A few years back, when my son Dan came home on leave, we booked a guided fishing trip with a Texas river fishing guide named Shane Davies. Shane specialized in kayak trips on the Brazos River and was known for putting his clients on big river fish. I’d been fascinated by the incredible stories of his client’s successes, but to be honest, there was a cynical part of me that thought the stories were exaggerated. I was wrong; the trip we booked surpassed every expectation we had. In fact, it changed the way we think of fishing even to this day. This is the story of that trip…
This photo was taken right after launching with Shane leading the way in his specially rigged 2-man kayak. Within a few minutes we experienced our first wildlife encounter of the day: a pair of healthy looking coyotes drinking from the river’s edge. As soon as they saw us, they bolted across the river,and I didn’t even have time to grab my camera. Notice the water’s ripple in this picture compared to the water in the next photo.
A few hundred yards down river, the water became glass like. That’s how the Brazos was that day. Light winds, strong winds, then no winds. And from all directions. The temperatures were predicted to reach 105 degrees that day, but it never felt that hot to me, and although hard to see from this picture, the water clarity was phenomenal, which made the fishing more challenging.
My first fish of the day. The first thing I noticed–and keep in mind that I don’t regularly fish for LMB–was the fight. On the light tackle I was using, the fish put up one heck of a fight. It was caught on a top water, and although we didn’t have a scale, we estimated it to be about 2-3 lbs. That made it my personal best–for a little while. My son and I were yucking it up, high-fiving each other, thinking it can’t get any better than this. It soon would.
Something hit the shad I was trolling and shot up from the water. According to Dan, who was behind me, she got 3-4 feet of air time, and then gravity took over and she fell back down to Earth with a loud slap that sounded like a .22 shot as she smacked the water. Then the fun began–she ripped line off the reel, and when I finally set the hook, she took me and the kayak for a Brazos River sleigh ride. At one point the kayak did a 180 degree turn while under her power, and I couldn’t believe how strong she was.
In the end, though, I had a new personal best LMB. We didn’t have scales but she measured a bit under 24 inches, and she was fat!
Twenty minutes after catching that hawg of a LMB, my reel started to scream again, and as I set the hook, the line went tight, and I found myself being taken for another sleigh ride. Only this time what emerged from the river was this beast of a river striper. It was 32 inches long and another personal best. The fight wasn’t as vicious as the LMB, but trust me, it was good. Another round of quick pictures and back into the river she went. I plan to catch her again someday.
Seems like once we got into the big fish, the action just kept coming. Dan landed this beautiful striper, and although not as a big as mine, it was still his personal best. Once again, it was CPR’d (caught, photographed and released). We did want to bring some striper meat home for dinner, but we didn’t feel right taking fish like this out of the river.
And that’s pretty much how the rest of the day went. After catching one fish after another, I remember thinking to myself that this river must not have any small fish. Okay by me. Although I don’t usually target LMB, but my son does, and according to him, pound for pound, these Brazos River bass fight harder than anywhere he’s ever fished. From this day forward, the Brazos River would be our favorite fishery, and more importantly, this trip would forever change the way we think about fishing.
Dan being taken on a Brazos River sleigh ride.
Another photo of Dan’s big striper that day.
CPR…released to fight another day.