Spring fishing in Texas has never been better. Whether you’re angling for slabs or planning on slamming catfish, these are the best places to hit.
Crappie, Lake Granger
Veteran fishing guide Tommy Tidwell says March is one of the top times of the year to load the ice chests with lots of big white and black crappie. The fish are in the spawning mode and will be in some of the thickest cover Lake Granger has to offer.
Tidwell said brushpiles, laydowns and anything else in water as shallow as 1 foot will attract crappie looking for places to spawn.
There are good crappie hangouts in the San Gabriel River, but the lower end of the lake also has lots of laydowns, stumps and willows in shallow, turbid water.
A slip-cork fished on a 1/8-ounce weight and crappie hook with a small minnow works well, but if you prefer crappie jigs they will occasionally work just as well if the fish are in an aggressive mood.
Catfish, Lake Tawakoni
You absolutely will not find another lake in Texas that not only has but also continues to have the best fishing for eating-sized channel and blue catfish. After all, Lake Tawakoni did not get its endorsement from the Texas Legislature as the ‚ÄúCatfish Capitol of Texas‚ÄĚ for no reason.
Literally hundreds of channel and blue catfish from 1¬†1/2 to 4 pounds are caught from the East Texas lake daily, and it seems incredible that the lake keeps reproducing its incredible numbers of fish week, month and year after year.
During the spring, the catfish will be in shallow water. If the lake‚Äôs water level is up, there will be acres of flooded willows along its west shoreline, all the way from the Two Mile Bridge to Wolf Creek.
Local fishing guides keep several areas in the willows baited with soured maize to draw the fish in, but the average angler can do the same simply by chumming out an area an hour or two before fishing. As fishing guide George Rule once said, ‚ÄúGive them food and they will come.‚ÄĚ
White Bass, Lake Aquilla
This little lake may be overshadowed by its larger next-door neighbor, Lake Whitney, but it‚Äôs a giant when it comes to producing action-packed white bass action. And this year‚Äôs early spawn of threadfin shad and other baitfish is now just the right size to begin roaming the lake in large packs that attract the larger predator fish.
The lower end of Aquilla typically produces the best catches. The face of the dam as well and Triplet Point are excellent places to look for the hard-battling and tasty panfish.
Topwater lures, lipless crankbaits like Rat-L-Traps, and Slabs usually are all you need in your tackle arsenal to catch scores of feeding whites.
With the temperatures beginning to warm, start early while the weather still is pleasant and you‚Äôll probably have your limits of fish by 10 a.m.
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MSRP: Pricing starts at $22,195.
The 186 VLO measures in at 18 feet 9 inches with an 89-inch beam. The boat is built on a fiberglass, foam-filled hull and weighs in at 1,450 pounds and can hold a payload of 1,320 pounds. Maximum room is devoted to rod and tackle storage and fishing deck. VLO comes with a cus-tom-built, single axle trailer with submersible lights, a swing jack and a swing-away tongue.
The YUMphibian creature bait has two small swimming arms at the top, a pair of longer curl tails at the end, and two big ‚Äúflappers‚ÄĚ at the mid-point. Pitch it, flip it, or work it deep. Customize by pinching off appendag-es to create less water disturbance for finicky or pressured fish. 4 1/2, 5 1/4 and 6 inches in 10 color options.
Suzuki‚Äôs two new four-stroke, two-cylinder portable outboards have a compression reduction system for easier starting. The 20hp tiller model weighs 97 pounds the eletric-start model weighs 106 pounds. Single overhead cam, four-valve engine with Suzuki‚Äôs Lean Burn Control and bat-tery-less electronic fuel injection. Built for running in skinny water, both motors come with five tilt pin positions and 15- or 20-inch shaft.
Shakespeare‚Äôs new Micro Series Combos provide lightweight actions and are suited perfectly for panfish. They come in spinning and spin-casting models with high-quality components and each is spooled with Stren monofilament.
Ranger Boat is introducing a line of aluminum boats called The Tourna-ment Series. There are three models:
‚ÄĘ RT 178 sports a 17-foot, 8-inch bass configuration.
‚ÄĘ RT 178C has a similar platform (17 feet, 8 inches) but designed for crap-pie and multispecies angling.
‚ÄĘ RT188, an 18-foot, 8-inch bass de-sign rated for 115 horsepower.
Rapala is hoping the new Scatter Rap Series lures and their ‚Äúevasive action‚ÄĚ will be as popular as the original ‚Äúwounded minnow‚ÄĚ style action that the company is famous for. The new lure has a ‚ÄúScatter Lip‚ÄĚ that creates an evasive, erratic, aggressive sweep-ing action. Ideal for multispecies gamefish, the Scatter Rap Series is available in 14-16 classic and new color patterns. Baits 5- to 9-feet deep.
