Air Force Capt. Chris Bush, a native of New Orleans, is a man on a mission — a mission to catch giant trout.
While stationed at Keesler Air Force base in Biloxi, he logged countless 5- and 6-pound trout, numerous 7-pounders and his personal best at the time, an 8-pounder.
But when he got stationed in San Antonio last year, he knew he was only a few hours away from a big-trout Mecca in Corpus Christi.
He made the three-hour trek from San Antonio a few times, scouting areas to get ramped up for the spring bite.
"I found this spot on a terrible day in December. It’s an enormous flat in the middle of this bay in Corpus and it’s solid oysters," Bush said.
The bite didn't happen in December but he knew the area had potential when the big girls started showing up for the springtime feed prior to the spawn.
Last Thursday, April 17, was when the stars aligned for the fish of a lifetime.
"I had a hard east wind with a nice incoming tide and the water was up. I got on my flat, upwind, so I could make long casts,” Bush said. "After about an hour, I decided to switch from a jig to a (MirrOLure) Top Dog just to cover some water while I was learning the contour of the bottom and trying to figure out the location of pot holes.”
Bush happened to glance up and saw the trout hit the bait.
“She didn’t explode on it, but swirled on it,” he said. “After I felt the tension I set the hook and got about three cranks in until she came up and shook her head twice — this is what still stands out the most to me.
“I’ve never seen gills flare that big; she was so big she couldn’t even come out of the water completely. Then she just fell over on her back like she was wallowing in mud. After that she starting doing her cruise. Never once did she pull drag — she just cruised the whole time.
Not expecting to catch a monster that day, Bush didn’t have his Boga Grip or his stringer with him, so he carefully walked the big fish about a half-mile back to the beach.
“I almost fell about a dozen times, tripping on oysters, sliding on mud and hitting soft spots. It was probably pretty comical if I was looking at myself from the outside,” Bush said. “When I beached her I knew she was 30 inches so I ran with her, still hooked by my Top Dog, to my truck to get her on the Boga. When I did, she was 11 pounds."
After a gracious bystander took a photo, Bush took her measurements: 30 ½ inches long with a girth of 17 ½ inches.
I've talked to Capt. Chris a few times since he caught her and each time he reflects on the first time she came up and shook her head. That's what us trout fishermen live for.
His persistence, hard work and dedication paid off with a memory that is forever etched in his mind, as well as those of us who have the same obsession.