Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Laguna Madre - South Padre Island

I took a trip down to South Padre Island for the weekend with my family and a bunch of friends. Eric Chandler booked us a guide trip on the Laguna Madre. Two boats, 6 people with two expienced fisherman (myself and my buddy) with 3 of my buddies relatives that rarely fish and one close friend. We kept 19 keeper specs, and a 25 inch redfish.

I lit up the trout with Berkley jerk shad on a jig head. Color didn't seem to matter, but some colors worked better than others. White with a pink stripe on the back got the most action, but we ran out and had to fish other colors. I personally caught 30 plus fish using jerk shad, mostly spec trout. My catch included 4 pinfish(perch), 3 skip jacks (18", 22", 24"), one snook that jumped off at the net, the guide estimated to be 24 to 26" and 10 keeper spec trout with the largest being 21 1/2". Fun trip... for me anyway. Some of the other guys on the trip didn't fair as well since they stuck to fishing live shrimp on a popping cork. The rest of the guys caught an average of 5 trout apiece that were mostly under size and had the big one that got away story to take home. The redfish hit a white/blue back Berkley jerk shad on a 1/4 oz jig head. The big trout I caught definately put up the same fight you'd get from a big bass only without the jumping. The skip jack are like mini tarpon, they make runs and then jump while wiggle like crazy, fun stuff.

The Fishing Crew

The Fish

Eric with a nice redfish!

Me with a nice trout!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Texas Classic Bass Club May Tournament

I fished the Texas Classic Bass Club May Tournament over the weekend Saturday on Buchanan. There was perfect fishing weather, a little cloud cover and 80 degree temps. Water temps at 70 degrees and water clarity was about 3 inches or less on the upper end. The lake is fishing very well lately. I fished with Jouhn Hackney from the club.

The Tournament:

I woke up late, never heard the sound of the alarm or that I can remember anyway on Saturday morning. I was ready to fish as soon as my eyes popped open at 6:00AM. I ran through he house and called John as soon as my feet hit the floor. Luckily John hung out at our meeting spot. I think I got dressed and was out the door in record time. In all of the tournaments I've fished over the last 8 years I think I've been late twice.

John and I met at Wataburger at 6:20 AM, I was a little disappointed in myself to say the least for sleeping past the time I told John that I'd meet him. We got to the lake at 7:15, 45 minutes late and were about to launch when I reached for the boat keys in the console of my truck and my heart nearly stopped. The keys were not there. I thought that was where I'd left them after my last guide trip on Travis a week before, but turns out I left them in the pocket of my jacket back at home. Called the wife to see if she would be our hero and bring the keys or meet us halfway, but no chance. John said, "lets fish and make the best of it," so that's what we did. We launched an hour late and only had the trolling motor as a means of getting around for the day. We fished from Burnet county park to Morgans creek and back from 7:30ish to 3:30. We caught some 30 bass and four large perch. We ended the day with 4 keepers weighing 5.8 lbs. Not bad for a days worth of fishing with only the trolling motor to get around. We caught most of our fish on cotton candy worms all day on drop shot and shakey heads.

To top our day off, as if it were not bad enough, we ran into a rather uneducated home owner while out on the lake. We are fishing near a boat dock when a lady came charging out of her home screaming, "Excuse me, excuse me! Can I help you? Hello! What are you doing?" That was pretty much all without taking a breath or waiting for a response. I replied that I was fishing. Now her husband, stops his yard work and comes out to the shore and tells me I'm trespassing on his land and I need to leave. I told him I was floating on public water and was not trespassing and that if he wanted to call the police I'd lend him my cellphone to make the call. He ran into the house and came back with a phone and pad of paper, which he wrote my TX numbers down and then proceeded to make a call or pretended to anyway I'm not sure. He said he called in on me for trespassing and the cops would be there in 30 min and advised I should be gone before they arrive. I said, "Lucky for you I gotta go or I'd stay to prove you wrong." If I'd had my boat keys, John and I agreed we would have waited for the police to arrive. We couldn't stay or we would have been late for the tournament weigh-in. We left and never heard from anyone until we got to the weigh-in. We told our story about the jerk home owner and one of the other teams had been harassed by the same home owner except he went a step further and circled their boat on his jet ski until the left the area.

I haven't decided yet, but I may pay this home owner a visit every time I fish the lake from now on in hopes that he does circle my on his yet ski, and next time I'll have more time. I'll call the police myself and stay, so that I can file harassment charges on the home owner. Home owners may own the land and the docks, not the water and they can't stop fisherman from fishing around a dock.

Location of the offending home owner: See Red circles.

Tournament in Review:

We think we caught about 20+ bass or more over the day. Most of the fish were caught on cotton candy trick worms. John and I caught four keepers going 5.8 lbs putting us in 5th place. Congrats to Rick on the big bass of 7.7 lbs edging me out of the big bass of the year.

Special Thanks:

Thanks go out to Kelly and the kids for letting me take a Saturday to do some fishing.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The Kelsea and Zachary take 1st in Fishing Tournament.

