Since the weather decided once again that winter could wait a few more months I’ve been doing a lot more fishing. I love to bow hunt but I just can’t get into it when it’s 90 degreees and mosquitos the size of chickens are doing dive bombing runs on my face.
I had reserved a campsite for Emma Long Park in Austin, the capital of the greatest state in the Union, ok in the world. I love the rest of the states too so don’t get mad non Texans but it’s different here at home. Anyway the plan was for me and Mary Ann to camp in the Cruiser, fish for grass carp and catfish and really spend some time at the lake and just be outside.
I thought this was a great spot near town because she didn’t really “camp” that much and I needed to have access to town incase there was a Starbucks emergency or we needed to get a hotel for whatever reason.
I loaded the Cruiser with everything we may need and a lot we didn’t, threw the kayak on top and we were off, giving it all it had.
That didn’t last long before we hit traffic, I can’t explain in words, well some words but not appropriate words, how bad I hate traffic. The three hour trip took five hours. I think I made up two new cuss words. I won’t drive down there at that time of day again for sure.
To break up the drive a little and relieve me of some of my road rage we stopped for kaloches at The Czech Stop in West. It’s really a requirement of all true Texans if passing through West to stop here so that they maintain the highest level of Texas’ism there is.
I pretty much buy one of everything, eat them while driving causing people to cuss me as I serve through my third cream cheese kolache for it and adding to the mayhem on the highway, I’m sorry fellow travelers I have a weakness.
After five hours driving on our three hour trip we had made it to Emma Long. I couldn’t wait to get lines in the water but we were getting close to dark already so we needed to bait up the hole before dark and Mary Ann volunteered to take the kayak out and bait up.
Hole was baited, rods assembled and rigged, light set up, chairs set up, we had it all but fish. Hours passed with out a fish, without a bite even. Where’s the dang fish? All I’ve heard about this lake is how full of fish it is and I cant get a bite. I know I’m not the greatest fisherman but I can hold my own but I never got a single nibble and finally after about six hours I called it off and went to bed.
This would be our first night in the Cruiser so I was a little worried that Mary Ann wouldn’t be comfortable but I checked in on her once as she had went to bed before me and I found her playing games on the phone with the electric heater going. I think she’s gonna be ok.
I woke early ready to go but with less expections than I had when we arrived after getting zero bites the night before. It was cool out, almost cold, in fact it had dipped into the 40s that night but we slept fine in the Cruiser so I was happy with that. I assume that the cold front was killing the bite but I was gonna fish. After two hours with yet again not a single bite I had to have food and was really starting to get frustrated with the fishing. I had a total of 8 hours bank time already and nothing.
I cooked breakfast while keeping one eye on the rods but there was no reason for that, I hadn’t even lost a bait.
After breakfast I started thinking and changing rigs and baits. It wasn’t working, I tried things I had used before and nothing, I tried things I’d heard about and nothing. I couldn’t believe that I couldn’t get any kind of bites so it could at least give me a clue in a direction to go. Finally at 1:00 o’clock that day I had a pretty good bite but it wasn’t a carp. I was getting closer but the time was flying by and I hadn’t figured out a thing.
Minutes later a run, a good run, a real fish and it was great hearing that line being pulled out. I set the hook into the fish and knew it was good so the fight was on. Mary Ann did great filming and taking pics of the fight and finally the fish surfaced. It was a big common carp, not what I expected from this lake as it had been stocked with thousand of grass carp over the years but I’ll take it. We landed the fish and took the pics and were feeling better but it’s not too long before dark and I knew we didn’t get a bite after dark the night before. I rigged up two rods with the rig that caught the fish and had them all back out in a short time.
Feeling better about my rigs now I settled into my chair and watched the boat show. This river which has two dams making a really long lake is in the city limits of Austin which is home to the University of Texas so you can imagine what the scene is like. Despite the cool weather it was full of boats. One after the other from small kayaks to huge pontoons and speedy ski boats, they were all there. If ever I decide to buy a new boat I won’t go looking at dealerships I will camp on this lake and look at every new model that’s out as they come by and then go to a dealership to buy the one I like.
It didn’t take long to realize another bite wasn’t going to be immediate so it was lunch time.
I bought these frozen stir fry meals that I could heat in a pan and that’s it, they were actually great.
After lunch I messed with some rigs and baits and tried a few different things but the only excitement was when a group of girls came swimming by and got in my lines dispite seeing them and saying look at these fishing lines, some people are just different I guess. I did meet some interesting characters and see some interesting things. It’s Austin, if you’ve never been you should go. It’s not for everybody but there is a lot to do and you will likely see something you’ve never seen.
