With the recent spate of 50lb+ Smallmouth Buffalo coming from Decker Lake to other Austin Carp Angler members over the past three weeks, I decided after my long weekend at Luckenbach for the Harvest Classic Bike Rally (I work for a motorcycle repair and restoration shop), to head on up and fish the lake myself on Monday, October 21st.
Kevin and Chad had fished Sunday, when Chad had his 50lber, so I fished the same general area in the hopes that the buffalo were around feeding on their left over bait. I arrived about 7:00 am, and was set up with baits in the water by 7:30. The bait was grits pack on one rod, with K1 Baits Pineapple Ester Tiger Nuts, which I had dyed yellow to make them stand out. The second rod had grits pack, and one of the K1 Baits Concept boilies that we have been having success on recently, and the last rod had the same boilie, but with a small PVA mesh bag of crushed boilies. As usual at Decker, the swingers started bouncing as the fish moved on the baits; short lifts of 2-3 inches, followed by a slow drop back to the original starting position, as the buffalo suck and blow at the baits.
At around 8:15, the rod with the tigers produced a full-blown run. When I picked up the rod, it was like striking into a snag; the rod taking on its full curve, and line slowly ticking off the drag. I knew then that I had a big buffalo, as the smaller ones (up to mid-thirties) tend to be a little faster, and more aggressive. Slowly but surely, I got the big buff closer to shore, and when it rolled about 30 feet out, I knew it was at least a good fifty. The fish came easily to the net, after its initial roll on the surface, and on the scale, it went 54lb 2oz. At last I had cracked the 50lb barrier at Decker (something that had eluded me for the past two winters).
After recasting all three rods (which I tend to do after each fish at Decker), it was not long (9:15) before I had a jerky take on one of the boilie rods, followed by a lively fight with a 24lb 4oz buffalo. Since the boilies were not consistently getting me takes (they were getting picked up but not hooked), I switched to two rods with the tiger nuts, and left one on the boilies.
The swim went dead for a while after this, so I re-baited several times, before 11:00 on the nose, I had yet another screaming run on the tigers, and yet again when I picked up the rod, it felt like I was pulling in a pile of weeds. This fish did not seem to put up any resistance, just feeling heavy like a bunch of weeds, until it was about 40 yards out. At that point, the fish decided to wake up, and immediately pulled off 50-60 yards of line on the drag. I suspected that I had a mid-thirty, that had run through some weeds and the weeds had fallen off. However, this fish did not want to play ball, going on at least three more runs of 30-50 yards. Thirty minutes after the initial run, I actually saw the fish about thirty feet out on the surface, and immediately pegged it at around the fifty pound mark again. It took another ten minutes before the fish came to the net, and three times when it got to the net, it turned and went back out to around 30 feet, but eventually it succumbed to the net, and the beast was mine. That fish took me 45 minutes to land, and when I picked up the net, I was sure it would be my second fifty of the day. On the scale, the fish went 49lb 15oz, and no amount of shaking or bouncing put it over 50lb.
I re-baited all the rods once again, this time with tigers on all three, and did not have to wait long (12:30 ish) before another slow steady run on the rod that had been last one on boilies. I felt that this was yet another big buffalo, as it was slow and plodding around. I could feel that the fish was heavy, since when it was not pulling, it took a lot for me to move it. This time the fight was around twenty minutes, and at one point, I saw the fish, and could tell it was massive; looking very long and deep in the body, like my PB from earlier in the year. Netting the fish was relatively easy, but picking up the net was not. I had to reach down in the net and unclip the hook-link, so I could lay down the rod, and use both hands to lift the net. I put the fish on the carp cradle, and removed the hook. I then put the fish on the scale, and watched as the needle swung all the way around to 62lb 6oz. I was jumping and screaming on the bank, as this was my second 60lb+ fish this year. I then remember that the lake record was less than 60lb, so I immediately checked in with ACA, to get someone to help with photographs and officially witness the fish. Kevin and Chad were free, so I sacked the monster, wound in the other rods, then got back in the water, up to my knees, to keep an eye on the fish (boy that water was chilly).
When Kevin and Chad arrived, we pulled the fish, and re-weighed it, (it showed lighter on the scale as it was in a sack, rather than the weigh sling). However, after doing the calculations, we settled on 62lb 5oz, measured her at 40 inches long, and 36 inches in girth (my 64lb 4oz PB was 44 inches long, and 35 inches in girth). Kevin took a lot of pictures of the fish, the measurements, the scales spinning around to the eventual weight, and the fish going back in the water.
After Kevin and Chad left, I re-baited and waited; not that I needed to catch anything else, as I was on a high from catching such a huge fish. Eventually I had one more run, and after a relatively easy fish, netted another buffalo. This one went 31lb 12oz, making a grand total of 222lb 6oz; consisting of a 20, 30, 40, 50 and 60, all in one session; I mentioned that to Kevin, and he called it a “Straight Run” (poker term) which I immediately countered with “Record Run”.