With another great event in the record books and a sliver of free time, it’s time to put together my (Zach) 2017 Austin Team Championship experience. This year I was teamed up with fellow Big Carp News contributor Evan Cartabiano. Having never fished with him before is a little nerve wracking as you never know how you’ll get along with someone on the banks. I feel that we hit it off pretty well and I’ll enjoy further time on the bank with him. The Big 6 format I think is a big improvement over an overall weight as it give everyone a chance to pull out a win or upset/comeback. It’s not as daunting going into the second day with only 1 or 2 fish on the board because a good second day can put you right in the top!
Due to family commitments I was not able to get down a day early so that left me driving straight thru and arriving after 5 pm on Wednesday the 22nd. Here’s a tip for anyone that is heading down. DO NOT go to the Walmart that is near the hotel to get your fishing license!!! I do it every year and I now average probably over 2 hours to get a license. This year the system was “down” and I had to go to a different store. Last year it took over an hour to find someone in the store that knew how to do it. Every year I think I’ll be fine going there and every year I get the same results and next year I will not be trying it! After securing my license and getting back to the hotel it was time to mingle and partake in a few drinks before hitting the bed for the early peg draw in the morning.
1st peg drawn. We pull the old power plant, a peg I have caught fish before (broke my pb 35lb 9oz) and if worked can produce some decent fish. 2nd peg drawn is 18. The is a down from I35 bridge and is in a pretty unassuming area behind some luxury apartments. This is the peg we return and ends up being put back a handful of times. It also ends up producing the big carp and 1st place in the event for the team that finally chose it!! Talk about upsetting. We grab our stuff and head to the old power plant. It’s not a long haul to carry any gear and the car is withing 50 yards so it is convenient. As the sun rises Town lake returns to its river roots and is ripping current. The issue with this peg is that it’s a narrow area and we needed 6+ ounces to hold bottom as well as being loaded with snags. I lost more tackle in the first few hours than I lost all of last year. Evan managed to pick up a few grass carp from out of the current while I caught a lot of tree limbs and rocks. He struck with the first carp of the day at a lovely 23lb even. After having a bit of time to think I decided to take a rod to place it on our far right next to the old power plant building. There was an area of slack water and we knew it would have to produce a fish. After placing my rig and some bait in the area the wait was on. The rest of the afternoon was pretty quite by us and while we were sitting on the grassy hillside chatting away we hear a faint bite alarm and had forgotten that we had put the lone rod just at the edge of hearing range. The area the rod was in was quite tight for 12ft rods and I had regretted not leaving my 10ft Nash Scopes in my van. After a pretty stressful fight we got the carp netted and weighed in at 21lb even. It sure felt good to get a fish on the board and know now that I would not blank (unlike last year!).
We did the normal BCT thing after the first day and headed to the Clay Pit with a few friends. Luckily this was a pretty easy, hilarious (thanks to Mark), and sober evening which is not always the case at the ATC. We managed to get our heads down relatively early for the next morning.
This morning we pulled Peg 18 again, which we put back the prior morning, and was 1st place after day one. We also drew one of the I-35 swims which had zero action the day prior. It was obvious which one that we would choose. Peg 18 is a nice easy peg to fish. Located behind a luxury apartment complex with a nice running/walking path makes for easy access. The 2 “issues” would be the lack of a bathroom unless you went quite a walk to the gas station and the kayak rental place down the bank which could be a hassle if it were the weekend. We only had one lady get into our lines which for Austin is amazing. We had a few fish crashing at distance while we were setting up and we managed to hold a few in the area when we started baiting. I had the first run of the day pretty quickly. Just as Evan scooped my catch into the net his rod peeled off. Now I had to scramble to unhook and retain my fish while Evan battled his. We were totally prepared with only setting up one net as well. In quick time we had Evans fish netted and retained. We were lucky because as we netted the second fish Kevin just happened to be walking by so we were ready for photos. My fish definitely had been eating bait while swimming around as it decided to relieve itself not only inside the cradle but all over my arm when I raised it for the photo. The morning looked quite promising with a brace of 20’s. Unfortunately no matter what we tried we could not get another run and spent the day watching the scenery and talking about all things carpy and some things that weren’t.
The fishing had come to an end and we headed back to the hotel to regroup and freshen up for the banquet. The restaurant was pretty awesome and I’ll have to go back one day. The hospitality is one of the selling aspects of the whole event as everyone feels like family. I wish I could have more positive things to say however I started to suffer from an extremely painful migraine and headed back to the hotel to crash as early as I could. I am positive that everyone had a blast at the banquet and after, I unfortunately could not join them.
All in all it was another awesome year at the ATC and the organizers were top notch again, like always! We hope to see you down there next year!