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An Unofficial Record of the Brazos River

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An Unofficial Record of the Brazos River

Clint Taylor

I have fished multiple rivers and creeks in Texas, but I have never fished the Brazos River...at least from a kayak. I have always wanted to go to the Brazos, but have never found the right time or the right spot to go to. This is partially because of the large amount of recreational activity that goes on at the Brazos River, along with the hot Texas summers making water levels too low to go. However, I found a little bit of time to go on my spring break from college, and it just happened to be the right time and the right place.

 The terrain at my put in was pretty good, as was water clarity, but because of the sandy rock bottom terrain, there was a unique stain to the water that limited visibility to about five feet, which in my opinion is good for fishing.

One unique aspect about the Brazos River is that it has some trout in it, yes some Texas trout. Of course these fish aren't native, but there actually is an accumulation of "hold-over" trout which last through the hot summers. Texas Parks and Wildlife releases trout all throughout the state of Texas through the winter months for anglers to catch, and for the most part this has been an extremely successful and fun program. Right where I stuck in at was a large population of trout in a section of current. You could see them waiting for bugs to flow downstream for them to eat, and it was pretty cool to see that considering we don't have many trout in Texas.

Upon launching downstream, temperatures were a chilly 42 degrees with the sun just starting to rise over the horizon. Water temperatures were quite frigid as well due to the ice storms that this area of Texas had received over winter. I was a little skeptical that the fish were going to bite because of this, as most Texas bass are accustomed to hot weather. Nonetheless, it was a beautiful place to paddle and was enjoying the scenery. I was especially excited because this was my first time to go fishing for the year of 2015, but I came to realize that possibly the weather could eliminate a chance of some fish.

My dad ended up catching the first fish of the year, which happened to be a Rainbow Trout on a Worden's Rooster Tail. It was about 8-10 inches long and put up a nice little fight for its size, but I think me and my dad were more excited just to see a rare species of fish that we hardly ever catch. I was trying to throw a Heddon Super Spook Jr., but I didn't get much action. I think this was mostly due to the cold water temperatures and the somewhat sluggish state of the fish. I did get one fish to attack my topwater, but I never got hooked up. The temperature began to rise from the sun becoming visible over the Palo Pinto Mountains, and we were more than happy, as our legs were cold from having to walk through the water in shallow areas. Not that the temperature changed the water temperature, but more so just that the heat from the sun provided a little bit of warmth. In fact, is was so cold that I had on warm-ups to fish in...of which I think is a first for me.

Eventually, it warmed up enough for me to go to some shorts, and also for the fish to start biting a little bit. I would catch my first fish of the year, which was about a pound largemouth bass, of which was also caught on a Rooster Tail. Although the fishing was pretty sluggish, me and my dad had managed to catch a total of two fish so far, which I was more than pleased with, as it was two more fish than I had thought we would catch. My dad would take off a little, as he would later catch his first bass of the year along with a white bass - all of which were caught on no other than a Rooster Tail. If you have never fished with a Rooster Tail before, I highly recommend it, as they are extremely versatile and deadly on a multitude of species. You can read more about the Worden's Rooster Tail from my personal article here. Although both me and my dad highly favor bass fishing, catching three different species of fish for your first three fish of the year was pretty cool for my dad, as we hardly ever catch white bass or trout. The real amazement of the day was yet to come though, as I would soon hook into something I thought would never happen in my life.

As the temperatures got into the mid 60's and lunch was approaching, I decided to start to change up my fishing tactics. So far, I had been throwing a Heddon Super Spook Jr., a Rapala Shadow Rap, and a Rooster Tail now and then. I had only caught one fish and decided to try out some different tactics. I first changed to a lipless crankbait and thought I would have some success, but never did catch anything. I was going to stick to the lipless crankbait for quite a while, but I got my lure tangled on a log and ended up have to cut the line because of a knot that somehow got tied from the snag. I am not sure if it happens to any of you, but it seems like the craziest knots can get tied by accident when fishing with no way of getting them undone. If only we could figure out these knots, because they are awfully tough. I did manage to save my lipless crankbait though, which is always a good thing. In many ways, this snag was what caused me to change to a KVD Square Bill Crankbait.

This crankbait is quite large and has some heavy duty hardware to cope with the big bass of Texas along with a nice action that can avoid logs and rocks because of the square bill design. I didn't plan on having to use the heavy duty feature of the crankbait at all on this day, but boy was I wrong. Right before lunch, I threw the crankbait by a ledge that dropped off near the bank of the river along with some logs and rocks. As I began my retrieval I got hooked on something solid and sturdy and started to set the hook and reel it in. I thought that I had got a fish, but then I realized I was snagged on a rock or some of the logs that are in the Brazos. After a second I noticed that this rock must be moving though, as my line was moving around just like a fish was on the line. Sure enough, I had hooked onto a fish, and a big one at that. The fish was pulling quite hard, and to be honest, I do not know if the fish quite knew it was hooked yet, as it wasn't really fighting...yet. I though I had hooked a catfish or a gar somehow, but then all of a sudden my drag screamed a little and my medium-heavy action rod with 30 pound Power Pro braided line was bent over with the rod tip touching the water. At this point, I knew I had caught a big fish, but I still did not know what it was. I soon caught a glimpse of the fish only to realize that I had hooked into one enormously Texas-sized largemouth bass. I couldn't believe it, as I have never caught a fish that was this big before in my life. The bass gave me a run for my money, as he went under our Jackson Kayak Big Tuna a few times while always causing my rod to be bent more than I have ever seen it. Luckily, I had the right setup for this type of fish, as I had on 30 pound braided line, a medium-heavy baitcasting rod, and a heavy duty crankbait. I was a little concerned that I would lose the fish, as prior to this I have lost two big bass because of gear breaking. In one case, I caught a big bass only for the line to snap because I decided to lift the line out of the water instead of grabbing the fish by the lip. In the other case, my crankbait had come out of the mouth of the bass only for a bass of large size to escape. This was not this case this time though. I fought the fish for a while and then brought it over to my dad for him to grab. As he lifted it out of the water, I couldn't believe what I had caught. It was by no comparison the biggest bass I have ever caught in my life. It was so big that I could literally stick my fist in his mouth, and at 6'4", I have bigger hands than most people so this says a lot. I still can't realize what an amazing fish a had caught, but when I saw that I broke the Texas record for the Brazos River, I was even more ecstatic...at least unofficially. 

The Texas Record for the Brazos River is 9.61 lb., which was caught in 1987. Although I didn't have a scale with me, I have caught quite a few big bass and have always been pretty accurate in judging the size of the fish. In this case, my bass was with no doubt over the record, with my estimate being at 12 pounds plus or minus two pounds. This is a very safe judgement as well, as this fish could very easily be 14 pounds. This is why I say that it was 12 pounds plus or minus two pounds. I was extremely surprised to catch this fish, not only because of the weather, but also because of the small chance of catching a fish of this size.

It is pretty rare and of course exciting to catch a fish like this, and quite possibly even a little bit lucky. I never thought that I could land a fish like this in my life, and most likely never will catch one like this again. This fish was gigantic and more than enough fun. Just to emphasize how big this bass was, I think that it could probably take down Godzilla... at least with the help of Mothra.