Woods, Waters and Wildlife: A Cool Catch

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It’s been said that whatever you do on New Years’ Day, you’ll do all year long.

I’ve tried to apply that with a number of my favorite activities, and so far, none of them has carried over even to Jan. 2. It makes me wonder who said that to begin with.

A couple of guys I know may hope there’s some truth in it. But then again, they may not.

Tim Cook is the state conservation director for Texas Bass Nation. He was aware of rule changes concerning the Texas Parks and Wildlife Toyota ShareLunker program. This program previously accepted entries of largemouth bass weighing 13 pounds or more, caught between Oct. 1 and April 30. The fisherman who caught the largest bass won a boatload of prizes, and reams of publicity. The bass could be loaned to Parks and Wildlife for breeding.

The new rules only accepted for donation 13-plus pound bass caught between Jan. 1 and March 30. But the changes created new categories and some accepted entries all year long. One accepted bass weighing eight pounds or more. Rules also allowed entry by cell phone.

Tim Cook is a creative guy. He was probably daydreaming on his way home from a bass tournament, and thought what a cool deal it would be to catch the first bass of the year under the new rules. He called his friend, Aaron Hernandez, in San Marcos, and they agreed to give it a try. Cook had no idea how “cool” his idea would be .

They didn’t consider the weather. Being dedicated fishermen, that was no concern.

Right. Do you remember January 1? New Years’ Day delivered the coldest weather of the new year. In fact, it delivered still the coldest day we’ve had all year.

They went anyway. Temperature was in the 20s, and a strong north wind was blowing. I’m not sure Texas weather guys can record chill factors that low. Our boys wisely decided that the big lakes were out of the question due to the wind. They opted instead for Lake Dunlop, on the Guadalupe River, just east of New Braunfels. The lake is somewhat down in a valley, and protected to an extent by bankline trees. Dunlap also has a decent population of large bass, having produced one over 13 pounds.

Hernandez was using a Yum Alabama rig. That’s a device that has three or five clips to attach hooks baited with artificial lures, like soft plastic minnow-like baits. I thought that was a dubious choice, but Cook explained that the multiple lures simulate a school of baitfish, and was a top producer of reaction strikes from big bass in cold water.

It worked. Aaron hooked a nine-pound, one-ounce bass that qualified for entry, and, as planned, became the first entry under the new rules, entered in the “Lunker Class” for bass weighing at least eight pounds, or 24 inches in length.

And the two guys are the early leaders for the 2018 Brass Monkey Award.

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