Donnie O’Neal, an avid bass angler from Pflugerville, has a big fish tale that’s almost too hard to believe.
Good thing he had a picture to prove it.
O’Neal was fishing on lunker largemouth hot spot Lake Austin on April 28, hoping to find a 13-pound bass to enter into the Toyota ShareLunker program, a selective breeding initiative spearheaded by fisheries biologists, according to a news release. On a single cast he managed a 19-pounder, which ended up being two huge bass.
O’Neal’s catches on a YUM Flash Mob Jr. consisted of one bass weighing 7.8 pounds, and a second weighing 11.8.
He also 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, a huge day for any angler.
About 10:15 a.m. he felt a strike and set the hook, but came up empty. Quickly he cast again to the same spot and let the FMJ sink to the bottom. He pumped it once and began a slow, steady retrieve. After a big hit, he told his partner to get a 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. 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. He said he has tried more than two-dozen umbrella rigs and brands since the technique hit the mainstream, but now fishes the Flash Mob Jr. exclusively. He took sixth place in an EverStart event last month on Lake Texoma.
He said that since he started fishing the FMJ he has caught doubles four times. Both bass were released healthy back into Lake Austin.
The ShareLunker program season ended April 30.