YUM‚Äôs F2 MightEE Worm is 10 1/2-inches long, has an arrowhead shaped bulge toward the end and is made for big bass. Because the worm tapers to a smaller circumference before blow-ing back out to the bulge, the tail sec-tion wags back-and-forth in the water with each breath of current.
On-the-go anglers will find a lot to like in Plano‚Äôs new Flex ‚ÄėN Go Tack-le Satchel. It features adjustable built-in storage with a deep bin on one side and framework for the pair of swap-pable Plano 3600 StowAway boxes on the other, each Stowaway held with a flexible strap.
Honda Marine‚Äôs BF250 outboard is a 24-valve 3.6-liter V6 that uses varia-ble valve timing and lift electronic control (VTEC). Programmed fuel injection delivers the precise amount of fuel and air to each cylinder for easy starts and instant throttle re-sponse. 20-, 25- and 30-inch shaft models.
MSRP, $18.95 per pair.
The original Gear Grabbar is a unique way to hold lures and tools at the ready in boats. But the new Lure Hangar is a step beyond. This is a 12- by 16 1/2-inch plate,m ade to mount on your gunwhale, that holds 16 or more lures. There‚Äôs enough room for a selection of jig, plugs, topwaters or whatever other baits you want to hang.
Triton‚Äôs 21 TrX measures 21 feet and features a 95-inch beam. The bow has a 20 percent larger fishing area than last year‚Äôs model. A bow panel is ready for flush-mount electronics up to 12 inches, and has an organizer for pliers and baits. Stows 24 rods in the bow, 10 more in the center locker and another 14 in the port side. tri-tonboats.com.
MSRP,Package of 12 Juice Worms $3.49.
Designed by Boyd Duckett, the new Havoc Juice Worm gives anglers more action which produces more strikes than any other worms on the market. The slim ribbed 8-inch body has a long, flexible ribbon tail that produces a unique swimming action. 20 colors.
G-Loomis‚ÄôJig and Worms Serie GLX rods offer sensitivity to feel the bite and the power to control the fish. GLX models feature Fuji Titanium SIC guides, along with a new proprie-tary reel seat and split-grip handle configurations.
Crestliner‚Äôs VT19 has a .100 gauge aluminum hull, is 19 feet long with a 91-inch beam. Rated for 150 horse-power and has a top speed of 60 mph. 1,085 pounds and a maximum pay-load of 1,300 pounds. An elevated starboard console has a windscreen, switch panel, gauges and in-dash Lowrance depth finder. 30-gallon aerated livewell. Motor Guide trolling motor.
If you wade when you fish, Fish-N-Hunt Pro Gear designed a Tackle Tote Vest that to keep gear accessible but dry when you‚Äôre standing in deeper waters. It‚Äôs adjustable, sturdy, has lots of pockets and a modest pricetag.
MSRP, Jacket $249.99-$269;
Cabela‚Äôs Guidewear raingear now comes in four distinct series. Bass Angler (pictured) jackets and bibs are built with the tournament bass angler in mind. Xtreme parkas and bibs will help anglers fishing Northern lakes and rivers. Tidal jackets and pants offer lightweight, waterproof and breathable protection. River Runner jackets are perfect for wading anglers.
MSRP, $18,178-$22,950, no motor, trailer.
Carolina Skiff‚Äôs DLV Series is an unsinkable, all-fiberglass, modified-V hull designed for offshore or shallow-water fishing. The series has five siz-es, from the 17-foot DLV 178 with a 90-horsepower outboard to the 25-foot DLV 258 that powers up with a 200hp. High-speed bilge pump, cush-ion seat set, built-in cooler and plenty of storage.
Abu Garcia‚Äôs Revo SX baitcasting reel is now 25 percent lighter than before. The SX frame is crafted of a strong alloy while the handle sideplate are built with weight-reducing C6 carbon. Holds 145 yards of 12-pound mono.
Anglers who use jar baits know it‚Äôs a pain to carry more than a few. Berk-ley now has two Jar Bait Folders to keep the baits at hand and make them easy to transport. Model 1170 holds 10 jars. Model 1490 holds 16. Both have various pockets and a D-ring for pliers.
Berkley says they‚Äôve improved a classic. New Trilene XL lines are now 10 percent stronger 20 percent more flexibility then they had been. Knot strength has also improved, said the company. Trilene XL has been around since 1972.