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 Larry Hodge / TPWD

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The Direction of Fall Fishing

East or West, which is best?


West of San Antonio, discover a unique Texas reservoir. Lake Amistad is large, deep and clear (but has stained water, too), with sand, rocks and brush, long stretches of hydrilla and some other minor green vegetation.

In other words, it’s the perfect place for a versatile angler. As with many reservoirs, fish populations and water levels fluctuate. Bass fishing there is on an upswing.

Early fall is a great time to fish because the weather’s finally comfortable again. The fish are cooperative, and their sizes are increasing. It’s a good time to watch for schooling action of both small black bass and white bass busting shad on the surface.

Many techniques will work. Start with topwater baits early in the morning; use hollow-body frogs on top of the matted vegetation or a Pop-R-type bait in open water. When the sun gets higher in the sky, go deep with a Carolina rig or drop shot. In clear water, shad colors are best; in stained water, try crawdad colors.

Another favorite bait is a Senko rigged weightless, either Texas-rig or wacky. An overlooked tactic, deep-diving crankbaits fished in deep rock or ledges offer a chance to hook up with some big bass. Amistad is also well-known as a swimbait lake. RB

 Earl Nottingham / TPWD

East Texas fisheries have an atmosphere that feels and looks fishy. Toledo Bend (sharing a border with Louisiana) is one of the best-known reservoirs in the country, consistently producing great bass fishing.

Toledo Bend can be intimidating because it’s so large. Nearly everywhere you look, you see standing timber. Having good electronics (graphs/navigation) on your boat is critical here. Commercially available navigation maps are handy for showing safe-travel boat lanes.

The amount of hydrilla varies year to year, but the “hay grass” is pretty consistent, pending water levels. Trees are everywhere.

Depending on when you go, the fish may still be in their summer haunts, so search for deep humps in 20 to 35 feet of water. As fall progresses, they’ll move shallower before going back out deep for winter. Learning to read maps is extremely helpful for locating fish on the Bend. Follow the “drains” from deep to shallow in summer and winter, and shallow to deep in spring and fall; fish any irregularity in the contours.

Some favorite Bend techniques are Texas-rigged worms or creature baits. Use the weight size needed to fish the proper depth: for example, one-quarter-ounce to three-quarter-ounce bullet weights. When fish are shallow in sparse cover, lightly weighted or weightless flukes can be effective. Horizontal moving baits such as spinnerbaits and chatterbaits work, too.

When you encounter areas with thick vegetation, such as hay grass, use a technique called “punching.” Tie on a heavy weight (1 to 2 ounces) and a heavy hook. Thread on a compact plastic such as a “beaver style” bait. Use the heavy weight to “punch” into the vegetation and let it fall to the bottom. Many hits will come on the fall. If nothing bites, lift it a few inches and let it drop a couple of times.

In extra-thick vegetation, you may have to toss your bait up in the air 10 feet or more to give it momentum to punch through the thick cover. Fish with heavy line and a stout rod to get the fish out of that heavy cover. RB

It is a great time to wade-fish for reds in the Corpus Christi area. Late September into October is when the large redfish bulls are feeding heavily for migration and spawning. The sea grass is in good shape, which provides habitat for the forage the reds prefer.

Try a spot right off the JFK Memorial Causeway (on the way to the North Padre Island) on the Laguna Madre side (south). Many people fish there because redfish use the small channel that runs parallel to the causeway as a fish highway. The mouth of Oso Bay by Texas A&M University – Corpus Christi is also a popular intercept spot for wade fishers who are targeting redfish and flounder.

You can access the shallow Laguna Madre from Laguna Shores (last street on south side before you hit the JFK causeway). Lots of people also wade the Corpus Christi Bay side off Texas Highway 361 going toward Port Aransas. Shamrock Cove is quite popular; access the area by using Wilson’s Cut, which is exactly 5 miles north of the entrance to Mustang Island State Park.

Don’t overlook the Packery Channel on North Padre, either. It’s another popular intercept point, as well as the jetties at Port Aransas. SS

 Earl Nottingham / TPWD

If you’re looking for a less-pressured lake, try Limestone. Located less than an hour east of Waco, Lake Limestone offers a variety of fishing targets: stumps, aquatic vegetation and boat docks. Although not known as a “big bass” lake, you will encounter a number of above-average bass.

Flipping the reeds can be fun. Use a compact, soft plastic lure to cast into the pockets in the reeds. Heavy line and rods help hoist the hooked fish out of the cover.

Skipping docks is productive in the fall. The bass get under the docks for shade and food. Many docks are relatively shallow, so use a light bait such as a weightless fluke or Senko. Make a sidearm casting motion to get the bait skipping across the surface (like skipping a rock) and let it settle under the dock. Target dock posts, cross beams, etc. Those pieces of dock are usually productive. If you find docks that are in deeper water, you’ll be more successful. Property owners sometimes build brush piles under or around docks that help hold the fish.

Navigation can be tricky on parts of the lake because some areas are stump-filled. You may not see the stumps below the surface. Drive carefully until you learn the best travel lanes. RB

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