February 22, 2012
Texas anglers are blessed with so many waters to fish, so many fish to catch and so many ways to catch them that deciding where to go month to month demands some serious thinking.
From January to the end of the year, your choices of where to go and what to catch involve a wide variety of freshwater and saltwater species, as well as bodies of water that range from big to small.
Here are some of the lakes and the fish they have to offer. You may want to hang this Texas Fishing list next to your calendar!
This Rio Grande reservoir has become the gem of West Texas and there are few better places to enjoy the normally warmer climates of the winter than on its deep, clear waters with scores of steep, rocky canyons and its incredible largemouth bass fishing. If that weren't true, the numerous professional bass anglers who have competed there wouldn't have returned to purchase properties and build homes nearby.
During the pre-spawn period in January, bass move onto the windy points of the canyons and creeks to feed on shad and to search for spawning areas. By February, many of the bass on this warm-climate lake already are beginning to spawn while bass elsewhere across the state are just beginning to search for their own spawning grounds.
The bass typically search spawning areas and feed along the underwater ledges in 2 to 7 feet of water that drop off into 20-foot depths, especially those with brush on them. Red Shad worms and crankbaits usually work best for taking these fish.
This Texas-Oklahoma border lake on the Red River has long been a jugliner's dream. It has a population of some of the biggest blue catfish in the state. Most of them are caught during February by jugliners, but many rod-and-reel anglers have been surprised by the big brutes. In fact, the Texas record blue cat weighing more than 120 pounds was caught there by a rod-and-reel angler in 2004.
Juglining for catfish has become an event almost kin to the opening of deer season for many anglers. It isn't unusual to find a lakeside fishing camp or marina with groups of eight to 10 jugliners camped together to set and run their lines and simply have a good time in between.
Slickum Slough, Paw Paw Creek and Lebanon Point above the Willis Bridge on the north end of the lake have been among the most productive areas. Live shad and cut shad held about a foot off the bottom and fished along the edges of the main river channel and its tributaries catch most of the fish for jug and drift fishermen.
Hybrid Striped Bass
This relatively little lake north of Houston has been a sleeper among hybrid striped bass anglers. But sometimes a good secret is hard to keep. During March as the water temperatures begin to warm, the hybrids go on the prowl and can produce quick limits for anglers using both artificial and live bait.
Topwater action can be good when the fish are surfacing during the early and mid-morning hours, especially off the main-lake points that have sandy bottoms. Swim baits also produce some great catches when the hybrids are schooling or when they are prowling the points and flats.
When you locate schools of shad, you likely will locate schools of hybrid striped bass. If the topwater and swim bait action slows, switch to chrome Slabs and spoons and fish vertically by bouncing the lures off the bottom in the same areas.
Perhaps no other lake in the state has produced more eating-sized channel catfish than this reservoir of the Sabine River Authority located north of Wills Point. It is especially productive during the spring and summer months.
During early spring, the channel catfish move into flooded willows and cattails when the lake level is up. Look for them around trees at 13 to 15 feet of water near the channels on the upper end of the lake when the level is low.
The ticket to catches of large numbers of cats is to bait out areas you plan to fish with soured maize, and then to use punch bait on No.4 treble hooks, fished either on bobbers or straight lines. It isn't unusual for a fishing guide with four customers to see 100 channel catfish boated between just after daybreak until noon. Now that's great catfish action!
Find more solid Texas Fishing options for 2012 for May, June, July and August on page two!
This U.S. Army Corps of Engineers lake located north of Dallas isn't big in size but it is big in its crappie population. And catching crappie on Lavon is almost a no-brainer.
Fishing guide Billy Kilpatrick, who lives on its shorelines, suggests using 6- to 10-pound-test line with either small minnows or black-blue curlytail jigs and concentrating on fishing the brushpiles that have been set beneath the various bridges and around water plant concrete structures.
A sonar depthfinder is a virtual must for locating these brushpiles as well as individual stumps and limbs under the water at depths of 6 to 12 feet. Use light crappie hooks so that if you hang up you can straighten the hook out enough to pull free from the limbs rather than having to re-tie another hook.
Spotted Sea Trout
San Antonio Bay
If you want fast action from speckled trout, try San Antonio Bays' numerous oyster reefs at this time of the year. The specks literally gorge themselves on baitfish that they push up into the shallow water around the reefs and won't hesitate hitting live croaker or soft plastic lures.
Of the two baits, live croaker measuring between 2 and 3 inches rigged on a single hook will produce the fastest action. Plan to start fishing early and when you approach a shallow reef with water rippling over it, circle around downwind and slip in close to anchor so that you don't spook the feeding speckled trout — or the baitfish they are feeding on.
Speckled trout are among the best-tasting fish in the Texas bays and can provide a lot of post-fishing fun for family and friends.
