Sergeant 1st Class James Blake was out on Stillhouse Hollow Lake on Saturday morning.
Blake was teamed up with Sgt. 1st Class James Mergerson in The Brigadier General Charles B. Allen 5th Annual Memorial Bass Tournament.
At 7:20 a.m., Blake felt a pull on his line.
“It bit softly,” he said. “I didn’t think it was that big of a fish at all. My fishing partner asked me ‘You need a net?’ and I said, ‘No.’ Then it jumped out of the water and we saw the size. Then I said, ‘Yes, I need the net.’ It was huge.”
Blake kept reeling.
“It seemed like forever for me to bring it in,” he said. “But it actually was only four minutes before we had it in the boat.”
Blake boated an 8.6-pound bass.
“It was the biggest fish I’ve ever caught,” he said.
And it was the biggest fish caught during the six-hour tournament which ended at 1 p.m.
Blake and Mergerson won the “Biggest Bass” award and also captured first place with a five-fish total of 16.11 pounds.
“I think that the key for us winning this tournament was that we were both so relaxed about it,” Blake said. “We didn’t try to take ourselves too seriously. After all, this whole event was for a very good cause.”
The tournament honors the memory of Brig. Gen. Allen who died November 29, 2004. Allen, 54, and six other military personnel were killed in a Texas helicopter crash. While serving at Fort Hood, Allen often fished Stillhouse Hollow Lake and Belton Lake.
“What I’ve heard of Gen. Allen was that he was a great outdoorsman,” said Blake, who also participated in the event in 2013. “Today, I caught my biggest fish ever with my best friend. And all of this was a great way to honor a man who loved to do this
— be outdoors with friends of his who also loved to fish. I’m glad we’re able to honor Gen. Allen like this.”
Brig. Gen. Allen’s 27-year-old son Brian flew in from his Washington, D.C. home to attend the event.
“It meant so much to me to be here and hear stories about my father,” Brian said. “And it’s also important for me to be here to honor those still serving. I’m glad that my father is being honored while, at the same time, everyone involved was able to enjoy a fun day on the water.”
Before leaving Texas for home, Brian said, “I do want to extend my thanks to Cliff Brown, owner of Texas Boat World, for everything he’s done for this event the past five years. He’s been with us from the beginning.”
Brian Allen earned the “Biggest Bass” award in the inaugural event five years ago.
“Well,” he said with a smile, “I had a tremendous year right off the bat. But I haven’t had the best of luck in the water since. But, always, this event remains fun for me and, of course, is very meaningful to my family and myself. Absolutely nothing will keep me from coming back again here next year.”
Also promising to return are Blake and Mergerson.
“We’ll be back next year for sure,” Blake said. “We call ourselves ‘Team Bigfoot’ and ‘Team Bigfoot’ will compete again next year in this event.”
The duo had the words “Team Bigfoot” emblazoned on their sweatshirts.
“Sergeant Mergerson claims to see Bigfoot once a month so that’s where we get that team nickname,” Blake said. “It’s all in good fun and this event, while honoring the memory of a great man, is also about making sure we have fun.”