"It was early in the morning in 2010. One of my last little Senkos. I snagged up a big one in Choke Canyon, an 11-7," Tye Blackshear says, the excitement of that day evident in his voice. It was his first double-digit bass, but it wouldn't be his last.
"I'm just going to catch the big ones. It's the thing to do," he decided. Since then he's altered his fishing style. Blackshear is always shooting for trophies, and he gears up with the bass version of an elephant gun.
"You need sensitivity, but you want the backbone," he says. For full-combat flipping in thick cover, he'll break out an extra-heavy rod and a reel spooled with 80-pound braid. For Blackshear, 30-pound braid is light string.
"If you're going to catch a bigger bass you have to have the right gear," he says. He thinks fluorocarbon is prone to snapping. "Drop a 15-pound weight. It'll snap 15-pound line. And there goes your chance of landing a big bass," he says.
Anyone who talks with Blackshear can't help but notice conviction and confidence run thick through his veins. He attributes it to his strong Christian faith. He feels he has God's favor when he's fishing. There's a practical side too. "You can't go out and catch big fish if you are constantly doubting yourself," he says.
Let's get into this big bass hunter's mind and see how he approaches the fishery:
The Texas-rig is tried and true. Blackshear's go-to is nothing fancy, a 10-inch Berkley Power Worm in green pumpkin. It's accounted for two of his tens. "It's so simple, like going back to basics. If you throw them enough, eventually you're going to hook a big bass. Whether you land it is on the fisherman," he says.
Trade bites for quality. Blackshear also likes the Reaction Innovation Sweet Beaver, again in large sizes. "The original creature bait just flat out catches fish. If you put it on a jig you'll have fewer bites, but they'll be bigger fish," he says.
Don't peg your baits or fish them too heavy. Overweight baits dig unnaturally into the bottom. In five feet, 1/8 ounce is probably enough. For 12, try 3/8 or ½ ounce.
If you can feel the bait on the bottom, you're good. "You want it sliding over the bottom," he says. Don't worry about imparting too much action. "I'm kicked back, relaxing, making it an easy meal," he says. If there's a little bit of wind, he won't even reel.
Swing for the fences. If you want to catch a big bass, stay away from the small lakes. "Your chances will be slim. Falcon, Lake Fork, Lake Austin, Dunlap, Town Lakes, Decker, those are your best chances," he says.
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