If you frequent my website you've probably noticed my lack of reports... I assure you its not due to a lack of fishing. I have actually been fishing a lot lately. Last week I spent a lot of time on Lake Travis practicing for Bass Champs... fishing has been tough out there but I came across a little pattern that I'm hoping works out. I stuck about a 5 pounder in practice and a few other good ones. With so much competition I didn't want to post any reports with detailed information like I usually do...that and I was being lazy.
Today though I fished Lake Decker and I'm happy to give y'all the low down on how we caught them. So my trip today was really cool, my client today was a doctor from Japan here in Austin for a medical conference. It worked out well that he had enough time before his flight to get in a morning trip. I picked him up from his hotel in downtown Austin at 6am and we headed to the lake. After fishing I also dropped him off at the airport terminal... yes I got a lot of strange looks driving through the Austin airport with a boat in tow! But hey we're full service here at Torwick's Guiding Service! lol
Hiroki does a lot of bass fishing back home and fishes Lake Biwa quite a bit. For those who don't know Japan is the second largest market for bass fishing after the United States... I mean think about it, all the good stuff comes from there! Something that I found very cool is how bass fishing is such a universal language. While our cultural differences are great our love and passion for fishing couldn't be more similar. I also found it really cool that in Japan people love American bass fishing. He was telling me Lake Fork is like the Mecca of fishing for Japanese anglers. He said a lot of people follow American professional bass fishing in addition to the pro tours they have in Japan.
One thing that I think came as a surprise to my client was how much "power fishing" we do in the US, especially Texas. He was surprised we were throwing moving baits on braided line! Hiroki explained to me that in Japan bass fishing is very popular but that it also causes a ton of fishing pressure on the public lakes. With exception to the big swimbaits everything is very finesse. He actually brought a travel rod and some reels and I set him up with terminal tackle and baits. I was amazed by the fishing line his spinning rod was spooled up with... it was like thread. I use 10 pound Power Pro on my set ups and I thought it was light! The stuff he has was very strong, but super super thin... I wrapped it around my hand to tighten a knot and I could tell it would have cut me if I had pulled harder... Wish I knew what brand it was!
Anyways, there were three things we threw today that produces all our bites, a lipless crank bait, a Texas Rigged Senko/ brush hog, and a drop shot. The water temp on Lake Decker is 58 degrees right now with slightly stained water. The lake is a little warmer than other local lakes, but still cold enough to keep those fish sluggish. A few we caught were definitely pre spawn though!!!
The rattle trap seemed to produced the most aggressive and biggest bites. My advice is to use your side scan and find patchy grass and points that have healthy grass on it. This was key... there is still a decent amount of grass in the lake despite it being winter, however I snagged a lot with the crank bait that was brownish and dead. Find the healthy green stuff and you'll be around the fish. I like to fish rattle traps on a stiff action medium heavy rod, over 7 feet is ideal since the key to this technique is ripping the bait. The longer rod will help you rip the bait. You want to let your rattle trap sink all the way to the bottom. Retrieve it at a moderate to fast retrieve but pause it a couple times during the retrieve and let it fall back to the bottom. Long casts are important so use a good quality reel that can launch it out there... I prefer a 1/2 oz to 3/4 oz Strike King red eye shad with rattles... I don't usually plug brands but I have found that this brand bait will fall vertically, where as a Rattle Trap will fall on its side. This can make a big difference if you are ripping the trap a lot and letting it fall back to the bottom.
Keep your rod tip low and steadily wind back the bait. When you feel your rod tip get heavy and the bait is in the grass rip the rod tip hard... don't wimp out here. You want to rip it free of that grass so that it keeps its vibrating action. Even a small piece of grass on the hook with hurt the action of the bait. This ripping action is the most important part of this technique, you will find a lot of your bites come right after you rip the bait out of the grass. This will illicit a reaction strike from the fish even in cold water. Crawfish colored baits like red or orange are best this time of year.
The other techniques that put fish in the boat were the Texas Rig and a Drop Shot. I set Hiroki up with the Texas rig when we were close to weed lines. Use your side scan to find the weeds and fish the edges. I set him up with a drop shot when we would back off points and fish more sparse patches of grass. I alternate between an exposed nose hook and a 1/0 Owner ewg hook Texas rig style depending on how thick the grass is.
Natural colors like Green Pumpkin out produced bright colors like redbug shad. Keep your presentation slow and don't over work the bait... once the water temp gets a bit over 60 degrees you can pick up the pace with your retrieve. But let the fish tell you what they want, play with the speed that you work your drop shot and pay attention to what you were doing when you got bit. This all goes into building a pattern for the day.
I wanted to give a huge shout out to Lee Benton another great guide here in Austin for referring the trip to me! Something came up and he was no longer able to take Hiroki fishing so he gave me a call, I greatly appreciate it!