Todd Herrington has a rule for fishing Bussey Brake, the 2,000-acre reservoir near his home in Bastrop.
“The thicker the bush, the better chance you have of catching a big one,” he said. “You gotta get ‘em to bite before you can get ‘em in the boat.”
This past Tuesday, he proved himself correct, flipping a Mizmo tube (black/blue), Texas-rigged with a ⅜-ounce worm weight and a 2/0 Gamakatsu Superline hook, into one of the thickest bushes he could find, 5 minutes from the boat ramp and 25 yards from where he first put his trolling motor down, shortly after 7 a.m.
Thickest bush equals biggest fish.
The fish that Herrington wrestled out of that bush was the biggest Valentine’s Day present he could imagine, a 13.58-pound largemouth bass that broke the 2-year-old lake record – set by pass pro Randy Howell in a Major League Fishing event – by almost a pound.
“I flipped into this bush, and she picked it up,” Herrington said. “You can tell you’re not hung up. I held it there, and I felt her, and I set the hook and the fight was on.
“She was in that bush, and she finally came out – she just came out – and she was only a couple of feet from the boat. I had to use two hands to pull her up. I had my rod in one hand, and as soon as I got a good grip on her lip with one hand, I dropped the rod and grabbed her with the other hand. I thought, ‘Oh my God, this is a big fish.’
“The size of her mouth was unreal. The size of her lower lip…. I just couldn’t believe it.”
Getting an official weight
Herrington put the fish in his livewell, got out a set of portable scales, hung the fish on them, and they registered 13.55 pounds. A 59-year-old construction worker, Herrington realized that he’d left his cell phone at home and had no idea what the lake record was. He remembered a sign on a bulletin board outside the lake office, a number to call if you wanted a fish weighed.
“There were two guys at the ramp, and I borrowed their phone to call my wife and tell her to call, and just about that time, the game warden drove up,” he said.
It didn’t take long before Herrington had his huge bass on a set of certified scales that recorded the fish’s weight at 13.58 pounds – his biggest Bussey Brake fish by almost 2 pounds and almost a pound heavier than Howell’s 2022 lunker.
Herrington got a few photos of the big fish, but he didn’t have a tape measure to get length and girth, and he wanted to get the beast back in the water alive, which he did.
“I wanted to have a replica made, but I didn’t have a tape measure or anything,” he said. “I guess I had a Golden Rule in the boat, but I didn’t think about it. I called Lake Fork Tackle, and they said a taxidermist could make a pretty close replica of it from a photo, so I’m having a replica made.”
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