The morning dawned clear and chilly with a light southwestern wind.
I had worked the graveyard shift at the Borger Refinery & NGL Center (Phillips 66) and had gotten off of work at 5:30 in the morning. After having invited several friends to go fishing with me and listening to them tell me how crazy I was for going out in 35 degree weather, I finally had a taker. Now whether he was crazy too, or just loved fishing as much as I do, I don’t know, but we headed out with a sense of something to come, good or bad , I just knew something was bound to happen cause it was Friday the 13th of March.
Lake Meredith is located about 45 miles Northwest of Amarillo, Texas. It is a 16,550 acre lake with lots of rocky shorelines and deep dropoffs, (ideal for smallmouth) but not hardly any trees around it at all, so if ya’ll come for a visit, bring plenty of sunscreen. About 2 years ago they flooded the lake and put a lot of brush and small trees under water, so now it is coming on strong as a bass lake.
Now I don’t claim to be the best fisherman on this lake, but I do know how to fish this lake. I had caught most of my smallies on Crankbaits and Jigs until I started experimenting with a FleFly slab and curly tail grub combination. The smallmouths seem to attack that thing like it is their worst enemy. As I have said before, I had caught some nice fish in this area before, in the range of 3 to 5 pounds. I had a 3/4 ounce slab with a glow in the dark curly tail grub on it, and Tracy was fishing with a Little George. We were drift fishing in about 35 feet of water and bouncing them off bottom and pulling it up about 8 feet and then letting it flutter back down. On the first pass, something big hit that slab, but I missed it, so we circled back around and drifted across again. This time I was ready when it hit. I could tell that it was big by the pull of the rod. I pulled it up about halfway when it started its run out away from the boat. It surfaced about 35 feet out and we could see that it was a nice one. It decided it liked the deep water better and headed back down, I just let it go and then started reeling it back up when I felt it tire. This time it surfaced about 10 feet out, I looked at Tracy and his eyes were as big as saucers, as were mine. It made 1 more run to bottom and then gave up, and when we hauled it into the boat, we both knew that I had a lake record. There sure was a lot of whoopin and hollerin that went on in that boat.
I would like to take just a minute and talk about THE DREAM. You know the one I’m talking about. The one that every fisherman, be it man or woman and especially children, has when they are out fishing. The dream of catching a record size fish and having your name in the record books. I have had that dream since the age of 7, when I saw my dad reel in what I thought was a monster fish. Most people like to fish just for the thrill of the fight, but in the back of their mind, there is always the DREAM.
On March 13th 1998, I realized that dream. After taking the fish in and getting it weighed and certified for a lake record, it was then that I found out that I not only had a lake record but a state record. My fish weighed in at 7.93 lbs., was 23 inches long and had a girth of 19 inches. It was official, I now owned the Texas State Record for Smallmouth Bass. I named the fish Jason, because it was caught on Friday the 13th. I donated Jason to the Budweiser Share a Lunker program, and she is now residing in the Texas Freshwater Hatchery in Athens, Texas…located 75 miles Southeast of Dallas, Texas.
Because of Jason, I have had the opportunity to meet and talk to a lot of people that I would never have gotten to, if not for the record. So far it has been a very enjoyable experience, one that I would not trade for the world.
If you come to Lake Meredith, be sure to stop by Larry’s Marine and bait store and pick up some of the FleFly slabs. The phone number is (806) 857-3464. If you ever get down this way and need some information on our lake, you can give me a call at (806) 857-2445, or just call and shoot the breeze. I don’t claim to be a great fisherman, but I am a sincere one, and I will share my knowledge of the sport with you. So long and good luck.
“Take a kid fishing and help them get hooked on a dream that will last a lifetime.”
P.S. There have been some magazine articles that refer to my catch as an “accident”. It seems that since I mentioned that we went out that morning in search of some of the pre-spawn walleye that Lake Meredith is famous for (The Texas State Record for Walleye also comes from here) they took that to mean that walleye is what I was fishing for. I would like to set the record straight. I am a BASS fisherman at heart, and I work hard at bass fishing, but I do love to eat Walleye, although I do not claim to be a seasoned veteran at walleye fishing. My buddy and I had set out to catch some of the walleye to take to work and have a fishfry with our co-workers. After fishing for 30 to 45 minutes with no luck. I asked my buddy Tracy if he would like to switch to Smallies. I told him that I had been having really good luck with the smallies in the cold weather. He said “Sure, I’m just here to catch fish, no matter what kind.” So we switched out lures and headed to one of my honeyholes. So no matter what you may read elsewhere, at the time that I caught Jason, I was BASS fishing.
That’s my version of the story and I am sticking to it. Thanks for taking the time to read my story and I hope that you enjoyed it.