Last Saturday, January 21st, Mike, Chad, and I participated in a tournament at Decker Lake that marked the inaugural season of the Wild Carp Club of Austin, Texas. This was the first tournament Chad and I have competed in, but definitely not the first for Mike. We were excited to test our skills against skilled anglers, and maybe learn something in the process. The day ended up being very educational and a lot of fun as well.
We arrived at Decker around 7am. It was a great deal colder than the weather man had predicted, and we were more than a little bitter about that. Cold as it was, we still had the tournament in the front of our minds. We considered which swim, and which bait would be the most effective considering the current conditions. As most of you know, Decker has a considerable weed line, and we were fishing on the side of the lake where it’s the worst. We knew that in order to be successful, we had to conquer that weed line. We chose our swims, and started setting up. Chad and I were right next to each other on the far left, and Mike was on the far right side of the bank, 2 swims in between him and me. I have to say, looking down the bank to see everyone mixing their method, setting up their pods, and preparing their hook bait, made me very happy. My first tournament, time to put my game face on!
To say that the day started slow is a vast understatement. Not just for me, but for everyone on the bank. With nothing but weeds tugging on my lines, it wasn’t long before I was standing at my pod scratching my head. I had a variety of bait out, with a pretty basic method mix. For my hook bait I had a boilie, some maize, and a pop-up. My method mix consisted of some calf manna, oats, and sweet corn. My setup was the same as it has been for many productive sessions at Decker. Still, nothing seemed interested. It was then I decided to switch up my hook bait a bit, and add some ingredients to my method. I also decided that I needed to get my line out further, since I kept pulling in nothing but weeds when I would re-bait. Since I am still perfecting my cast, I decided to put my waders on so I could get in the water and cast. This always adds about 10 yards or so to my cast. Waders do very well at reducing the rookie factor while casting, for me anyways.
We continued to give it hell, re-baiting every hour and half to two hours. Still, no one was getting anything more than a twitter from their alarms. At this point, morale was low. We are still having a great time, but it would definitely be better with some fish on the bank. Hell, I would have been happy to see a catfish, at this point anything would do! Everyone was beginning to accept the possibility of blanking. With method left in the bucket I figured, why not re-bait? I put some fresh hook bait on, and tried to place my lines in the same area that I had been baiting all day long. It was about 3:30 pm at this point, just an hour and a half to land a fish!
At this point I was relaxing in my chair, trying to wrap my head around what had gone wrong. Just then, my center rods started to scream! No indication that anything was near my bait, it just took off. I quickly jumped up and ran to set the hook. When I pulled my rod back, I could tell something big was on the other end. I began to reel my line in, when suddenly it went slack! My heart dropped. Even Mike saw my rod give and said “it just pulled didn’t it”. I reeled a bit more line in and realized there was still a fish. I was positive it was a buff, since he double backed on me. He was not coming easy though. He ran several times, and I let him. I didn’t want to lose what was probably the only fish I would land that day! He surfaced pretty far out, it was undoubtedly a buff, and he seemed to be a good size. The fight continued for about 15 minutes. Brian was nice enough to assist and net the big girl for me. When we set her down on the mat, I exclaimed “I’ve been waiting for you all day!”. I was elated. My efforts and frustration had not been in vain. She ended up weighing 34lbs 7oz. This beat my previous PB by 4oz!
After the excitement from that catch, Mike decided to change his hook bait up and give it another go. At 4:56pm he got a bite. He tightened up the line, and it screamed off! He set the hook, fish on! With only 4 minutes to spare, talk about cutting it close. Mike asked Scott jokingly “I don’t have to land it before 5, do I?”, which of course he replied no. When the fish got close, we could see it was a buff. With a net assist from Scott’s son, Mike landed his buzzer beater. It weighed 31lbs 4oz. Nice angling, Mike!
What a day! That which started bitter, ended sweet. My buff put me in the lead for points, with Mike not too far behind me. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, never give up! Persistence pays off every time!
Big thanks to Wild Carp Companies and Scott for organizing the event. I can’t wait for the next event at Lady Bird on February 4th. I look forward to seeing everyone again, and even some new anglers possibly. I will say this, if you do decide to attend, you won’t be disappointed.
Until next time, keep ’em in the net!