RTH3 hooks in size 4. This shape of hook almost always results in a well hooked fish and very few lost to hook pulls. The Mantis was a fashion statement! I just love Kryston products! The method leads remained the same as did the hook baits. The result was the same; I caught the most and the smallest, time for a new plan or a new swim!
Arrived at the lake and settle into my new swim cast out and then start to put up the Bivvy, luckily Paul and Lonny one of the local guys come to my aid.
The night goes by pretty quietly until about midnight, Paul and I get a series of runs. The morning arrives to a one note run, you’ve guessed it 22lbs, and I’m starting to think I’m cursed; I wake up the guys, fish crashing everywhere and no interest. Lost one and get another run, 26 lbs curse is broken! Then it’s on landed 6 fish over 20 lbs total, best fish a very nice 30. Paul has also had a great nights fishing no 30’s, but plenty of big 20’s, the curse of the snags prevented glory this time. I have to pack up and head back to Dallas.
The lake in question “Heartbreak Lake” is a real tackle killer! Jas is at college near my condo and comes around most nights for a coffee. He comes in and looks around, then he smiles and says no wife living in here mate and laughs! I look around and don’t see a problem, I’m not married to Scott’s wife and mine is in Kerrville 300 miles away! Tackle is every where. I’m tying rigs up every night, making method, boiling particles and rolling boilies. I’ve filled my rig bin several times this winter, the rocks and the stumps seem to destroy my efforts at being a tarty carper, Jas points this out to me when I have a load of old rigs around my bivvy and a bivvy full of junk, making me in his words a trampy carper.
Had to work late so travelingdown to Kerriville has gone out of the window, driving home and the weather sucks, really cold and I’m wore out by all the problems at work. Screw it I’m going fishing! Load up the gear and off we go, 2 hrs later I arrive at the lake; check out a couple of the swims and hear nothing no crashes, I decide to fish the wind. The swim is very quite and the water temp is 43 degrees so I decide only to use the method on my rods and no other baiting at all. I get the rods out and make some coffee by this time it’s about 2:00 am and I’m cold, wet and really worn out. Get in the bag and fall asleep, 4:00 am I get a typical catfish run and reluctantly drag myself out of bed to deal with it, I play the fish from the bank and realize to my horror that it’s a carp! 22lbs 8 oz, nearly lost by my laziness. I wake up at 7:00 am rebait and spend the whole day looking for fish; several bass boats come in with stories of blanks. Here am I not looking too confident now, but got to keep working.
No good curry tonight, grabbed a can of spam and a couple of cans of soup on the way out of the house. Spam and ketchup sandwiches followed by a can of tomato soup and a couple of beers saw me in the sack pretty early. First light came and I was really scanning the lake hard. A fish rolled about 250 yards in front of me. Looking even harder I spotted a fish around 120 yards in front of the middle rod, and then the cold front hit! 30-40 mph winds and really cold, I’m thinking wasting my time, but TV sucks and I’m already here so I carry on. I noticed during this time that no catfish had fed all weekend and up to this point I’d not had a single beep except from the 22. Then it happened, not a screamer but a really slow take on the middle rod, hit it and realized it was a carp! Dragging the net between my legs and trying to get on the pier I tried to get the fish away from the stumps, I felt the horrible bumping as the line came up out of the old river bed, 50/50 chance here. 35lbs 8 oz and a real lump make’s it worth while! That’s when I realize I have no camera; only the Blackberry. Track down one of the locals and ask him to take pictures.
What an end to winters fishing, a lake record! The word is out on the Texas carp telegraph. All we ask is be respectful and perhaps next winter we can all share in this cold water wonder of a lake.
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