On Saturday May 10th the Knights of Columbus held a family picnic and the activities included a fishing tournament to be held on the bank of Old Settlers Pond in Round Rock. We started fishing at 3:30 after lunch. I took Zachary and Kelsea down to the preselected are which included the fishing dock on the pond. Zachary quickly located a school of perch fishing from the dock and called for Kelsea and I to join him to catch fish. Guess I should explain the rules for the tournament, catch the most or the biggest fish in your age bracket. I had baited the kids lines with Berkley crappie nuggets and the perch around that little dock were loving them. Kelsea and Zachary each caught 3 perch a piece before everyone else caught on to the fact we were on a good school and had the right bait. Kelsea's first fish caught was a nice big one, 6 & 1/2 inches long and held out to be the big fish for her age bracket. They caught perch on the Berkley nuggets for a while and then someone showed up with a grilled hot dog and the perch went into a feeding frenzy over the bits of greasy hot dog put on a hook. When the hot dog ran out, we switched back to nuggets and earth worms someone else had provided later. At the end of the tournament at 5:30, Kelsea had caught and released 20 perch. Zachary had caught and released 17 perch. Both received first place trophies for their age brackets.

Congratulations to Kelsea and Zachary on their first tournament wins. I also need to congratulate Isaiah Chandler for 1st place in his bracket with a 6 inch perch and Eric Chandler for first place in his bracket for a nice 3+ lb bass caught with 5 min left in the tournament on a black power worm.

Kelsea and Zachary prefishing at Williamson County Park on Thursday before the event.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Mother's day was a sad day in fishing news - Dottie the only known world record bass passed on to the big lake in the sky.

World-record class Dixon Lake bass "Dottie" dies and ends era for three old friends

Jed Dickerson had just left Dixon Lake exhausted and was about to sit down for lunch when he got the call from Jim Dayberry, one of the Ranger supervisors with the park's lake division.
"You might want to come back down here," Dayberry told Dickerson at around 11:45 a.m. PT on Friday. "We just found Dottie floating on the north side of the lake."
There was a group of Rangers, including Dayberry, waiting for Dickerson on the dock, shaking their heads. Dickerson picked up the 19-pound dead bass and looked for the spot on her gills that had famously earned her the nickname "Dottie."
"Yup, that's her," Dickerson said. "It's over."
What Dickerson held represented almost a decade of commitment, putting him on a journey that labeled him, in certain people's eyes, as both a record holder and a fraud. It began with old friends Mac Weakley and Mike "Buddha" Winn and ended with new friend and former Minnesota Vikings and Arizona Cardinals coach Dennis Green.
This was the third time he'd held Dottie, and for the third time, it didn't accompany the title he wanted so badly — largemouth bass world-record holder. George Washington Perry's record mark of 22 pounds, 4 ounces, set on June 2, 1932, at Montgomery Lake in Georgia, dodged the biggest bullet of its nearly 76-year-old life on Friday, and Dickerson, Dottie's most devoted hunter, will finally get some rest.

"In my opinion, this is one of the greatest days in bass fishing history," said Dickerson, who had spent the week with National Geographic, working on a documentary on bass. "It's the end of an era and Perry's record lives on. I don't think anyone is ever going to break it."
Chasing Dottie
Dickerson, Weakley and Winn all grew up fishing together on Dixon Lake in Escondido, Calif., but they started their career hooking trout. Then one day they all watched as a guy stayed in one area all day, staring at one fish (sight fishing). Eventually he hooked a huge pregnant female and at the same time, hooked three kids on chasing bass.
But it wasn't until the late '90s that they realized their chase for big green bass would turn into a chase for the biggest green bass. A rumor and then a sighting of, at that point, a nameless, massive female bass, ended up defining their lives.

