Written by Conor Harrison, Lone Star Outdoor News
A friendly bet between two friends has turned into a race to catch the most Texas fish species in one calendar year, and both anglers have topped 100 with a little less than one month to go.
Bastrop angler Trent Lake, 33, and Corpus Christi angler Jon Mcintyre, 33, have been best friends and fishing buddies since they were kids, so the bet became a way to share their catches and try and best the other angler.
“He’s a saltwater guy,” said Lake, “so whenever I’d go fishing with him we’d try and catch all these different species. It became a fun game. We just decided to make it into a bet.”
Lake figured he was at a disadvantage living near freshwater, so the pair decided to handicap the bet, with Lake paying Mcintyre $1 for each species if he won, while Mcintyre would pay lake $5 for every species if he won.
So far, Lake has caught 101 different species, while Mcintyre is winning with 107 (Lake currently owes $6).
Both anglers have gone far and wide to catch as many species as possible — the pair, not counting duplicate fish, have caught 137 different types of Texas fish.
“I have no clue about the total number of fish species in Texas,” Lake said. “I’ve caught everything from a 5-foot blacktip shark to a 2-inch minnow with the tiniest available hook and a tiny piece of bread.”
Mcintyre said he has learned a lot about the saltwater species he focuses on, especially baitfish. The pair would often perform a necropsy on fish they would catch to see what they were eating, and then match their bait to what they were seeing.
“We cast-netted a lot to see what was around and what things were eating,” Mcintyre said. “This has definitely gotten me out and doing some things I normally wouldn’t do. I caught my first permit in Texas this year in shallow water — it was about 6 inches long. But I’ve also caught a tarpon and a snook, so I doubt many Texans can say they’ve caught those three species this year.”
Mcintyre said he hooked about seven or eight tarpon on a pier before he landed one.
“I was fishing for Spanish mackerel when I caught the tarpon,” he said. “I’m still looking for a bull shark; Trent’s got one. I don’t have a bonita, either.”
The pair have both caught some interesting fish they needed help identifying.
“I’ve been plagued by a few fish,” Lake said. “I worked really hard to catch a rock bass and I’m still working on a warmouth and a rainbow trout. My goal is to catch three more freshwater species by the end of the year. I got lucky on a lizard fish, and I caught an orange filefish on the coast which was pretty cool.”
Mcintyre has also had his share of weird catches.
“The last fish I caught in Port Aransas was an oscillated flounder,” he said. “I had never heard of it. I may make it inland one more time, but I plan on heading offshore again and there are still a couple of stingrays I need around here.”
Lake’s sheepshead helped him place third in the CCA STAR Tournament this year, and his 17-pound channel catfish was one of the biggest to come out of the Colorado River.
Even though they have a competition going and often talk trash to each other, it has been a great experience for both.
“We are total nerds about fishing,” Lake said.