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Like most outdoor outfitter stores, our Fort Worth, Texas location is covered with trophies from our various hunting and fishing adventures. This series of first-hand accounts will highlight some of the animals that decorate our store.

Largemouth Bass

March, 2005

I spent many of my Friday and Saturday nights at the crappie house at Lake Alan Henry during my junior year at Texas Tech University. I learned that all of the tournament bass were weighed and released there, and at the time, this lake was red hot, so there were tournaments there every weekend. As I started honing my skills at detecting the slightest crappie strike, I started catching more bass as well.

It was during the 2005 spawn that I learned about the TPWD Sharelunker program. It wasn’t before too long that Lake Fork was in trouble of being dethroned as the top bass fishery in the state. If you aren’t familiar with the Sharelunker program, TPWD asks that anglers donate any 13+ pound bass caught during the spawn (Oct. thru April only) to the Athens freshwater fisheries center for the state to perform research and selective breeding on these trophy bass to improve growth and maximum size potential. At the time, if you caught one, you received a free mount and apparel. Needless to say, I really wanted to catch one.

This lake owes me! The year before, I had taken off my state championship ring and for an unknown reason, put it in my tackle box. For another unknown reason, I put the box on the top rail, open. Minutes later, a strong gust of wind blew through the crappie house and I lost my ring and all of my tackle. Even though it was my fault, I still felt like this lake had to repay me somehow.

The night was March 10 around dusk. There were three of us and we had a fresh bucket of crappie minnows and large shiners. Crappie rods were set and the rod at the far end with the shiner was set. One problem: I forgot to loosen the drag since it was used for crappie on the last outing. Once the crappie started hitting the minnows on the other rods, the shiner was slammed. It took all of three seconds for the rod to break as well as the six-pound Trilene.

After losing my mind, I re-rigged with a $20 Shakespeare combo (college budget), spooled up a reel with 20-pound Spider wire, adjusted the drag, and dropped the shiner where I thought this monster might still be lurking. Five minutes later, she came back!

After a five-minute fight, sweating bullets and worrying she would break off on a cable holding the crappie house up, I finally brought her up around a crowd of curious and excited fishermen. All of the time I put in finally paid off!13_2005_modisett

Did I do it by stalking a bed for hours? No. But I still put in my time, learning the environment, spending many days and nights in this crappie house and learning the behaviors of these fish.

That night, Grubbs, the local bait shop, re-opened once word started spreading and let me weigh her and keep her in one of their bait wells while I waited in a local guide’s camper for a biologist from Athens to pick her up. Her official weight was 13.82 pounds and her replica now hangs proudly in my office. I’ll never forget that night.

 

Mike Modisett
About the Author

When Mike's not running Gunn&Hook's business development division, he's typically dozens of miles offshore or well-hidden in a ground blind deep in the woods.