This week I have been busy out on the water! Wednesday I had off and had the chance to make it out to Lake LBJ during the draw down and scout around for my guide trip the next day. James Wood is a great client of mine and a great angler, he booked another trip on LBJ yesterday, this time with his coworker Paul. He joked that he only catches big fish when he books trips with me… good job security I guess, but I have a feeling after all the fishing we have done together that’s going to change!
This report is about Wednesday and Thursday of this week... both days the fishing was very similar. If you haven't had the chance, you should get out on the lake one more time this weekend as they are filling the lake back up on the 24th. I spoke to someone with the LCRA at the ramp and they said that the lake will take around 4 days to fill back up.
I could be wrong but I have a good feeling that those first few days while the lake is rising will be great fishing. I have found in the past that when lakes flood fish move up to that new cover to explore and look for food. It gets them active and you can catch those transitioning fish that are finding new places to forage and spend their time.
I set out on my scouting trip with my friend Justin just to look for new water. I always make it a point to fish one new area of the lake I don't usually hit when I go out fishing on my own. Even those nondescript coves that don't look appealing will sometimes have one little honey hole in them. All it takes is one dock, one stretch of bank, or one brush pile to produce a good fish. I know Lake LBJ very well, but with the water low I have been taking every opportunity to scout the lake, mark new cover, and educate myself better about what lies below the water line. Justin makes YouTube videos so he was filming a bunch while we fished… hopefully he got the big one I caught on film!
Lately I have been looking for those banks with chunk rock. Keep in mind the pattern out here really hasn't changed, so I'm not about to drop some bomb of information on y'all. I highly encourage you to go back and read some of my other reports if you are going out to the lake. With that said, you won't catch fish off just any ol' stretch of shoreline. I have been searching for deeper dock and banks, with rock under or adjacent to them, and with less snot grass. This is something I have found to be key that I may not have touched on in previous reports. If you fish LBJ you know about that annoying snot grass that gets all over your bait, makes a mess of your boat carpet, and has to be picked off each cast. I hate the stuff and so do the bass. It seems the fish don't care for it and if you can find those stretches of bank that are free of it or have way less of it, you will find more bass.
Pitching docks produced several very nice fish during my practice day. A Missile Baits D Bomb in a brown craw color produced the best bites. They do not endorse me but it has become one of my favorite flipping baits. It is thick enough to hold a big hook and is ribbed and holds onto scent very well. I like to rig this on a 4/0 Trokar flipping hook with a tungsten weight pegged. I like a 1/4 - 3/8th oz weight... this isn't true punching, its just a Texas rig but I like that flipping hook a little better when you are around those docks since you can burry that hook deep in the bait and not worry about hanging it up. Also, you can tie a snell knot on those straight shank hooks. My favorite set up is Dobyn's Champion HP 745 with a Shimano Curado... get you a stiff rod with a fast action so that you can feel those small taps. This is my go to rod for big jigs and heavy line, it has a ton of backbone and you can really lean on that fish. When you are tight to docks its important to set the hook quick and pull that fish out of the dock before they can wrap you around a piling. A 5+ pound bass will have no trouble hanging you up under a dock. Trust me there is no worse feeling that having a fish wrap you up 10 feet back under a dock where you can't get him out by hand and just praying it un wraps itself.
The other bait that has been working well is a Rapala DT-6... I am a big fan of balsa wood baits as I like their floating action. These baits are balsa and are way more fragile than normal plastic crankbaits… something to keep in mind when throwing it. Needless to say they don't stand up to the abuse of banging against docks and pilings on errant casts. I usually pick up a 1.5 squarebill in red or chartreuse and black for fishing tight to docks. Throw that DT-6 around the sides of the docks and rock rip rap. Pick up that squarebill and throw it in those tighter spots. I love glass rods for crankbait fishing, but for this application I throw a rod with a little stiffer tip, you can cast a lot more accurately. Those big buggy whip rods are tough to throw baits up under docks with. I can’t recommend enough practicing your casting and getting good at hitting small targets. I catch a lot of fish on crankbaits by being able to throw them in places that most anglers can’t get a bait. This is the fastest way to get better than your friend in my opinion. You’re missing easily half the fish you could be catching by only fishing the fronts and corners of docks.
The other bait that did some work for us was my trusty drop shot. Lately this pattern hasn’t been quite as productive, but yesterday deep rock piles produced a lot of fish. This was actually how James caught his PB yesterday! She weighted 5.69 on the digital scale. Hitting those waypoints with an accurate cast was definitely key. It was funny, I was actually saying “you see those blue dots on the chart… those are rock piles 50 feet in front of you, cast there” and bam! Fish hit it right away and was exactly where I said it would be. Paul picked up that drop shot real quick and catch a bunch on it… for a bit he was out fishing James… hope he’s not forced to work overtime because of that. Haha One little tip for yall… I throw a lot of Zoom Trick worms for my drop shot rigs, they are simple, cheap, and flat out work! I usually nose hook them, but after a couple of fish the nose of the worm gets a little beat up. Sure, you can bite the nose off the worm and keep using it, but after a few times the worm doesn’t look right. Instead, try wacky rigging it in the middle of the bait. Save those used worms for this and not only will you save a little money, but sometimes they prefer the wacky rig over a nose hook. It gives the bait a little more action and is something that they probably don’t see quite as much.
I always try to teach clients about figuring out a pattern. Yesterday was a great example of this… we were up river south of the split and hit a few rock piles up that way I know about. Each one produced fish at the same depths, same water temps, and same kind of structure. We went down to the lower end of the lake and it was the same way. If you have success with one techniques see if you can replicate it elsewhere on the lake. If you can you are on a pattern! Now start experimenting with it and tweak the baits you are throwing and see if you can get a better grade of fish or more fish. If not go back to the original bait you were catching them on.
The water temp on Lake LBJ is still around 55 degrees. James and I picked this day a while back in the hopes that we might find some fish up shallow on beds. The 19th was the full moon, which usually helps to kick off the spawn. We didn’t get the warm weather I was hoping for, quite the contraire we got a lot of cold weather earlier this week. Well water temps play a much larger role in when the fish will spawn… apparently largemouth bass don’t read their lunar calendars or horoscopes as much as my girlfriend because they were nowhere to be found in spawning flats yesterday. As the weather improves with spring, start keeping an eye on your temp sensor and look for water in the mid 60’s. If you are a bank angler get yourself a cheap mercury thermometer like a pool thermometer and use it to check the water temp. Just attach it to the end of your line and cast it out into the lake where you are fishing to get a good idea of the water temp in the cove you’re fishing. This can help you decide whether you should throw a creature bait or jig around in the hopes of dragging it across a bed, or if you should throw something like a chatter bait or a swim jig to target those pre spawn bass that have moved up shallow.
The fishing this time of year gets good in Austin! Its my favorite time to guide and is my busy season. If you are in Austin on vacation, love fishing but want some tips and instruction on how to catch spawning bass, or just want to get out on the water and try fishing, now is the time to do it! My calendar starts filling up for my spring trips, especially if you want to fish on a weekend. Hit up my online calendar and book a trip! I am super busy this spring between already booked trips, fishing tournaments, and a trip to Mexico… so book now!
Stay tuned as well to my articles section of the website. I have been lacking on updating that, but I that section I like to post up well written, very detailed articles about one particular technique. My next article is going to be about bed fishing… what baits to throw, where to look for bass, tips to get them to bite once you have found a bed etc.