Norman O'Neal grew up fishing on the Red River. As a river striper guide below the Lake Texoma Dam in Denison, Texas, O'Neal has put clients on numerous big fish over the years.
But he's never had a day like Tuesday, when he and his best friend landed three 30-pound stripers within 30 minutes of each other.
What started as an afternoon fishing trip just to relax ended as a fishing adventure that never will be forgotten by O'Neal and Mitch Parsons of Sherman, Texas.
“I've been a fishing guide for more than 20 years and I have never boated three stripers in one day over 30 pounds,” O'Neal said.
The three stripers weighed 31, 35 and 38 pounds. After getting a tankful of gizzard shad bait from Lake Texoma, the pair of anglers headed down the river in an airboat to some holes where O'Neal has caught big fish before.
“I usually balloon (fish) this time of year, but decided to see just how aggressive the fish were going to be so I opted for free lining,” O'Neal said. “As soon as my bait hit the water it was getting hammered.”
The first striper caught on Tuesday weighed 16 pounds. The next fish started taking line, and after a long battle it weighed in at a whopping 35 pounds.
On the very next cast, O'Neal caught a striper weighing 31 pounds, the first time he ever experienced two 30-plus pound stripers on back to back casts.
But the best was yet to come. Several 14- to 18-pound stripers were immediately hooked, then the action seemed to slow as the sun was setting.
“Mitch had been complaining to me about it not being fair, me catching two big hogs like that,” O'Neal said.
That's when the pole in the front rod holder on the boat bent over.
“I told him to grab that one,” O'Neal said. “I knew this fish was a toad as it never quit taking line for a few minutes. Mitch struggled with the fish for a long time before he finally got the best of it.”
It would be the biggest striper of the day, weighing more than 38 pounds. O'Neal returned two of the big stripers to the river and would have released the third, but it didn't live.
“I have to say this was a trip of a lifetime,” O'Neal said. “I am thankful I had my best friend in the boat with me.”
For more information about striper fishing on the Red River, call O'Neal at (903) 624-4900.