One more cast

When I left for the lake on that chilly Thursday afternoon, I knew that a storm was brewing just west of Nacogdoches about 35 miles away. It was late November and was, in my book, and maybe yours, a perfect day to go bass fishing in East Texas.

Upper 50s, overcast skies, water temps had been falling and I had been catching solid bass to 7 lbs. first of the week.

Lake Pinkston was only 15 minutes from my house and I had seen storms come and go many times over the years on the lake, so it was not a major concern, a factor yes, but not a concern. As small as Pinkston was I could be off the lake in less than 5 minutes. I hooked up my boat and headed out .

On the way I wondered how much time I would have on the water before Mother Nature had her say. I will fish in any kind of weather from 30 degrees and drizzle to 100 degrees and roasting, but lighting had no place in my fishing plans.

When I reached the road that crossed the dam, there was not a soul on the water, on occasion; I was rewarded with such luxuries. Driving on this 75′ elevated road you could see the entire lake.

Gin clear waters is the norm for Pinkston. It was glass at this end of the lake and I could see schools of shad circling off the points…textbook!

big fishBack in 1986 this little jewel had produced a whopper bass weighing 16.46, a new state record, true trophies lay in her grass-lined shallows and deep-water haunts. Every time I crossed the dam and I saw those huge schools of shad, I knew there were many more giants in her depths.

I rolled my window up as a cold wind swept through my truck cab.

A tad of History….

Normal pool at around 538 acres, Pinkston was the second most populated lake in the state of Texas, as far as bass per acre, mind boggling with the likes of Fork and the other bass fishing Mecca’s near by, but not to many people knew this little fact, and that was fine by me.

Anyway……

I launched my rig and idled toward community hole, a deep creek that came off the south bank close to the dam. I decided to stay on this end so I could get back to the safety of my truck if the boomers or a downpour came in, and it looked like that was inevitable.

I figured I had about an hour. Most of the time, these winter type storms move in kind of slow and stay over us a few days then move on, but this one had some bite it looked like….

“Screamer” clouds, as I called them, raced across the turbulent sky, as it grew ever darker to the west. These were the clouds that told me this was not a storm to second-guess. It was Five o’clock straight up….

I fished around the creek edges that had some nice grass flats near by with a big power worm….no bite. It was about 5:15 when I heard the first rumble…

I had not heard any thunder up to that point because when it’s calm and overcast like this the boomers aren’t usually there…. I was hoping there wasn’t any lighting…I was wrong.

Right across the lake, just 2 min away, was the main lake point. Reaching out about 50 yards, it had classic deep-water sides that fell into 30′ of water surrounded by old timber.

I pulled up my trolling motor and strapped down my rod, as I went to turn her over I heard the second boomer…. this one lasted about 15 seconds, the one one thousand, two one thousand kind of seconds…. before dying off in the distance….bummer, this was going to nail me if I stayed any longer…

I cranked my motor up and idled over. Close enough to the point within a few minutes I cut the motor and drift in…. these fish were pretty smart, you cant run up on them in this clear water even in 20-30′ depths…they can be spooky.

An old timer by the name of Tony Lovell once told me that he had caught some of his biggest bass in the absolute worst weather mother nature could dish out….{ 2 over 15 lbs. to his credit } as I picked up my rod those words from this seasoned old angler rang in my ears….. I heard another long boomer….

Parallel with the point, I madem another long cast. I looked out over the dam and felt the wind and a cold rainy mist blowing on my face.

” Come on Dave, let’s go, no need for this, come back another day buddy….” a little voice said to me. I was cold, I had not had a bite and a massive winter storm was fixing to slam Lake Pinkston. I had maybe 10- 15 minutes before I was going to be hammered.

One more cast… one more cast…the words of the old timer rang in my mind…. worst weather…biggest bass….

I had just tied on a watermelon ” Nacho” or Slugo as I called them, they worked great in clear water. I had already made two casts sitting there arguing with myself about the situation.

I made one more long cast, my third and last cast in my mind, down this legendary point and engaged the reel. My boat was losing its position because the wind was picking up.

