Claw Hand and Swinging Fish - Major League Fishing
Claw Hand and Swinging Fish
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Claw Hand and Swinging Fish

October 6, 2008 • Curt Niedermier • Angler Columns

The amount of water necessary to raise Lake Amistad 16 feet is ridiculous. When full, Amistad covers more than 60,000 acres. It’s huge. And it was full last week thanks to a 16-foot rise when I spent two days on the lake with Walmart FLWTour pro Keith Combs and Stren Series pro Tim Reneau.

Our intentions were to flip deep grass beds, but there was nothing doing in what was then buried beneath 30 some feet of water. Instead, we fished topwater all day for two days. Yeah, Iwas obviously upset about the idea of throwing Reaction Innovations Swamp Donkey frogs and Vixen topwaters, two of the most exciting lure types around. I just knew the explosive surface strikes and reel-busting hooksets would be no fun. Since I just met my quota for sarcasm, here’s a bit about my trip:

I learned something about topwater fishing. Put in two 11-hour days in a row throwing nothing but topwaters, and it’ll turn your left hand into a deformed claw. Constant twitching and popping works out muscles and joints I didn’t know could be sore.The guys here in the office apparently don’t feel sorry for me, because every time I rub the soreness out of my hand theymake fake whimpers and sarcastic pouty lips, as if to say, “Yeah, it must have been horrible.”

The fishing was like nothing I’ve done before. We lost ourselves in flooded treetops, huisache bushes and various other thorn-encrusted vegetation. We went into rattlesnake territory and threw our topwater lures under, over and through branches and yanked bass back to the boat. That’s about the only way Reneau and Combs fish when on Amistad. They might finesse fish on other lakes, but on Amistad, it’s power fishing — hence the title of the company Reneau owns and Keith works for:Power Tackle.

If you don’t know about Power Tackle, I’ll sum:Power Tackle rods have built-in nets. Not literally, but the rods are so strong neither pro keeps a net in his boat. They swing everything. Two-pounders, 3-pounders, 4-pounders, even fish in the teens, they swingthem all. I heard this phrase, “Watch out Curt, I’m going to swing it,”from Combs at least a dozen times, often followed by a 4- or 5-pounder sailing into the boat.

I also tested a new Power Tackle Rod, the PG143 610. It’s a 6-foot, 10-inch mid-sized rod, as opposed to the standard whuppin’ sticks they produce. Like it’s big brothers, it’s incredibly sensitive, lightweight (something like 4 ounces), has a moderate action for controlling big fish, and it’s strong enough to swing big bass. I threw the Vixen on the 143 and loved it. I could sling that topwater a mile, but I could also whip it accurately up under overhanging branches without too many hangups, although I could use a bit more practice.

Most of the fish we caught came from about 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. During that midday period, millions of insects looking for refuge from the rising water buzzed around shallow backwaters. Apparently Amistad bass have a fondness for dragonflies. They leapt from the water to snag dragonflies from mid-air, off branches and off the water’s surface, putting on a show the entire time. Whenever we saw one jump, it was a race to see who could drop a lure on it first. The aggressive fish, ifit was still there, usually busted the lure almost immediately after it hit.

We didn’t land many giants, but we were into fish all day. And catching bass on topwaters in flooded trees and wrenching them back through the thick stuff is nothing short of the most exciting fishing I’ve ever experienced.

Check out for some videos of the guys swinging big South Texas bass, and to take a look at their rod lines. Combs is also a guide on Amistad. If you’re looking to book a trip, he’s a standup guy with a lot of bass-fishing experience. And he has the traits a good guide should. He’ll give an honest assessment of the fishing to expect, and he’ll work his tail off to make it the kind of outing you prefer.