Checking out Fayette County

This week is a busy week, speaking-wise. I spoke last night down in Temple, Texas, to a new tournament organization called the Faith Angler Network, which is a family-oriented, Christian tournament group. They have their tournaments on Saturdays, and this was their championship. They have a neat format. They had one day on Lake Belton and one day on Stillhouse Hollow Reservoir, two central Texas lakes. I had a great time doing that.

Today, I'm going to leave for Lufkin, Texas, which is about 3 1/2 hours east of where I live. It's near Sam Rayburn Reservoir. I'm going to be speaking to CAST at their championship banquet. It stands for Couples Anglers Sports Tournament. It's husbands and wives, another family-oriented group.

Normally when I go, I go by myself, but given this format, I'll be taking Jimmye Sue along with me. It's going to be some nice time for her and me to be on our own for the afternoon and evening. I went to Fayette County Lake on Tuesday with a good friend of mine, George Andrie, and one of his business associates, Dwight Abshir. If the name sounds familiar, George's dad, Big George, was a 6-time Pro Bowl selection who played for the Dallas Cowboys. We had a fantastic day, and our trip was a couple-fold.

First, I hadn't spent much time with George in a while, and we're old college buddies. We got to reminisce about the good times we had when we were team-tournament partners. Second, I got to see what the lake is like for when we have our "Day on the Lake Live" in December. Granted, it's difficult to do any real prefishing for a December day on the lake in October, but it did make for a good trip. The fishing was pretty good. We fished from daylight until about 3 p.m., so we didn't put in a full day, and we caught about 40 fish, the biggest in the 6-pound range. (See the photo of Dwight.) Most of the fish were in the 2 1/2- to 4 1/2-pound range. They were fat chunks.

The grass over there is spotty. There are a few places that have decent grass, but there are a few places that I wish had more. That's one of the keys to Fayette — knowing where the grass is and isn't. Every single year it seems to grow in different places. Some places that have a lot of grass in them one year will have less the following. I don't have a reason for that, but it's important to know because the biggest concentrations of shallow fish will be in and around the grass. If you get into places that don't have grass, you're going to want to fish deeper.

Most of the bass we caught yesterday were on topwaters, then we started catching them on Yum Money Minnows in 20 to 25 feet of water. I'll probably make another trip over there so I can figure out several patterns between now and then. My goal is to be able to showcase several different techniques that work, and I can't wait to show everyone the potential that lake has. The things George and I talked about were the fun we used to have back when we fished lots of local tournaments in the late '80s and early '90s. We used to put out a lot of brushpiles. I gave him the nickname "Brush Moose." He's a big guy, and the only one I know who could pick up a 400-pound tree and haul it down to the boat on his shoulder.

There are a bunch of stories that we didn't laugh about then that we can laugh about now. We always used to go plant brush on days we knew no one else would be out, and I remember one particular day in January when the high was 9 degrees. We were out cutting brush, hauling it to the lake, and at one point we got into the water to position the brush just right. I had forgotten about being so low on common sense at that point in my life.

He also reminded me of the time that we had a tree on the front of the boat and the waves were bad. The tree kept coming down towards us and I made him go on the front deck and lay on it. What we didn't know was that there were fire ants all in the tree. I think he had 200 bites that day. Like I said, we can laugh about these things now.

Well, next week I'll be leaving for Lake Amistad for my LifeLine Fish with the Pros event. Before, it's always been held at the private lakes in East Texas, but this time we wanted to give it more of a tournament feel. I'll tell more about that next week. We'll be staying at a place called Indianhead Ranch, which is a 10,000-acre high-fenced ranch that has all sorts of African game on it. We'll fish all day, come back before dark, have a rifle competition, then load up in these open-air vehicles and tour the grounds looking at all the game. It should be a lot of fun. It's the same place we did the Major League Baseball event in the past.

I'll have some photos of that next week as well as an update on Lake Amistad. I feel much safer at Amistad right now than I do at Falcon, given all that's going on. The terrain is much different around Amistad; it would be more difficult for the pirates to conceal themselves. With the brush so thick on Falcon, it's much easier for bad guys to hide out and do things they shouldn't do. I hope that that gets resolved pretty soon so we can go fish it again and Zapata's economy can rebound.

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