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HIGHSTAKESBASSIN.COM 2019 – A Year and Decade in Review

8 years……8 freaking years. I have spent the last several hours going all the way back to my blog days, pre- High Stakes Bassin, reminiscing. I won’t lie….a few tears were shed and a lot of laughs too. Zapata, TX has blessed my family with sooooooo much. I wish I had pictures of everyone in this town that I see on a weekly if not daily basis. From the ladies at the bank, Mike at the Valero gas station, Nacho from Zapata National, the ladies at the Subway, the folks at Tractor Supply, my wonderful neighbors and the folks who live in my neighborhood, the teachers, coaches and custodial staff at the schools, Abby from the clinic, etc, etc, etc, etc. The list goes on and on and on. I know I have said this many times over, but Zapata, TX is the most special (don’t mind my grammar) community I have ever been a part of. And of course there is all of you out there that have come to Zapata, TX to fish Falcon or Sugar Lake with me. I have no words to properly express my gratitude. My family thanks you many times over. Let’s get to the meat of this report and as the title says…..let’s put a bow on 2019 and take a look back at the year that was 2019.

 

January –

2019 started off with a grrrrrrrreat rattle trap bite in the creeks. All you had to do is find new growth and fence lines and it was on like Donkey Kong most days. Here are a few nice fish that fell for that pattern.

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January also saw Dave get a new personal best that nearly went 10 lbs.

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February –

It was all about warm weather in February…..when we got a warming trend it was bonkers. When we didn’t? It was tough sledding. The pattern changed dramatically as well. It was all about pitching and flipping in February. This pattern would remain the go to pattern for the next couple of months as well. It wasn’t till mid April until we started to get out of the hardwoods and bushes. The best pitching bait? Berkley Havoc Pit Bosses. The key was rigging them without a peg and a 4/0 heavy gauge flipping hook. (drastically improved the hook up %) Here are a few that were caught using those tactics.

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and my girlies got into the act in February as well….

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February also marked the beginning of our house addition. What a loooooooooooong process that would begin.

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March –

As mentioned above the bite was still knee deep in the timber and as can be seen in the background of these picks hardwoods were a major player. Another big player was the terrible weather we had most of the month. Very uncharacteristic for the month of March here on Falcon. Here are a few good ones from March.

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April –

The month of April is when 2019 started to go full nuclear. I’m serious, an epic epic epic run that would last through the summer. This was probably my favorite month of 2019. The lake was fishing as big as it has in years. Did you want to pitch plastics shallow? Go ahead there was a fish in every tree. Did you want to crank out on humps and points? Grab ya a 6xd and and plow rocks for great day. April was also the only month of the year where I got into a damn good crankbait bite. For whatever reason this year I just could not get the deep crankbait bite, that Falcon is known for, going. April was the lone exception. April was also the first month that I got to see my folks. Mom and Dad came down to the border to have some quality time and to get into 80 degree weather. Here are a few good ones from April including the first DD of 2019.

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May –

Falcon continued to fish HUGE. So much dag gone fun……most trips were spent 50/50 offshore and in the hardwoods. We had an absolute blast. I did have a scare with my back which unfortunately limited my trips this month. Luckily I made a full recovery and knock on wood we’ve been in good shape the rest of 2019. May also marked my first trip to Vegas for 2019 as well. It produced one of my very favorite photos of my Mom and I.

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I will have it framed no question.

Here are a few WALRUSES from May including Glenn’s new personal best.

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June –

The full on off shore bite was in full swing and it was truly magical. We were chunking BIG plastics like mag flukes, brush hogs and the biggest senkos we could find. The results? an epic walrus fest that was only beginning. Here are a few from the month of June including Lambo’s new personal best that just missed MEGA Walrus status.

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June was also a very special month for our family. We rescued a dog that was on his last leg and were prepared for heartbreak as he was not in good shape. With the help of awesome vets Benjamin made it and today you ask?

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Benji is living his best life and we are blessed to have him.

 

July –

The summer bite got no better than July. It was simply not believable most days. A few walruses from a hot July.

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I also went to Cleveland to watch the Tribe with my folks. My favorite pic of my Dad and I would be taken this trip. Much like my Mother’s pic in Vegas this pic of my Dad and I will be framed. I love this pic with all my heart.

