DALLAS — I’m back in Dallas recovering from what was, by far, one of the harshest, most brutal fishing tournaments I’ve ever experienced at the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Central Open presented by Allstate on Lake Amistad. See a video of my experience there.
Amistad just isn’t herself at the moment and a 30-foot rise in water level from last year and some of the coldest temperatures on record for the tournament only made things a lot worse.
I hit Lake Amistad at daylight on the Saturday before the tournament and ran some of the areas where my good mate and rod sponsor Ian Miller and I caught some fish on our trip last year. After a few hours of no bites I put my Skeeter/Yamaha on pad and kept my eyes glued to my sounder searching for some hidden dropoffs or creeks that didn’t show up as well on the Navionics.
After an hour or so, I came across a 15-foot flat that then dropped down into a 30-foot creek bed then back up to 15 feet. It was a prime winter staging area for these Florida-strain bass. I positioned my Skeeter and made a cast with a Hog Farmer multi-rig lure up the middle of the creek bed. It hit the bottom and I made a short sharp rip with my Millerod ‘Rig Freak’ and went into a slow roll.
Then the rod was nearly torn from my hands.
I knew it was a big fish, so I kept my rod low and was trying to not let a nearby boat see that I had a fish on. I pulled my trolling motor up and strapped my rods down while fighting the fish. I could feel her slowly rising to the surface and out of nowhere I saw this giant mouth thrashing on top.
It was the biggest bass I had ever seen in my life.
I sat down in the driver’s seat, cranked my motor over like I was going to leave, grabbed her by the jaw and slid her over the side.
As she lay on the seat beside me I couldn’t believe the size of the bass. I wanted to get some photos so I put her in the livewell and called my good mate Josh Douglas and asked if he would come take a few pictures for me.
It was recommended I get it officially weighed because she looked more than 12 pounds, so I took her up to the Texas Parks and Wildlife center, and she went 10.20.
This was my first-ever 10-pounder and the biggest to be weighed on Lake Amistad for more than six months.
Even though it cut into my practice time, I didn’t care. It was an amazing experience and a fish of a lifetime, one I’ll never forget.
The following four days, I had an up-and-down practice. Some days I would find fish and the next I wouldn’t have a bite. The weather was relentless, sitting at 29 degrees (or -3 Celsius) and winds up to 35 mph. It was nothing short of brutal.
I fished hard all week, and each morning I would try to be the first on the ramp and last off. I could never beat Edwin Evers, though. He was there after dark every day.
I have been working hard on my fitness at Crossfit and eating well every day and it 100 percent helped me throughout this tournament. I haven’t needed an energy drink since I started eating right and staying fit. I can go hard all day rig my boat and tackle at night, sleep well and be ready before day light the next morning to be back at them again.