Tim Schick,
Jed Dickerson loads Dottie into a bag for the Game and Fish Department. Dottie was put in a freezer to be examined later."We just think it's really bizarre — kind of like it was meant to be," Weakley said. "The three of us grew up in that area, and that's the lake we used to fish out of every day when we were 6- and 7-years-old.
"And it turns out there was a world-class bass swimming in that lake three miles from our houses."
They devoted every minute of their free time to catching Dottie, which they believed would be large enough to score them the most coveted and historic record in bass fishing.
Dickerson was the first to realize the dream in 2003, and he thought the record was officially broken when he picked her off a spawning bed. He said the three friends immediately weighed Dottie at around 23 pounds, but it took the Game and Fish three hours to get to the lake to verify it as a record. By that time, they said, it was stressed and had lost a lot of its weight.
She officially weighed 21 pounds, 11 ounces, which still holds as the fourth largest largemouth bass ever recorded. That's when they noticed the spot on the gill and declared the race for "Dottie" and the record officially on.
They didn't pull her in again until 2006 when they again spotted her on a spawning bed and Weakley went to work. He eventually was able to set the hook, but when he got her to the boat, they noticed she had been foul hooked (not hooked in the mouth). Against his friends' wishes, Weakley decided not to try and make the record official with the Game and Fish.
Before releasing her, they weighed Dottie at 25 pounds, 1 ounce, shattering the record, took some photos. Weakley said he wasn't prepared for the scrutiny that followed.
The three were pounded by the media with requests for interviews and scolded by some conservation agencies and even other anglers about the way they handled Dottie. They were told by many that they had all but buried Dottie and some anglers even reported finding her dead.
"After all the scrutiny we've taken over the fish, people can see the truth now," Weakley said after seeing Dottie for himself on Friday. "Even though the fish was foul hooked, which sucked, I think it was good because it showed what the fish was in her prime.
"If we hadn't caught her in between Jed's catch in 2003 and her death today, people might have thought she topped out at 21 pounds."
Weakley and Winn backed off from the hunt after 2006. Winn eventually took a job that moved him away from Dixon and Weakley felt like the deed was done. But Dickerson wasn't finished. He wanted to see Dottie officially go down in the record books.
"I looked at it like the final chapter in that book had closed, but Jed didn't see it that way," Weakley said. "He wanted to keep pursuing it and get the official record. I think it became a personal thing with him, while for me, I kind of felt like I had been there, done that."
Dickerson said it went beyond just wanting to see his name in the books. Because of the time invested he felt like Dottie was his (along with Weakley's and Winn's), and he didn't want any "one-time angler" to come to Dixon, a public lake, catch Dottie and claim the record. He wanted to make sure it stayed close to home. And, according to Dickerson, they were coming from all over the U.S., and even some from Japan to try and put their name above Perry's in the book.
Meeting Dennis Green
Dickerson didn't have any luck with Dottie in 2007, but he spotted her in Dixon three months ago, with the females in the early stages of the spawn. A few days later he met an unexpected new friend and business partner, Green.

Tim Schick,
Jed Dickerson and Mac Wheatley compare Dottie to her mounted self."I heard he was on the dock, but I didn't want to get into his business," Dickerson said. "But when I got back, I found out he was looking for me."
Green, who lives 45 minutes from Dixon in San Diego, said he knew Dickerson's story and thought he'd take his 9-year-old son Zach to check it out for himself. They struck up a quick friendship and Dickerson starting guiding for Green and Zach, both of whom love to fish.
"Talk about the biggest bass is always part legend and part myth," Green said. "Sometimes that giant bass doesn't really exist, but everyone talks about it."
A few days after that, Green and son Zach witnessed something he described as "unbelievably beautiful."
"When we saw her — it was just unbelievable," Green said. "She had two males swimming beside her — I called them her security guards — and she was more confident than any fish I've seen in my life.
"She was doing her thing, man. We think of a big fish as a fish that's lazy, but she was moving with a purpose."
Green was so enamored with the chase for the record and the mystique that followed it, he signed Dickerson on to be represented by his new business, Dennis Green Sports Marketing.
"Jed's a great fisherman and a great guide, and I think fishing is the future," he said.
Dickerson, balancing time with his job banking for a casino and his family, spent about eight hours a day, every day, looking for Dottie this spring, but the next time he saw her was when he held her on Friday.
Life after Dottie
He had all but given up hope of catching Dottie this spring when he got the call from Dayberry, but surprisingly, he said the first feeling he had after hearing Dottie had been found dead was relief.
"Now I won't wake up every morning, worrying that someone else was going to catch her," he said. "It's cost me an arm and a leg, and my family has been very, very understanding through this process.
"I'm just totally exhausted."
Weakley had a similar reaction. Tired of the scrutiny and attention, he was glad that the hunt was over and happy how it ended.
"I think it's great that she didn't end up in an aquarium or on somebody's table or on a mount," he said. "It's good to see that she lived her life out and came back to visit us one last time so people can really see just how big this fish is. And now we get to share her and let other people see her."
Green said he couldn't think of a better ending to Dottie's story. One of the most impressive bass in recorded history spawned one last time and passed away on Mother's Day weekend.
"Dottie was spawning just like a 3-pound fish," he said. "As a big fish, she still was into spawning. When they found her today, she was totally spawned out.
"She did what she had to do, and she did it on Mother's Day weekend. And her legend as the biggest fish ever goes on."
Editor's Note: Dickerson is a guide on Dixon Lake. He can be contacted at

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

My 100th post and I'm a bass-attic!

How do you know when you're addicted to bass fishing?

For me it was today while driving home on the freeway I noticed a large white bass sticker on the rear windsheild of a car a few cars ahead of me. I swear it looked just like a bass silhouette jumping out of circle of ringed ripples on the waters surface. After a little while I caught up to the car in traffic and realized it wasn't a white sticker of a bass, it was a big glob of bird crap.

I'm not sure I could pass an ink blot test if I had to go for a psyc study or something. What does this look like? A bass. And this? A bass. And this... a share lunker.

Don't laugh, true story.