If you really want to confuse yourself, just pull out a map of Texas and try to convince yourself which of the numerous lakes on it is the best largemouth bass reservoir to go fishing this spring and summer. Fortunately for the Lone Star State’s bass fanatics, there are scores of lakes that could claim that notoriety and they can be found in every region of the state.
The spring and summer months are most anglers’ favorite times to go after bass. That’s true for several reasons beyond just those times providing more comfortable weather conditions. They also offer ideal conditions for anglers to use a wide range of fishing styles ranging from finesse worms to topwater plastic frogs, spinnerbaits, and drop-shot rigs to conventional Texas and Carolina rigs.
Take a trip with me across that Texas map and you will see what I’m talking about. Although the recent extreme drought took a toll on some reservoirs for a while, heavy rains that fell across much of the central, eastern and northern areas of the state in early to mid-October rejuvenated many of them. While conditions often change, the great bass fishing on the cream of the crop rarely does. Here are the lakes that consistently produce the best of the best and where your top choices are for action this spring and summer:
Caddo Lake located north of Marshall in far northeast Texas provides some of the best bass habitat to be found and in waters that average no deeper than 10 feet. Cypress trees abound, both in large forests and as single trees here and there. Aquatic vegetation including hydrilla, lotus and coontail moss can be found in the main-lake flats, cuts, ditches and along the main river channel.
Among the top bass-producing areas during the summer are Goose Prairie on the west side south of Uncertain, Big Cypress Bayou, and Martha’s Crossing just north of the big island at the mouth of Goose Prairie and Alligator Bayou, and at Stumpy Slough on the east side of the lake. Plastic frogs, Flukes and Texas-rigged plastic worms usually produce the best catches in those areas.
Farther southward lie three of the state’s largest and/or best-known reservoirs: 181,000-acre Toledo Bend, 114,000-acre Sam Rayburn and 27,264 Lake Fork. The two giants are loaded with hydrilla beds as well as eelgrass and coontail moss that produce scores of bass from early spring until late summer and early fall. Lake Fork, on the other hand, is loaded with lots of heavy stumps located throughout the reservoir.
Toledo Bend’s lake record largemouth bass was caught on July 3 2000 by Eric Weems and weighed 15.32 pounds. Sam Rayburn’s lake record was caught on May 31 1997 by Tommy Shelton and weighed 16.80 pounds.
Silvia Bend Point on Toledo Bend’s west side between County Road 2793 and Forest Service Road 100 as well as the secondary points in Bayou Seipe are two of my favorite places to start fishing during the early-morning hours. I’ll go with a Stanley Wedge Tail spinnerbait or a buzzbait. Scattered button willows on the extreme upper reaches on the Louisiana side also provide great action for flipping and pitching Texas-rigged worms.
At Sam Rayburn, my favorite starting place is Sandy Creek north of Broaddus. As with Caddo Lake and Toledo Bend, most of the bass at Sam Rayburn are caught around vegetation. I have caught scores of bass in the hybrilla, eelgrass and coontail mossbeds close to the small channel in Sandy Creek as well as that in the narrow cuts on stickbaits, plastic frogs and Texas-rigged worms for several years.
Lake Fork is, without a doubt, the premier bass-fishing lake in Texas when it comes to producing trophy-sized fish. Located near Quitman, Fork has produced 65 percent of the bass entered in the ShareLunker Program that uses donated fish weighing 13 pounds and larger for genetic studies and spawning purposes. Those include the current state record weighing 18.18 pounds and caught in January 1992 by Barry St. Clair while he was crappie fishing.
During the spring months, most Fork anglers target the shallows around weedbeds and stumps in the creeks. The action usually swings to the deepwater humps, ridges and points at the mouths of the major creeks, especially those areas near roadbeds and submerged stock tanks.
Although Lake Fork doesn’t have the alligator populations that its neighbors farther east — Toledo Bend and Sam Rayburn — have that provide some anglers with interesting encounters, another “alligator” lake” that ranks as one of the best bass fishing reservoirs in the state is Choke Canyon near Tilden. That lake, of course, is deep in the South Texas Brush Country.
Choke Canyon has lots of pondweed, coontail moss, cattails and rushes, but it also has lots of stumps and laydowns that provide habitat for bass. Shallow-running crankbaits, spinnerbaits, and Texas-rigged worms produce several double-digit bass every spring and summer. Using 20-pound or greater test line is highly recommended, especially when fishing tight in the timber.
The largest bass caught to date at Choke Canyon weighed 15.45 pounds and was caught on Jan. 21 2009 by Brad Bookmyer.
Heading farther west you will find the jewels of the Rio Grande: Falcon and Amistad reservoirs.
The two Texas-Mexico border impoundments are loaded with bass and cover. Caution and common sense should be exercised at all times and fishing only on the Texas side of these two lakes is highly recommended. A Mexico fishing license is required while fishing anywhere west of the Rio Grande channel.
At Falcon, the Big Tiger and Little Tiger Creek arms near Falcon Lake State Park, and Beckwith Point just to the north of the Tigers as well as Veleno Creek near the town of Zapata produce lots of bass during spring and summer. I fish plunker-type topwater lures and crankbaits early and then switch to black-and-blue jigs or Red Shad worms on Texas rigs once the sun rises high on the expansive 83,654-acre lake.