Texas angler sets personal best with 11.8-pound largemouth
When Pflugerville, Texas, bass angler Donnie O’Neal set the hook Sunday, April 28, he was hoping for a 13-pound-plus largemouth bass to donate to the Texas ShareLunker Program. What he landed weighed more than 19 pounds, but he still didn’t qualify for the Program. That’s because it wasn’t a single bass. It was two big fish, a personal best and a bonus bass that would make anyone happy. It’s the latest in a growing line of incredible stories of anglers throwing the YUM Flash Mob Jr. (FMJ).
O’Neal’s double-catch consisted of one bass weighing 7.8 pounds, and a second weighing 11.8 – more than 19 pounds on one cast!
“I let out the biggest holler,” he said. “I’d never caught a double-digit bass, and I’d been searching a long, long time for one.”
The ShareLunker Program stops accepting fish on April 30th, which is what motivated O’Neal to be on Lake Austin on Sunday the 28th. He’d told a friend he was going to be off the water by noon and was just going to fish for giants. He caught a 2.5-pound bass on his first cast, and before the big double he landed “10 or 11 fish in the 3- to 4-pound range.“
About 10:15 a.m. he felt a strike and set the hook, but came up empty. Quickly he casted again to the same spot and let the FMJ sink to the bottom. He pumped it once and began a slow, steady retrieve. After 8 to 10 turns of the reel handle the rod loaded up and he told his partner to grab the net.
“After a few seconds something just didn’t seem right,” he said. “The fish made surges like a striper, but they were short bursts, and it stayed down.”
O’Neal kept the rod low and slowly worked the fish up, and his heart sunk when he saw the shiny reflection of the fish in the water. It looked like striper.
“As the fish came up I noticed that it looked like the letter ‘L’ facing downward, then it became apparent that it was not a striper, and not just one fish, but two bass, and they were huge!”
O’Neal is a tournament angler fishing the FLW EverStart Series among other trails, and he has plenty of experience with castable umbrella rigs. He said he’s tried more than two-dozen different rigs and brands since the technique hit the mainstream, but now fishes the Flash Mob Jr. exclusively. He took sixth place in the EverStart event on Lake Texoma April 18-20 by fishing the FMJ.
“I’ve got 10 of them in my box,” he said. “Every time I go to Walmart I buy two or three more.”
O’Neal said he uses the FMJ over other brands because it’s the perfect size, with the right size willowleaf blades and wire. The blades create flash and vibration while adding more swimming action to the baits. He likes 3 ½- to 4-inch Money Minnows, Mud Minnows or other soft-plastic swimbaits, and uses shorter baits on the outer arms with a longer one in the center.
“The month of April was a true blessing to me, with a 6th Place finish at the FLW and my first double-digit largemouth and a new personal best,” he said. “Now to find a taxidermist to get a replica made.”
He said that since he started fishing the FMJ he’s caught doubles four times. Both bass were released healthy back into Lake Austin.
Image courtesy PRADCO Fishing