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August –

August 2019 will go down as the month of the personal best and arguably the best month of my entire guiding career. None bigger than my main man Clayboa’s near miss 12 pound MEGA Walrus.

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Here are the other PB’s from August.

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……and the month went out in fine style with Steve’s new PB that punched his ticket to the DD club.

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My last Vegas trip took place in August as well.

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aaaaaaand our house addition was finally completed.

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Yes, August of 2019 was certainly one of the most memorable months of my life.

 

September –

The number off jobs fell off substantially in September. Unfortunately that’s nothing new as the fall months get a lot less play. Hunting and looming holidays play a roll in that for folks and I totally get it. This was the first month in a goooooood long time where the fishing really got spotty. Bang em one day and brutal the next. Quite frankly we’re still on that same cycle currently. Reality also began to set in that we were not going to get anything tropical to help our water levels. It’s been since 2012 that we didn’t pick up water during our rainy/tropical season. With that said our water levels are fine currently and we will be fine for the foreseeable future. Twelve months from now I hope we get blasted by Tropical Storm Tyrone. We are due to have a full lake to play in. Here are a few good ones from September including Joel’s near miss MEGA walrus personal best.

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October –

Jobs were once again at a premium. The fishing continued to be spotty at best. We were still offshore, but down sized our plastics a great deal. I also go lucky and found a wonderful school of fish off the main river channel. They were suspended in tree tops in 20 to 25 foot of water. Slow rolling spinnerbaits through the tops was the ticket. Unfortunately this school did not hold up for very long and I lost them after about 3 trips and haven’t found em since. Here are a few walruses from October.

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November – 

November started on Falcon Lake, Texas and ended in Erie, PA. The fishing took a notable turn for the worse this month and remains pretty damn tough heading into 2020. Not all days mind you, but if you fish 10 days in a row right now odds are 7 of them are going to be tough sledding. (jack pot spots need not apply) Here are a few from November.

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The girlies and I also took a family cruise to Mexico. We hit the weather jackpot and had so much fun. And selfie of the year goes to…….

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Angels….pure hearted, beautiful angels. (cover me up with your finger….might take two)

 

December –

Sick……sickest I have been in a decade plus. You would have to go back to my teaching days to find a time where I was this sick. I hit the trifecta with the flu, common cold, and then last but not least strep throat. 25 days of feeling terrible……I just could not get right. I am happy to report that I am at 93% heading into 2020 however and trending to 100%. The unfortunate part is that I had 11 jobs on the books at one point or another and ended up only fishing 4 days………BRUTAL. No walruses were boated in December. The highlights of December were a father/son trip that saw Jay and his son Tobin break crappie records for High Stakes Bassin. Not 1, not 2, not 3, not 4, but 5 crappie over 2 pounds.

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Another highlight was a Momma/Son combo of Becci and Austin. They were my last trip of 2019 and I couldn’t of asked for a better trip to wrap up my year. Those two were a guide’s dream. Even though the bite was brutally tough they never, not one time, stopped smiling and having fun. Two salt of the Earth folks…..Becci has done a remarkable job raising a terrific young man.

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Well that’s 2019 and the end of a decade. This decade started with me working in the public school system of Portsmouth, VA. I was battling more physical pain than I could handle. Dr. Mark Kerner of the Portsmouth Spine Institute gave me my life back in 2011 when he operated on my neck replacing 3 discs. I awoke from that surgery a new person and vowed to live my life every day as if it were my last. I told my superintendent and principal I was retiring from education and moving to the border to chase the dream of guiding on the best bass lake on the planet. They both laughed and probably thought I was high on pain meds. Told me to take my time and come back when I was healed up and thinking clearly. I never stepped foot in a school in VA again. Less than a month after my surgery we bought a house in Zapata, TX. My wife and I loaded up our 4 and 8 year old along with only a few possessions into a small uhaul. I hooked up my boat and in the middle of the night we headed to our new life along the border. I was still in a neck brace and could barely move my neck more than a couple inches either way. We had $230 bucks to our name in the bank and a credit card. My sister surprised us the night before and came over to wish us luck and handed us $500 dollars. We got to Zapata safely a day and a half later with no guarantees of what the future would hold. What an adventure the 2010’s were. Grab life by the ass folks…..with two damn hands. You have but one singular life to live.

 

To all of you still reading this…..I love ya and thanks for supporting my business all these years. See ya in 2020!!!

 

Jay

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