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Big fishin'

Lake Ray Roberts has experienced record catches in the last two months in what experts are calling a “perfect storm.”

“The lake is on fire right now,” said Ron Smith, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Inland Fisheries employee. “The nutrient load that the lake has received from the rain over the past couple of years has the lake doing very phenomenal right now.”

In February and March, anglers at the lake broke three records.

On March 16, Melissa resident Randy Davis reeled in the biggest catch of them all. Davis broke Trevor Gasaway’s 2009 blue catfish record of 53.09 pounds with a catch of 59.99 pounds.

“We started fishing at Pecan Creek at around 8 in the morning. We caught a couple of fish, but they weren’t anything special,” Davis said. “We had 10 rods on the boat. One rod was kind of loose so we tied a rope around that one to keep it secure.”

As fate would have it, that was the rod the catfish bit on.

“I said to myself, we got a big one here,” Davis said.

Davis said wrestling the fish into the boat left him worn out for the next two days.

“The adrenaline and excitement of everything had me spent,” Davis said as he laughed.

When Davis opened up the stomach of the fish, he stumbled upon a surprise.

“The catfish had two baby mallards in its stomach,” Davis said. “Catfish normally eat shad and other types of fish so you don’t ever see that. I had three meals for the price of one that night.”

On March 9, Irving resident Yue-Jiang Li broke Lindy Roberts’s 2008 hybrid striped bass record of 7.45 pounds with a catch of 9.83 pounds.

Smith said the rainfall combined with spawning season attracted bigger predators like the hybrid striped bass to the area.

“The nutrients in the lake feed the minnows, which brings about the larger predators in the food chain,” Smith said.

On Feb. 22, Denton resident Barrett McClendon broke Gale Kennedy’s 2012 spotted bass record of 3.96 pounds by reeling in a bass that weighed 4.22 pounds.

“Me and a buddy of mine were out practicing for a tournament in a shallow flat where spotted bass really shouldn’t be,” McClendon said. “We were at the right spot at the right time; sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good.”

McClendon points to the flood that occurred two years ago as the reason for so many fish in the lake.

“The lake’s fishing better than I’ve personally seen it and I go out there about five days a week,” McClendon said. “And it has everything to do with the flood for sure.”

McClendon’s next goal is to catch a 14-pound bass to donate to the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center’s ShareLunker program. Anglers can donate fish 13 pounds and above to the program for spawning purposes.

“That’d be very cool to catch,” he said.

McClendon has been an avid fisherman for over 15 years and this achievement is definitely an item he can check off his bucket list.

“I don’t see it holding up very long, but maybe it’ll be something I can show my kids one day,” McClendon said.

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