We came to catch the “big ones”… We left with only good stories to tell…
Austin, TX- January 13th, 2012 started off just like any other day. I went to work the same way I always did. But, when I got to work, the only thing I could do was stare at the clock all day. I only had to be there for a couple hours, but it was the longest day I have had since joining the company in 2011. The time couldn’t move any slower that day. There was definitely excitement on the horizon that I was obviously looking forward to. At 12:30pm, I would be heading to Emma Long Park, in Austin, for our now-to-be annual fish-in with the guys. I couldn’t wait any longer. I had to leave slightly before 12:30pm!
I headed home to find that my wife had already packed up the car, and had the boat ready to hook up to the SUV. As soon as I got there, she said “The only thing you have to do is change your shoes, and hook up the boat.” It was a fisherman’s dream. I changed my shoes, hooked up the boat, and said goodbye to reality for a couple days of some good fishing.
I made my way to the west Austin hill country, iPod blaring loudly, and was even overcome with great feelings of accomplishment in my life, on the way there. There’s something about driving through the hill country, music blaring, that really makes you appreciates some things in your life. At least for me it does. I was overcome with this amazing feeling of accomplishment. Being able to pull my boat to the lake, with my SUV, to spend a few days fishing and hanging out with my fishing buddies, leaving behind my wonderful family, and house, and not having to work at my great job, even for just a few days, makes a happy guy. I have come a long way, and I love it. That’s what these trips are about, to me.
I pulled up to the campsite, saw poles in the water, and tents erected everywhere. YES! I have arrived. This is going to be a blast. I had a buddy help me launch the boat, which was mainly used to bait our swims, and a couple bass fishing trips down river along the tree lines. I came back to the campsite and started socializing, which I’m pretty good at! There’s nothing like being out in nature without a care in the world, hanging out with good people, and fishing. I set up my pod and started tying rigs. Finally I got my poles in the water, and sat down. One of the best feelings in fishing, in my opinion, is when you finally get your poles in the water, and are able to sit down and wait for the squeal of the alarms.
The first night, we didn’t catch anything, which was to be expected. We just hung out, drank beer, and had some good laughs. It was supposed to freeze that night, so we had electric heaters in all the tents, and set up a sweat lodge style tent to hang out in all night. We laughed, we sang, we shouted. Good times.
That night we all froze our butts off. I had probably the worst night’s sleep ever. I had to get up in the middle of the night to find some thicker socks, and it was probably the coldest night I have ever felt IN MY LIFE! I had an electric heater in my tent, but it could only do so much. It was THAT cold. I couldn’t feel my feet. Seriously. I didn’t get much sleep, and was so happy to hear the sound of my wife and kids pulling up the next morning.
My wife brought everyone coffee and breakfast tacos; a staple for any Austinite on the weekends. They hung out for a little while, I stole their body heat, and then they left. I was so grateful. You have no idea.
Now that I’m warm, and full, I re-baited my lines and shared stories of the previous night’s cold weather, and the crazy things we had to do to stay warm. The only thing that has been caught, so far, has been a couple catfish. Still no carp or buffs.
Later that day a couple of us took the boat down river, to search for some bass while the others watched the lines. We worked the tree line like no other, and came back empty handed. Boo! The water was so clear, you could see the bottom, and yet we only managed to spot a fish here and there. Still no carp or buff. While we were out we decided to re-bait the swims, since we were already out in the boat. Might as well.
Time for some lunch, and a nap.
The others took the boat down river to try their luck, and they also came back empty handed. I’m starting to think there are no fish in this water.
After my nap, we went down to the docks to try our luck with some perch. The water was clear as day, but still we couldn’t see any fish swimming around. Right before we were about to give up, one of the guys caught a small bass. Ok. At this point, I’ll take it. Still no carp or buffs in the nets.
We headed back to camp, and re-baited our lines. At this point, we had about 4 catfish from all the swims that were there. We decided to have a fish fry. Ok. We might have had too much fish. I don’t even think we came close to eating even half of what we cooked. Whoopsie! We also had some jalapeno/cheddar deer sausage that a fellow angler had cooked up, next to us. It was probably the best sausage I have ever eaten. Amazing. At this point, we had eaten fish that we caught, and deer that the fellow angler next to us had hunted, himself. We felt like men, for sure, by then. Not to mention we roughed it out, on the coldest night of the year so far. We were pretty proud of ourselves. Rightfully so.
That night we sat around the “heat” and shared stories with each other, and the fellow anglers next to us, who we have known from previous fishing locations and events. We laughed, we shouted, and we had a great time. The only thing we didn’t have still, were carp or buffs in the nets.
That night I decided to use the electric blanket, instead of the electric heater, to no avail. It felt just as cold as the previous night, and was just as rough. Ugh…
The next morning I slept a little longer, since I didn’t get woken up to the sweet, sweet sound of my wife and kids pulling up with warm coffee and food. At least it was sunny when I woke up. I still couldn’t feel my feet, but that’s a given at this point. I didn’t get much sleep this night either. I was exhausted by then, but still having a GREAT time. It was well worth the fatigue.
I re-baited my lines, still no fish on, and threw them back out for a couple more hours of hope. No one caught any carp or buffs that night either. There’s no fish in this lake, I swear.
After a couple more hours of good times, laughter, and breakfast, we decided to pack up and head out. At this point, the campsite looked like a hobo’s den, and there was stuff everywhere. It would take a while to pack up and leave, and I’m not looking forward to it. It was definitely the worst part of the trip. Packing up my tent was the feat of a lifetime, and I don’t wish it upon anyone. Seriously.
Before everyone started taking off, we had to get a few pictures of EVERYONE that was there fishing for carp or buffs. This included campsites 8 thru 12. There were around 15-20 poles in the water, all for carp or buffs, but still nothing to show on film. By now, this was clearly not meant to be a successful fishing event, but more of a camaraderie event. I saw people of all walks of life leaving everything behind and throwing lines out, just to catch something that didn’t even exist. Well, you couldn’t tell it existed by our efforts, anyways.
What did exist was a bunch of guys who were determined and dedicated to the lifestyle of fishing carp and buffs. We weathered through freezing temperatures, sleeping on the ground, having to get up in the middle of the night, blanking on fish, getting up early, not being able to feel our feet, eating what we caught (even if it was by choice), and HAVING TO PACK UP THAT DAMN TENT, just so we could laugh, shout, and take those final pictures of just us. No fish. Just us. It was clear that THAT was what we were there for. Not the fish.
Although the fish would have made it THAT much better. Don’t get me wrong. Until next time, keep ‘em in the net!