Bastrop angler lands Bussey Brake giant

Danny Diel thinks the fishing gods smiled on him and gave him a second chance.

You see, last June, Diel, who is from Bastrop, was fishing at Bussey Brake when he hooked a giant bass out of a flooded bush.

“I was fishing by myself, and when I tried to dip her up into the net, the hook pulled out of her mouth,” Diel said. “She was a giant.”

Fast forward to this past Sunday, April 3. Diel and his son, Cade, were fishing at Bussey Brake, fishing this same stretch of bushes where he had his near-miss nine months ago. He was fishing one bush away from the bush from which he’d hooked the big bass, and he pitched in a plum-colored, Texas-rigged Senko.

The bush exploded. A fish took drag. Diel wrestled with it for a minute or two, and brought it to the boat, where his son first tried to net the fish, then wound up reaching down, lipping it and bringing it aboard.

“We were beside ourselves,” Diel said.

The bass was a 13.84-pound giant, very likely the second-largest ever caught from the 2,200-acre Morehouse Parish reservoir – only Robert Rush’s 15.36-pound monster, caught Feb. 26 – has been bigger.

Diel hopes to meet his big bass again, because after he got her weighed on certified scales, he and Cade ran back across the lake and released the fish in the bush where he caught it.

“I think there’s a very good chance it was the same fish (from June),” Diel said. “I was so worried about getting her back in there, I didn’t even think to measure her.”

Diel’s son makes the right call

Diel and his son didn’t arrive at Bussey Brake until well after lunch that afternoon, having gone to church in the morning, then waited at the ramp for another 20 minutes for a thunderstorm to pass.

“When we are going fishing on Sunday, we try to go to church first,” he said. “We came home, and we were going fishing – my son wanted to go – and I was going (to another lake) but he said, ‘Let’s go to Bussey’ so we did.

“We put in, and we pulled up in front of the sign that tells you where to call to weigh a fish, and I said, ‘We’re going to call that number today.’”

Diel headed to a stretch of bushes he fished regularly. He noticed that he and Cade were fishing the exact same Senkos, so he told him to look through his tackle box and tie on something different.

“He was down in the bottom of the boat, and the next bush I fished, I threw in there, put the reel in free spool and let it sink all the way down. It stopped, I picked it up, and she took off.

“She came up on the other side of the bush, and I said, ‘I got a big one.’ She was pretty aggressive, taking drag. I must have dropped it right on her head. I finally got her back to the bush, the other side, and Cade tried to dip her up, but I was afraid he was gonna knock her off, so I told him to grab her. He reached down in the water and got her, and I said, ‘I’ve caught a 15-pounder.’

Spawned out

Well, maybe a week or so earlier, the big fish might have been that heavy. Diel felt like the bass had completely spawned out.

“Her tail was torn up, and she had skinned marks all over her from spawning,” he said. “Her belly looked big, but it was like a jelly roll; she was flabby. I told Cade, I wish she’d been full of eggs when I caught her.

“She was so thick, so tall. My son weighs maybe 120, 125 (pounds), and when he picked her up, she looked as wide as he was.”

The Diels headed back to the landing to call the number and weigh the fish. First, they had to locate their landing net, which was missing in action. Not finding it, they started out, but after a few seconds at idle speed, Diel realized the trolling motor was still in the water. He pulled it up, and snagged on it was his landing net.

Getting an official weight

Back at the landing, Diel stayed in the boat with the fish while Cade got out and got the combination to the room where the certified scales reside.

“My scale in the boat said 13-10, but she was 13.84 on the certified scales. We weighed her four times,” he said.

The fish was out of the water only long enough to get it weighed and have Cade take a few cell-phone photos of the fish. Then, they headed back and released it into the bush.

“I retied, and we started back fishing,” Diel said. “I went 50 yards down the tree line, and when I pulled up on one of the bushes, I pitched in there and saw a big fish run out of the bush on LiveScope. I  started jiggling (the Senko), and I watched her swim up and suck it down. It was a 6-pounder.”

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