As the sun set I had basically lost hope on getting another fish but was pretty satisfied with the trip so far.
Out of boredom I had started looking on Instagram and seen that the guys from the TV show Monster Carp were filming at a lake across town and were doing good. They are professional so I wasn’t surprised but I was curious what was different so I told Mary Ann we will drive over there on our way out tomorrow and maybe we can fish that lake next time.
I woke up at 4:30 and thought I should try it as that was about the only time I hadn’t fished so maybe I was missing the bite. I was wrong again, I had one good run and he came off after about a ten second fight. I had enough so as soon as Mary Ann got up we had breakfast and got packed up to go.
I had almost talked myself out of going to Decker Lake where the tv show was filming but Mary Ann talked me into it so we headed across town.
It was the most inconspicuous looking lake ever, just a big featureless lake with some cat tails around the edges but I knew from the pictures it was loaded with small mouth buffalo. I actually was going to just go home as we had a 3-5 hour drive depending on traffic and I was tired from all the hours awake fishing but told her we would stay two hours.
It took a total of about 15 minutes to realize this lake was better today than where we had been. The channel cat were biting immediately when the bait hit bottom. I didn’t come here for channel cat really but I’ll take bites at this point.
After about an hour I had a heavy fish pull the hook but I was confident at that point I would catch one. The rigs were working, the bait was working and the fish were actually biting.
A small run turned into a big one and as the rod came up I felt the heavy weight of a big fish. Mary Ann was recording and taking pics and I thought this fish may save the whole trip because the longer he fought the more I realized how big he was. The fight was drawing quite a crowd so I really wanted to land him and not disappoint my new audience. Finally after 15 minutes I slid the net under him and seen the mass this fish had. I knew it had been awhile since I caught a fish this heavy. The crowd was all there to see and take pics and ask questions which let me know the locals hadn’t seen many this size so that was good.
I never casted back out, I just rolled up and felt the trip was complete. Mary Ann had not caught a fish which was disappointing but she doesn’t take it as personal as I do with the fish.
I was pretty satisfied at that point that what I was doing at Lake Austin would work the fish just weren’t biting there. I did everything the same at Decker and it worked in an hour and a half.
On the ride home even though it was gonna be late I thought I should take Mary Ann for a sit down meal and give her some relief from my one pan meals on a single burner stove that I’d been serving.
We found The Shed in Salado and stopped to see what it was about. It was great, we had BBQ pizza, loaded fries, and a chicken salad. I highly recommend stopping if you are near. Great service, great great food, cool place, and good price. These places are why I search out small cafes.
The meal was great but I’m ready to be home now so we hit the highway.
At the cafe I had a brief conversation on Instagram with Ali Hamidi who is the host of Monster Carp TV and he said come on down to Decker tomorrow and say hello and you can watch some filming. I was pretty fired up about the offer but I was really beat down from no sleep and driving so decided I’d make the decision later.
It didn’t take long to think, ya know, I hate saying I wish I would’ve, and if I don’t go that’s what I’ll say and besides what’s another 7-8 hours total driving in the grand scheme of things?
Up again at 4 AM, leaving Arlington headed back to Decker Lake but this time traffic was not a factor and I made it there at daylight.
I could not believe as I walked up the amount of people there. I assumed Ali would be fishing and maybe two to three guys filming but there were a total of about a dozen.
I can’t say enough about these guys. I mean here I am a random dude that wants to watch you fish and they could have easily said we are filming and would rather not have anyone around but they were the exact opposite of this. I felt like I was with friends as soon as I met them all. Anyone who wishes to have a job fishing or filming should see the entire process before they make that decisions. These guys, although fishing, work hard, the show depends on fish being caught. No fish, no show, no show, no pay, it’s high pressure but these guys thrived. Every man there was great and very professional at their job. I honestly don’t know what I expected but it wasn’t this and the more I watched the more I wanted to learn about all of it from the fishing to the editing and filming.
I doubt any of them ever read any of this but I want to thank them for the day and the experience and hope Texas treated you well.
As the sun started sinking I knew I needed to get on the road to home, at some point I do need to work and make some road trip money. I said my good byes and hope to see those fellows again somewhere in the world.
All told from the Friday traffic to the Monday evening good byes it turned out to be a great trip even though I only caught two fish. I’ve had worse trips with worse food. I will return to Decker soon and I hope some of Ali Hamidi, Tom Dove, and Neil Spooner’s buffalo mojo is with me.
Johnny Stevens says
Great read . Enjoyed video.