I wanted the slugo to fall at an angle down the slope of the point, past the stumps. That’s when the bait stopped at about what I thought to be 8-9 foot deep…. This was not right… it should be dropping a lot further than that. I always set the hook on mushy feelings and this time was no exceptions, I crossed her eyes when I felt the 3/0 Mustad hook drive home.

That moment is etched in my mind forever. I had just set the hook on what was to be a trophy bass…. with all things considered, I did not need the problems which were all about to take place in the next 2-3 minutes, right before all hell broke lose on Lake Pinkston.

Problem #1

For starters, as soon as I set the hook on this monster bass she ran shallow up the slope towards the bank, I don’t know if it was the way she was headed when I set the hook or what, because they usually run deep if its near by…this one did not…

Another boomer rumbled right over head and trailed off…. the battle raged on …. and that boomer was a lot closer, the rain was picking up to. The wind is blowing me off the point to the starboard side… I need my trolling motor…. things are starting to get crazy!

Problem # 2:

My trolling motor is still not down, remember I had drifted in. Now a Motorguide back then was a tad tuff to break away from the mount and getting it in and out of the water as it was, was tuff enough, but with one hand…. while fighting a big bass? Nevertheless, I got it down pretty quick.

The wind had pushed me against the stick-ups by now and my trusty All Star Rod was hanging with her…. my drag was peeling on the 5500 series Ambassador…we are maybe a mere 10 seconds into the fight…. I jerk the hand control in that direction and hit high by pass….my line stops peeling drag….

Problem # 3

This huge bass, still unseen as of yet, had run towards the bank in what looked like less than a foot of water and crashed into this lone clump of button brush…then apparently, turned around and headed back deep…leaving my line tangled in the button brush lower branches..….

My mind is racing…. I hit the bottom with my trolling motor as I shot forward, reaching for the button brush, {this is maybe 3-4 seconds after I lost tension on my reel}….. I wind up my slack as fast as I can….. the rain is now coming down harder.

I reach out, with maybe 3-4 foot line remaining at the end of my rod and bend down to my tangled line….I grab the base of this one branch and break it off…..

No way…. cant be…. she’s gone Dave…. cut the line and get out of here” the voice says…Hastily, I grab and break the tangled branches away from around the line…. It’s Berkley big game 15lb…. green if your asking what kind of line can take this punishment and still hang tuff.

I reel up slack and feel the damaged line spin under my thumb as I reel in as fast as I can…The line grows tight….the rod bends forward….. and she is still on…I cant believe it…

With only 20 foot of line out, and damaged line behind that only a few feet away, it was now or never….a major winter storm was fixing to pound me and this fight was still on…this was incredible….A total of maybe 30-40 seconds has elapsed since I had hooked this monster…an eternity for fishing…

Within the next 4-5 seconds I had turned her toward the boat and with one last sloshing of her massive head she gave up…..I lipped one of the largest bass in my life…

The fight had left her exhausted, and she had swallowed the hook as well, after I cut the line I knelt there on the deck shaking…. holding this monster of the deep, wet, cold and my heart pounding,…. alone on Pinkston, I had caught my Trophy….

I placed her back in the water and tried to revive her…but she had died… I ran her back and forth trying to push water through her gills …but to no avail.

I would have let her go after I got pictures and a measurement….but her days of busting shad were over it seemed.

I looked out over the lake…my breathing was heavy, showing in the colder air. I hadn’t noticed that the temp had dropped another 10 degrees. I was cold, wet and it was hovering near 40 degrees and dropping.

I placed the giant bass in the live well and stored my gear in a hurried silence. I was back at the ramp just as the bottom fell out.

After I loaded up, dried off and was as warm as I was going to get, I sat in my truck with the heater blasting. I was on the dam again and my watch read 5: 45.

I looked back over at the point where less than ten minutes ago I was battling with one of the most sought after fish in the world.

This would be a trip that would forever be etched in my mind…. how big was she? I never weighed her…. well over ten or eleven pounds I assure you.

She hangs in my garage today and every time I look at her or have a client, as how big she was…. I reply, ” I have no ideal, but give me a minute or two and let me tell you the story behind that fish…..

It’s a good one!”…..


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