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Photo Courtesy TXDOT

NICE CATCH

Spring Spawn

Warmer temps beckon, as does the hunt for bass and crappie.

By Greg Cummings, Randy Brudnicki and Dusty McDonald


Springtime usually means spawning largemouth bass for anglers in Texas, but it’s a great time to target their bronze cousins, too. Lake Texoma, on the northern border, offers abundant numbers and trophy-sized smallmouth bass. The 75,000-acre reservoir contains deep water, rocky habitat and ample forage, creating perfect conditions for growing large bronzebacks.

Texas and Oklahoma stocked more than a million smallmouth bass in the lake during the ’80s and ’90s; now, smallies have a self-sustaining population. The Oklahoma lake record is 7.8 pounds (2003), and the Texas lake record is 7.06 pounds (2006). Bass tournament anglers on the lake usually weigh in a mixed bag of black bass; some of the larger fish are smallmouth.

March, April and May are good times to target smallmouth bass on Texoma because they’re going through various stages of spawning. Warming water temperatures bring the bass from their winter haunts to spawn in rocky areas. They relate to relatively shallow gravel substrate near boulders and riprap (rocky material placed along shorelines), accessible to watercraft and bank anglers. Fishing can be good through fall, when water temperatures start dropping.

The lower third of the lake is best for smallmouths. Anglers should look for hard bottom, clear water and relatively shallow water (8 feet or less). Rocky shorelines, riprap, bluffs, gravel banks, sandy beaches with scattered rock, sand dropoffs, points and offshore rocky humps are key areas to target.

Areas on the lake to find these features include Eisenhower State Park, Denison Dam, West Burns Run, the shoreline between Caney and Soldier Creeks and up the Washita River arm to Willow Springs. Marinas and docks can be good places to find smallmouths, too, since they provide shade, overhead cover and submerged objects. Many smallmouths caught in tournaments are released near marinas.

Crawfish and shad imitation lures are best for targeting smallmouths. Jerkbaits, crankbaits, skirted jigs, Carolina rigs, tube jigs, grubs, swim baits, flukes, drop shots, spinner baits, shaky heads and Alabama rigs are typical options for spring smallmouth bass. Some nontraditional lures can be used, too. Sassy shads and spoons typically used for striped bass are good for catching smallmouth this time of year. Lighter line (8- to 12-pound test) should be used in the clear, open water. GC


Photo by TPWD

LAKE TEXANA

Spring Crappie

Lake Texana is a hidden gem if you’re on the hunt for crappie. Nestled in south-central Texas, just 20 miles north of Matagorda Bay and controlled by the Lavaca-Navidad River Authority, this water-supply lake can offer a freshwater adventure to folks accustomed to bay fishing. Crappie have always been a popular pursuit around the north side of the lake, where submerged timber is plentiful; the southern portion of the lake has been devoid of habitat. A recent collaborative effort between LNRA and TPWD resulted in the construction and deployment of 24 Georgia-style fish attractor structures situated in the lower half of the lake to expand fishing opportunities throughout the lake.

Fishing during the winter may offer some opportunities for crappie anglers in deeper water, but the spring season is the preferred time to harvest these fun-to-catch fish around their spawn. Keep in mind that this lake is muddy, mainly from its windswept position of north to south. Aim for days with low wind and be observant of submerged timber.

Find a map to locate these structures and other fish habitat structures across the state: tpwd.texas.gov/fishattractor. DM


Photo Courtesy Ronnie Kelley / Cap'n Ron's Guide Service

LAKE PALESTINE

LARGEMOUTH BASS

“Winter fishing has been good on the south end, with water temps in the mid-50s and the water slightly stained,” says Lake Palestine guide Ronnie Kelley (CapN Rons Guide Service). With warming spring temperatures, fishing is improving.

Kelley says to fish points with rock and brush on the south end. After locating baitfish, try jerkbaits, shaky heads and crankbaits. Boat houses in deeper water and brush can be good, as well. Fish those areas with a drop shot, jerkbait or jig.

The north end temps were a little cooler over winter, but warm quickly this time of year. Focus on the timber that lines the creek channel — the creek bends will be the primary spots. Spend time looking for baitfish. White/chartreuse spinner baits with big blades and a black/blue jig are commonly used. RB

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