EDITORS NOTE: This is the account of the monster bass caught by KayakBassFishing.com Challenge Series participant “Arai”, this fish won the September Secret Shootout, and is one of the (if not the) largest bass caught from a kayak since KBF’s inception! Congratulations to Chris on the catch of a lifetime and thank you for sharing with us here at HOOK 1!!
Just a few weeks ago, on a last minute whim, a buddy and I decided to take a trip out to a well-known Texas lake named O. H. Ivie. I’d never been there and it was on my “bucket list” of places to fish, and my buddy Kevin hadn’t been there in years. That Sunday afternoon I packed my gear, rods and kayak for a trip of a life time.
We decided to arrive Monday evening at Elm Creek Lodge and gear up to fish Tuesday morning. The drive to Voss, TX where the lake is located was BEAUTIFUL. I drove through some of the most picturesque Texas hill country there is; rolling hills, beautiful trees, abundant wildlife and numerous small towns where life is just so much simpler! We arrived at Elm Creek Lodge where Jerry and his amazing staff made us feel very welcome. These guys are top notch and go out of their way to make you as comfortable as possible……oh, and did I mention they cook a tasty double meat cheeseburger? Kevin and I sat in the room that night watching football, gearing up, telling fishing stories and wondering what the following morning would bring.
The next morning came early at 5am. We loaded up our gear and headed over to the lodge’s kitchen for a great breakfast before we hit the water. There were a few other fishermen there that we had the pleasure of chatting with that morning. As the sun rose, we made our way out on to the water and started to fish. The first thing we noticed was how incredibly peaceful the lake was. There were no sounds of the city, no traffic, no wake boarders, no horns, no construction…….the only sounds to be heard was the “plop” of our bait, an occasional bird……and the donkeys that decided one evening they were in the mood for love! HAHA. We made our way from one cove to the next, tossing a variety of baits trying to dissect the bite and pattern. About 9am, I hook into my first fish on a green pumpkin senko rigged wacky style in about 8 foot of water against a tree base off a rocky bank. It was a fat 16” little football and put up a great fight….but wasn’t the fish I was looking for. With my new found confidence in my wacky worm, I continued down the bank fishing the same depth hitting every tree I could cast to. At about 9:20am, I was in a small stretch of bank that had a clearing and a few
large trees up in front of me. I threw out my worm, gave it some slack, set down my rod and proceeded to get a drink. After just a moment, I picked up my rod, reeled in the slack and gave it a small pop. Instantly I felt a slight tension and I knew there was a fish on the other end….so I set the hook. About five seconds into the fight, my buddy Kevin yells to me and asks if I got one. I tell him yes and that it feels like a better fish. About that time, I see the fish roll under the kayak and start to strip drag. At this point I thought I had a 5-6 lber on the other end and I yell to Kevin “This is a better fish….this is a decent fish”.
Now here is where the panic attack starts! About five seconds after that, the fish jumps a complete foot out of the water and shakes its head at me! As I see the silhouette of a massive toad in front of me, my eyes can’t believe it!!!
Instantly I realize that this fish is much larger than I thought, and I began to get weak in my knees. My buddy also seeing the fish jump, drops his rod and begins to paddle over to me. How Kevin remained so calm I will never know, but he instantly started coaching me through getting this fish into the boat. Kevin knew I was throwing light line and as he was paddling over towards me, he started yelling “Don’t horse that fish in Chris! Take your time! Get that fish in! THAT’S A LUNKER!!!” About this time, the fish jumps again and comes completely out of the water. My first thought is that this fish will never make it to the boat and no one will believe me if I lose this fish. I instantly back off the drag and keep my rod tip low to prevent a third jump. After a few more minutes, I get the fish to the side of my kayak and reach for my net. Wouldn’t you know it……my net gets tangled on the front of the kayak and I can’t get it loose??? I decide to reach down and lip the fish as it makes a last and final run to get away. As I grip the fish and pull her into the boat with a great feeling of relief, she kicks and falls completely out of my hands and back into the water. Now take a minute and imagine this…..you catch the fish of a lifetime, you barely get her in to the boat and just as you feel like you’ve done it, you drop the fish back into the lake! My heart stopped, my vision turned dark and I felt like I was going to vomit as I reached down for my rod. To my surprise, she was still on the line……TALK ABOUT LUCK!!
Now this starts the second part to the adventure. As Kevin and I sit there holding the fish, it sets in that this is for sure a 10+lber and possibly a 13+lber! I reach for my scale, only to find that it’s broken….and Kevin finds that his batteries are dead in his. We take a few pictures of the fish and decide we want to take it to the certified weight station at Elm Creek. Well, how exactly to you paddle a kayak full of gear and hold onto a huge fish? The only solution we could come up with was for Kevin to drag me back. Before I go any further, here is some history on me: I tend to overfill my kayak! This day I had probably 40lbs in trays worth of baits, 40lbs of plastics, 7 rods, an 8lb anchor, an ice chest full of goodies and a HUGE fish! Kevin ties onto my kayak and starts to paddle the 500 yards back while I hold the fish in the water. The entire time he’s making this exhausting paddle back, he’s looking over his shoulder yelling “Chris, don’t you drop that fish!” As we get to the boat ramp, Kevin sprints 100 yards up it to get his truck and heads down to pick me up. We race the fish about 200 yards over to the lodge, where Jerry has a holding tank for big fish as they come in (regularly).
The fish weighed 12.31lbs, was 27.25” long and had a 20” girth. We snap a few more pictures and then take her back to the water’s edge for a nice release. After just a moment, the fish swam away healthy and Kevin and I sat there reminiscing on the past 30 minutes. Just then, Kevin realizes that I’m still shaking and can barely stand……so we have a few laughs and prepare to head back out in search of more big fish!
I want to take a moment to thank Kevin for being a great friend and for being there to experience the entire event. Had he not been there, not only would it not been as memorable, but I might not have gotten the fish in at all. Kevin was a real trooper for paddling me back in and helped by taking several pictures of the adventure along the way. I can’t wait to get out a again with my good friend and catch more big fish!