Hooking a Texas freight train

With our 10th anniversary coming up, I thought it might be a good time to share a story from the first Elite Series tournament on Lake Amistad. It fits well with Christmas, too, because I certainly received a present on the second day of that event.

My mindset going into that tournament was a little different than what it had been. When I was invited to participate in the Elite Series, I knew it was a wonderful opportunity. I also knew there were decisions to make.

This new series was going to be much more expensive than the Tour events I had been fishing, but the potential rewards were much greater, too. After much thought and after spending several hours with a No. 2 pencil and a half-dozen sheets of paper, I reasoned that if I could finish in the Top 50 in half the events I could get my entry fees back.

With that in mind I paid my fees, packed my boat and headed towards Texas.

On the first day I weighed a little better than 16 pounds. At the time I knew that wasn’t what I needed, but I had no idea that it would put me in 70th place.

On the morning of the second day I knew I needed to do something different. I ran all the way to the other end of the lake. That didn’t turn out so good. At 1 p.m. I had about 9 pounds in the livewell. Things were getting desperate. The weigh-in was at 3 p.m.

I decided the only option I had was to turn the boat around and run all the way back to where I’d fished the day before. That worked. I caught several good bass and culled most of my fish within just a few minutes.

Just as I was getting ready to call it a day I hooked, and landed, a 7 pounder on a Senko. She was in a huge, dense bush.

I was now down to about 10 minutes fishing time. I couldn’t leave without making another pass through the bushes, however. My Senko snagged. When I went in to get it, I saw a giant bass sitting in the middle of the bush I was snagged on. Ever so gently I broke my line and tried to back out, away from the bush.

As I did that I could see the bass following me. I’d move a foot or so. She’d move a foot or so with me. I finally realized she was following the shadow of my boat.

We’re now talking five minutes, and that was cutting it close. Out of desperation I lowered another Senko I had tied on down to her. She grabbed it. I thought I’d hooked one of those Texas freight trains I’d seen on TV.

She weighed 10 pounds, 6 ounces.

That was enough weight to get me past the Friday night cut and to keep me on schedule to earn my entry fees back. It’s funny, you know. I’ve had a bunch of tough events since then but time has faded the memory of most of them, but it has not faded the memory of March 10, 2006 on Lake Amistad.