If you know anything at all about Lake Travis then you know the lake is quite low right now. At nearly 35 feet low as of writing this there is a ton of new structure to fish! While I don’t like seeing the lake so low I do see it as an opportunity to get out and scout. One of the challenges of fishing Lake Travis is learning the lake at various lake levels. From year to year your favorite honey hole could be high and dry, or 30 feet underwater! This is the first time seeing the lake so low for a lot of Austin’s new residents, so get out there and fish it!
During guided trips a lot of clients ask me how I find structure, how I know where the good ledges are, and where the productive rock piles are at. While this isn’t the only way, I take advantage of years when the lake is low to learn the shorelines in preparation for when the lake fills back up. I mention all this because I hear about a lot of people fishing elsewhere due to Travis being low. As long as you stick to the main river channel, watch for hazard buoys, and keep your lake map up while driving, it’s still a very safe lake even as low as it is.
Current water temps on Lake Travis are in the upper 80’s, anywhere from 85-88 degrees depending on the time of day. Water clarity is still very good, Lake Travis is known for being very clear, but at the present time can be a bit more cloudy in some areas depending on the wind. The shoreline of Lake Travis is mostly limestone and as the lake drops exposing new rock and the wind creates chop it tends to make the water a bit more cloudy than normal.
Currently I have been finding most of my fish deep, we are still very much in a summertime pattern. Largemouth bass prefer cooler water which also contains more dissolved oxygen. In an effort to find this, some bass will seek out deeper areas of the lake to live. During the summer understanding how a thermocline affects where the fish live is important. To give you the Cliff Notes version of a thermocline, it is a divide in the lake where the cooler more dense water settles to the bottom, and the warmer less dense water rises to the surface. This divide in the water column can vary in depth from lake to lake and is affected by turbidity, current, and temperature. Currently the thermocline on Lake Travis is around 40 feet deep. The reason I mention this is because largemouth bass do not like to live below the thermocline.
When starting your search for deep summertime bass try targeting areas 20-40 feet deep, there is no need to look deeper unless there is no thermocline present. Offshore areas such as humps on the bottom with rock, small ledges where fish can set up to ambush prey, or bluff walls with docks that provide shade are all places I have been catching fish. Finesse fishing excels this time of year, there are lots of other baits I throw, but what I call the “holy trinity of finesse fishing” is always on the deck of my boat; a shaky head, a drop shot, and a ned rig. These three rigs are very effective at getting down deep, being fished slow, all while presenting a smaller easy to eat meal for those sluggish bass.
With the clear water I have been doing well with natural colors like red bug, watermelon black seed, and green pumpkin. I do experiment a lot with colors and changing them up, but when in doubt one of these three colors will get you bit.
The last but biggest bit of advice I can give you is to slow down! When you think you are fishing slow enough, fish slower! Subtle movements with your rod tip, smaller dragging motions to the side, and a slower reeling presentation with moving baits tends to do better when the weather is hot and the water is hot. I promise you a slower presentation for the next month will get you more bites.
Get out there on the water and go catch a few! If you are looking to learn the lake better and would like to get out with a professional fishing guide, please visit my website for more information on !booking a trip