Three thirty a.m. came early yesterday especially when you consider my head didn’t land on a pillow until midnight. Sounds ridiculous, I’m aware; however, trying to sleep with Striper fishing dancing around in my head was almost an impossible task.
When my alarm sounded I was up-an-at-‘em for a short 2.5 hour trip on southbound I-35 to Lake Texoma. Clearly, coffee and a legit playlist played a significant role in this Chickasaw Country road trip.
This was my first visit to Lake Texoma, and my heart was overwhelmed with the scenery, crisp morning air and promise of record-breaking Stripers. The largest lake in Chickasaw Country, the 93,000 acres of water crossing the Texas-Oklahoma border, is literally a playground for water sport adventures.
I arrived at the dock at 7:08. Only eight minutes late. Not too shabby if I do say so myself.
While doing research for a feature story for Distinctly Oklahoma’s May issue, I was introduced to Larry Kessler and Shawn Summit co-owners of Texoma "T" Striper Guide Service. The invitation to visit Lake Texoma and go on my own fishing excursion was open for approximately .002 seconds before I replied, "Absolutely. Yes. Ringing affirmative. When?"
After my experience, there’s no way I can fish any other way. Shawn, Captain Ron as I’d like to call him from now on (Movie? Early 90s?), should win an award for best guide in the continental US. For starters, when he didn’t roll his eyes after I sang/yelled "I’m on a boat" within seconds of our fishing adventure – I knew we were going to have a great morning. (If you didn’t get that reference, it’s fine, just keep reading…)
Early morning, the waters were calm. We reeled our first fish within minutes of dropping a line. By we, I mean I. I caught three fish within the first 10 minutes.
To be fair, Shawn knew the honey spots. Honey spots? I’m not really sure if that’s a "fishing term," but what I mean is… Shawn knew exactly where to take us on the lake. Obviously, that’s why he’s a guide.
Did I mention I had a side kick? Abe was with me filming the adventures for… wait for it… a video of the trip. Yes, that’s correct. You’ll get to see all the awkwardness that is your travel writer, me, fishing Lake Texoma for the first time. Sorry in advance, truly.
That’s Larry’s boat. His passengers were not so thrilled I was out fishing them. The combination of my mad fishing skills and Shawn’s ability to navigate the boat into the waters filled with fish begging for me to reel them in were unparalleled.
And, they were creeping on my turf.
This is about when Shawn asked if we could handle a little rough water in exchange for a "monster-of-a-fish." I’m not 100 percent sure if he said "monster-of-a-fish," or if that was just my personal goal, but that’s what I’m pretty sure I heard him say.
So we left the calm waters behind in search of a record-breaking monster-of-a-fish.
The prospect of reeling in a "big one," and showing the proof to my dad and little brother was so intense I began to take on a whole new persona. A persona that included an accent boasting the confidence of Chuck Norris, the sarcasm of Blake Shelton and the pure awesomeness of Crocodile Dundee.
I couldn’t be stopped.
The skies grew darker, the waves began crashing against the boat and my heart began to race. Prepared for the rain - I was ready to fish like a boss.
Insider information: I was working off four poles. I’d tell you relevant information if I knew it, but Shawn had it under control. All I’m confident of is that three of the poles were yellow and one was black. The latter – was magical.
There I was – my eyes dancing between four poles. The boat was rocking with the crashing waves, my footing was uneasy. Then, it happened. The pole on the back-left corner of the boat jerked with force catching my utmost attention. Leaping forward, I grabbed the pole and began reeling it in in one swift ninja-like motion.
This catch was unlike the previous 17.
Over my shoulder, I yelled to Shawn over the ruckus of the Oklahoma weather, "This is either a really big fish or I’m a really big wimp." Honestly, I was really praying it wasn’t the latter.
Check out that champ.
I won’t even need to lie to my grandkids someday about the monster-of-a-fish I caught during the spring of 2012, because it’s the truth. I’m considering retiring at the ripe age of twenty-something and moving to Lake Texoma.
This six-hour trip was worth waking up in the 3 o’clocks. I’d do it again tomorrow, and the day after that.
Striper fishing is a hot commodity in Chickasaw Country. There are hundreds of guides on the lake who provide fishing excursions, but I’m doubtful many will be as entertaining as my new friend, Shawn.
Thanks, Texoma "T" for a perfect Tuesday. I always knew Tuesdays were my favorite.