January 26, 2010
The check I wrote this morning was for more than any other I’ve written. In the interest of good taste, I’m not going to give you the exact amount, but it was five figures and some might consider it sinful to spend that much on a luxury item like a bass boat. I suppose there’s an argument to be made for that perspective, and while the act of writing the check was not in and of itself pleasurable, like all good sins the result of the act felt great. As soon as I handed it over, I got the keys to a 2010 BassCat Puma FTD.
When I bought my first boat in November 1996, a used model owned by a member of my bass club, I remember sitting in it in the driveway, wondrous that I could own something so sleek, so powerful, so decadent and tricked out. That first boat was 17’10” with a 150, no jackplate, minimal electronics, certainly no Power Poles or SmartCraft gauges. I thought it was the greatest thing in the world and I caught a ton of fish out of it. I was 26 years old and things were just getting started.
January 26, 2010
Judging by the paltry number of suggestions that I received, and the fact that exactly zero of them were on target, I’m guessing that few of my readers were kept up at night wondering who manufactured the spinnerbait that I wrote about on December 29, 2009.
To recap: sometime in the past year or two, I bought a beautifully painted bluegill-patterned spinnerbait. I subsequently took it to El Salto, where I just about had my arm ripped out waking this lure through the trees. Unfortunately, while swinging a fish into the boat the mag willow blade that had attracted me to the lure in the first place somehow came loose from the wire form and donated itself to the lake. I believed that I had purchased the lure at Falcon Lake Tackle, and with a trip to Falcon in the immediate future I was hoping that I’d luck into the opportunity to find another. Just in case that wasn’t where I bought it, I asked you, loyal readers, to identify the lure.
Fortunately, my mind, which frequently forgets the simple list of items that my wife has asked me to get from the grocery store, is like a steel trap when it comes to tackle. Falcon Lake Tackle had the lure in stock when I got there last Friday and I revved up my credit card specifically for this purchase (along with some ¾ ounce Luhr Jensen Hot Lips crankbaits and a few other items). All was once again right with the world, at least until the next tackle calamity.
For the record, the lure weighs a full ounce and is made by T.T.S. Custom Lures of San Antonio (www.ttscustomlureandtackle.com). It’s headed to Mexico’s Lake Mateos with me on February 3rd and I plan to put it to good use. Same with the lure that lost the blade and thereby set off the search – the amputated portion has been replaced with a big ‘ol number eight Hildebrandt willowleaf.
January 25, 2010
Catching a bass out of 47 feet of water -- it still boggles my mind.
That's two bass boats stacked end to end with a flipping stick on top for good measure. Or ten midgets on each others' shoulders with Shaquille O'Neal precariously perched on top (ideally in some sort of Shaq-Fu crane position).
I don't know how many Senkos it would take to get to 47 feet, and I'm not inclined to do the math, but I know it would take a lot of plastic to reach those depths.
Just in case you missed it the first time, here's another shot of a fish from the 40+ club.
January 25, 2010
What's the worst thing about getting a new boat (other than the bill, of course)?
It's when you put that first scratch on your cherry rig.
In some cases cosmetic damage can lead to structural or functional problems and there are a host of products aimed at preventing you from having to go down that road. A dude at Toledo Bend makes what they call a "Gorilla Hull," but in most cases you needn't go that extreme. Keel protectors and the like all serve a similar purpose at a lesser price tag. That's why I was jacked to learn about Tuff Skinz, a motor cover that prevents your cowling from getting messed up.
My friend Kelly Jones had one on his Merc this past week at Falcon. When we stopped at our first fishing spot, Scott mentioned that Kelly had left the motor cover on and inquired as to whether it might be inhibiting some exhaust. Kelly pointed out that it was vented and could be kept on all the time without overheating. If you fish ponds like Falcon where it seems that every piece of foliage has thorns or prickers or other means of messing up a pretty cowling, it would seem to be a must-have. I've never taken my own boat to south Texas, but even around here, fishing the buckbrush on Buggs Island or bumping the docks on the Potomac, it could come in handy.
My new boat with a 250 Pro XS is being rigged right now and she's still a virgin, but the scratches will happen. That's part of the deal if you really want to catch fish. Still, it's going to be painful when it happens. I don't know the folks at Tuff Skinz, but this may be one investment I can't afford not to make, if nothing else than for my own obsessive tendencies.
January 22, 2010
As a general matter, I’m not comfortable fishing unless my trolling motor is kicking up mud. After all, as I like to tell my friends, “bass aren’t tall.”
I’ve got a brand new 20-foot boat waiting on me, blinged out more than I ever thought possible, and I’m still wondering if I accessorized properly given my fishing preferences. It’s the side-imaging Humminbird on the dash that has made me think I might’ve out-kicked my coverage. I mean, c’mon, in 18 inches of water what the hell will I be using that thing for? All that money could’ve been spent on a lot of tackle.
The accessories that inspire far less potential buyer’s remorse are the two Power Poles that’ll stand at attention off the rear of the boat, at least until I deploy them. I’m really looking forward to having them aboard. But even with that obvious satisfaction, I’m still a bit conflicted. I went with two eight-foot poles, even though the six-footers would have been a bit cheaper and would probably meet most of my needs. It’s often said that it’s girth not length that matters and since both models are equally girthy, I’m left wondering if I should’ve saved a few bucks and gone with the less expensive version.
