The tournament ran for 12 hours to allow the competitors time to paddle and fish the eight mile stretch. All the competitors put in at the same place and had to take out at the same place as well. Strategy played a big part in success and failure. Thirty guys launching in the dark but outfitted in lights is definitely a new experience. Thanks to Dustin Doskocil for capturing this awesome picture. (I'm on the right with the PFD on).
Lesson #1- Slow Down
I was so worried about making it the entire eight mile distance. We had a head wind for most of the paddle and I was not going to miss the time deadline. I paddled my Commander 140 like a madman for the first hour. I took a short break to hydrate and paddled for another half hour. When I checked where I was on the map I had paddled more than half way. Without a cast. I had to find my three fish on the back half of the river frontage.
As I did slow down I started spending more time looking for a pattern. One finally emerged after a couple of hours of frustration thanks to some advice and modifying of my setup. From there on out I caught fish.
Lesson #2- Snacks and Drinks
By 9AM it was 90 degrees. I had paddled more than five miles by that point. I was hungry, thirsty and tired. I found a nice spot to stop, wade a bit and refuel. Having high protein snacks like beef jerky and peanuts helped get my muscles the energy they needed. My kidneys were happy I had Gatorade and water chilled and at the ready. Before the day was over temps topped 100 and I had gone through 84 ounces of Gatorade and 84 ounces of water and only peed once. I was sweating the liquid out faster than I could drink it.
Lesson #3- More Than One Fish is There
After lunch I finally started keying on the right cover types and locations. I was blind casting previously and moving from spot to spot. I got out of the kayak finally and stood and threw at the same spot. Five fish got lip piercings. The rest of the day I hammered anywhere I caught a single fish. Usually after a few small ones a bigger fish would take the bait. With a three fish limit it was culling time by 1PM and these spots didn’t disappoint.
Lesson #4- Watch the Fish and Match the Hatch
As I figured out the spots where the fish would be I started watching them. The river was full of these three inch minnows that they seemed to be chasing around. I got several bites on a four inch worm but wondered if smaller would work even better. I cut a six inch worm in half, downsized my hook and let it fly. The fish I caught from then on were bigger. Call it coincidence or cunning but getting smaller bait in the faces of those fish seemed to work.
Lesson #5- River Fish Will Break Your Heart
The fish that live in the Brazos River know where every stump, grass line and possible snag grows. Try to prepare for ambush fishing like you would for pads or stumps. I went with eight pound fluorocarbon on spinning gear and got heartbroken three times. My next trip back I’ll be ready with better gear, bigger line and hopefully more monsters will make it to the kayak.
I ended the day with 47.50 inches for my best three fish. My biggest of the day was a 19.50 inch bass with an underbite that tourney fishermen dream of. That put me somewhere around fifth. After driving up at 2AM, I was exhausted, saw I wouldn’t be in the top three places and decided to head to the house 17 hours after I left it. When I reached home, a shower and bed greeted me quickly.
Over the last several days I’ve continued to process what went right, what went wrong and plotting my revenge. I’ll be going back to the Brazos with my plan in hand most likely to have her tear it up in front of my face.