As the 49 two-anglers teams that participated in Tuesday’s 3X9 Series bass tournament at Stillhouse Hollow lined up to weigh in their catch, one very excited teen stood among them.
Fifteen-year-old Mathew Perry captured a large fish, and he was just biding his time to find out just how large it was.
Perry is no stranger to competitive fishing, and this catch was no stroke of luck. This young man and his partner, another teen by the name of Colton Hill, ground it out this night, as they have on many Tuesday nights competing against adult anglers.
Perry just returned to Central Texas with his angling skills freshly honed after attending “Camp Bass” at Lake Fork, a summer program on this well-known east Texas bass factory, to which only 36 youth nationwide were invited.
At around 8:45 on Tuesday night, Perry, Hill, and Hill’s grandfather, Burl Hill, who served as the boys’ boat driver, were fishing deep water near a bluff wall on the lower end of the lake, near the dam. The trio located a stand of trees. Perry singled out one tree and chose to fish it with a drop-shot rig.
Perry’s bait was a Zoom soft plastic worm in “Morning Dawn” color. As Perry hooked and played the smallmouth bass to boatside, Colton prepared the net and the two worked together to get the fish in the boat and began taking care of it to keep it in excellent condition for weigh-in and release.
After the fish was weighed in on noncertified tournament scales and Perry and his father realized there was potential for Perry’s fish to exceed the weight of the current lake record, they contacted me in my capacity as an official Texas Parks and Wildlife Department weigh station.
So as to reduce handling and stress on the fish in order to increase its odds of survival following release, I went to the tournament weigh-in site with my certified scale in hand. This allowed Perry to keep the fish in an aerated livewell right up until we weighed and measured the fish.
Fellow angler Chad Thiel served as a witness to the measurement of the fish and to the weighing of it.
The fish measured exactly 19.5 inches with its mouth shut and tail lobes pinched together. The fish weighed 3.25 pounds, thus surpassing the weight of the previous Junior Angler category lake record smallmouth landed on June 17.
Ironically, the record that this fish eclipsed was that of Perry’s fishing partner Hill. Hill landed a 20-inch, 2.88-pound smallmouth.
Perry’s fishing prowess and potential have drawn the attention of well-known players in the fishing industry like Lake Fork Trophy Lures and Power Tackle Rods. He has junior pro status with both.
Perry’s plans for the upcoming year include pursuit of academics and more at the “New Tech” technical high school in Belton, and continued participation with the Cen-Tex Youth Bass Hunters fishing club.
Looking forward, Perry has his sights set on participation in a collegiate fishing team; Texas A&M and Texas are high on his list.
Perry’s experience with Tightlines Premium Fishing Tackle’s 3X9 Series has been positive. Said Perry, “Tightlines puts on an amazing tournament. It’s a good, fun tournament that you can just come and find respectful people.”
Perry will receive a water body record fish certificate by mail from TPWD, and the catch will also be listed on the TPWD’s electronic fish record database in the weeks to come.