As the only natural lake in Texas, Caddo Lake's dark East Texas waters have produced some of the best summertime bream fishing action around. Its average water depth is only about 10 feet and it is a literal maize off cypress trees draped with Spanish moss, duckweed, lotus, coontail moss and many other varieties of aquatic vegetation.
For bluegills, sunfish and other varieties of bream at this time of the year, look for openings in the moss and weedbeds where you can fish earthworms or commercial panfish baits. On bright sunny days, target the most shaded areas closer to the bank, beneath boat docks and behind large cypress trees with moss-lined bases.
There are numerous duck blinds on Caddo but several are either too shallow or have such large mossbeds leading to them that they are difficult to fish. If you find a duck blind where you can pitch a cork and baited hook into the shade, go for it. Most of the blinds provide good cover and habitat for the fish.
August is themonth for wade-fishing for redfish in the flats here. Look for tailing redfish as they feed along the bottoms in knee-deep water or less.
Just about any type of fishing gear from traditional baitcasters and spinning gear to fly-fishing equipment is ideal for catching these hard-fighting, shallow-running bruisers.
Some of the best action for wade-fishermen can be found just a few miles south of Port Mansfield. A variety of topwater lures rigged with curlytail grubs on 1-foot leaders off the lures as well as shrimptails, gold spoons and small jigs and flies produce great catches.
If you aren't into wade-fishing, simply drift the flats in a shallow-draft boat and cast soft plastics on leadhead jigs or sight-fish with semi-surface lures such as Red Fins.
Find out the best Texas Fishing options for September, October, November and December on page three!
Hybrid Striped Bass
Put the wind in your favor on this lake and you can expect to catch a quick limit of this white bass/striped bass hatchery-produced cross. Windblown areas such as points and along the face of the dam attract tons of baitfish, which in turn attract scores of hybrid striped bass.
If you start early, cast small clear, white or chrome topwater lures as close to the bank as possible and work them all the way back to the boat, especially if you are seeing surface activity. If not, cast swimbaits like Sassy Shads toward the bank and bring them back with a slow retrieve.
Late-evening action usually is found in the same areas of the mid- to lower end of the lake. Gulls, herons and egrets feeding in those areas often will signal a school of hybrid striped bass also feeding there.
Possum Kingdom Lake
Grab your favorite 1/8- or 1/4-ounce leadhead jig and head for the lower end of this Brazos River Authority lake northwest of Fort Worth. The steep bluffs with rocky ledges 6 to 8 feet below the surface as well as single age-old cedar trees and stumps near the Boy Scouts camp south of the South D&D boat ramp to the dam are sure bets for good October catches.
A good pattern is to start at daybreak with topwater lures at the mouth of Bluff Creek and then switch to jigs, small Sassy Shads and similar light-tackle lures later in the morning. Don't overlook the extreme back areas of Neely's Slough, Bluff Creek, Governor's Slough and Scenic Point.
If you head to the more off-color waters of the upper end of the lake above Costello Island, target the flats just south of Bird Island and the boat docks at Sky Camp, PK Lodge and just above Rock Creek Lodge with spinnerbaits, Texas-rigged worms and crankbaits.
If you don't want to go far but find quick action, the power plant outlet on the Eddleman side of this two-lake complex is the place to go. The water churning at the surface inside the cable-enclosed area attracts tons of baitfish as well as white bass and occasionally hybrid striped bass.
Prepare yourself early for this type of fishing with a 7-foot rod and a reel capable of making long casts from the cables to the water release area. Watch for white bass and hybrid stripers spraying scores of baitfish to the surface as they charge the schools occasionally to engulf all they can.
Weighted popping corks will help you get your bait or lures into the most active areas. Otherwise, heavy slabs and jigs will work but you will need to keep your rod tips held high and pump the lures to keep them close to the surface. Some fish also are caught on topwater lures there but the best action is on live bait and jigs under weighted corks or on slabs.
Guadalupe River/ Canyon Lake
If you want to catch trout larger than those stocked annually by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department in urban community lakes, the Brazos River and elsewhere, then the tailrace area below Canyon Lake, as well as the Guadalupe River downstream of the dam, is the place for you. The best fishing extends from December through early March.
That stretch of the Guadalupe is the only area in Texas that sustains a year-round population of rainbow trout, a fact due mainly to the colder temperatures in the river that allows for continual growth of those feisty fish.
The area of the river at the second bridge crossing on River Road upstream to the eastern bridge crossing on FM 306 is designated as an artificial-lure fishing area only, with an 18-inch minimum size limit and one-fish-per-day creel limit on trout. Otherwise, statewide five-fish, no minimum size regulations are in effect for other stretches of the river.
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So there you have it, 12 months worth of the finest fishing action the Lone Star State has to offer. Don't let any of the big ones get away!