Even an eight-footer wouldn’t have helped me at Falcon on Sunday, though. Clemons and I fished with local legend Speedy Collett and we didn’t make more than a handful of casts in anything less than 20 feet of water. In fact, I caught the deepest bass of my life so far, out of a ridiculous 47 feet of water, thereby exceeding my previous deepest largemouth by well over 20 feet. Aaron Martens I’m not.
The seven pounder pictured here came on a football jig in a mere 43 feet of water, on a piece of deepwater structure that would be a challenge for even Jacques Cousteau to locate. On Speedy’s H’Bird 997si, however, it was clear as day.
January 21, 2010
If you’ve committed a crime and the cops are chasing you through Zapata, Texas and you see the pictured Valero station with the bright yellow “Laredo Taco Company” insignia outside, it would behoove you to pull over. You’ll probably be able to down at least one taco before they get you. Two if you eat fast. It’s a perfect last meal as a free man and by the time you hit the bridge a short distance south the tire spikes would likely have rendered your vehicle useless anyway. If you’re gonna get caught, go out with a full belly.
Similarly, if your soon-to-be-ex-wife has your Escalade within reach of her nine iron as you head down Highway 83, pull over and grab some grub. The gustatory pleasure is worth the pain. A shot to the gonads might be overkill, but a few broken ribs or a cracked skull would be a fair trade.
January 21, 2010
The one on the right spent six years throwing passes for a living to receivers like Michael Irvin and the Miami Marks (Duper and Clayton), but it's the one on the left in the Favre jersey who you have to watch out for -- sneaky little SOB like that would probably be a terror running either the option or the wildcat. No matter who's calling the signals, however, those are four Falcon Lake footballs.
January 20, 2010
There’s a popular restaurant in Zapata called “El Paraiso.” I say it’s popular because I’ve been there at least once all three times I’ve been to Falcon and it always seems reasonably crowded, but I have no empirical evidence about their profitability or the number of customers they serve as compared to the competition, so please forgive my choice of words.
My rudimentary and rapidly dwindling Spanish language abilities tell me that the name should be pronounced “EL PAHR-AH-EE-SO,” but all of the locals say it like “EL PUHR-EE-ZEE-OHS” – and when close to Roma (Texas), I do as the locals do, especially since these locals carry guns and control my access to Mexican food, which, along with Thai food, is at the top of my list of favorites (the common thread, it seems, would be hot peppers). But along with their Mexican specialties, this little restaurant also produces an artery-clogging piece of artistry in the form of a massive chicken fried steak (CFS) doused in cheesy gravy. You can also get chili on top if you want to hurry up the need for a quadruple bypass. Apparently it’s famous among Texans (and to Yankees who like to fish and understand that CFS does not involve poultry (much like a pineapple is neither pine nor apple).
While I’ve seen people order El Paraiso’s CFS before, they’re typically assured by the waitress that the small is more than most people can handle. For my good friend Alan Clemons, however, that was the type of challenge that forced him into action. He ordered the large CFS, a hubcap of beef doused in the cheesy gravy (“on the side is for wimps,” he opined) and ate every last morsel. He may have even licked the remaining gravy off the plate for good measure. If “finger lickin’ good” hadn’t already been trademarked, AC could have been the restaurant’s Colonel Sanders.
He is a man among men and he walked out under his own power, no breathing tube necessary.
Last Updated on Friday, 07 January 2011 10:46
December 29, 2009
Check out the spinnerbait in the two pictures accompanying this blog entry -- by waking this big 'ol bluegill imitator I managed to generate some hellacious strikes at El Salto, nothing over five pounds and change, but you would've thought they were redfish or tarpon given the fuss they made. I recognize that the pictures aren't great, but hopefully they're enough to help you help me identify it.
I believe it's an even one ounce, although it might've been a quarter once less or a quarter ounce more. Either way, with that big #7 or #8 mag willow blade -- the type that Harry and Charlie would've called a filling-loosener -- it really pushed a lot of water. Unfortunately, after catching a handful of fish on it, I swung one into the boat and came back without that beautifully painted hubcap.
I'm 99 44/100 percent sure that I purchased this spinnerbait at Falcon Lake Tackle in Zapata, Texas last February, and as luck would have it I'm headed back there in mid-January, but on the off chance my steel trap memory has forsaken me, can anyone out there identify the lure's manufacturer? I want to get some more for future thrashings. Anyone pointing me in the right direction will get a reward -- I'm not quite sure what, though, maybe a spinnerbait of his or her own. If you're the manufacturer of this bait, thanks for the memories. I'm looking to create more.
Last Updated on Friday, 07 January 2011 10:51
December 28, 2009
While there were times on December 12, 2009, where I would have given my first born, my left leg or my collection of Japanese tackle for a piece of Mary Ann’s coconut cream pie, Gilligan and his three hour tour can go to hell.
What started out as an easy jaunt to Mazatlan, six hours on two planes, both from the same airline, turned into a headache-inducing nightmare of epic proportions. As they might say in the movies, this dude abides, but it wasn’t easy. Here’s how what was supposed to be 10 or 11 hours door-to-door-turned into 24 hours of hell.