During the winter finding fish can be difficult and getting them to bite can be even tougher. In this article I am going to go over a cove on Lake Travis and break it down into 6 areas I would look at if I were on the lake fishing. When scouting for guided trips or practicing for a tournament, a topographical map of the lake is invaluable. Lake Master and Navionics are two of the most popular map chips you can purchase and upload to your graph and are very helpful when looking for new fishing spots.
This is a cove on Lake Travis that has a well defined creek channel. On Travis this is actually somewhat uncommon. Lake Travis is made up by the impounded Colorado River and lots of flooded canyons. This equates to a very deep lake in most areas and coves that the bottom shape forms a "V". The middle of these kind of coves can often be over 100 feet deep, which is not ideal for finding bass. I find that in coves such as the one pictured above, the well defined creek channel makes for more predictable spots that hold bass.
In this article I will discuss the top 6 places on this map I would look for bass during the wintertime, what baits I would pick, and how I would fish it.
#1- Creek Channel Bend
During the winter bass tend to move deep, however during feeding windows brought on by weather, barometric pressure, temperature, and wind, you will find that bass will move shallow to feed. This spot is as far back into the cove as I would bother looking. Venturing all the way to the back of this cove would be a waste of time during the winter.
As indicated by the close together contour lines, there is a steep drop off here. During a warming trend after cold weather I wold expect bass to move up relatively shallow in this area where the channel makes a bend. Since there are docks in this area I would also expect to find most of the fish up tight to the docks.
A flipping jig and a dropshot would be good baits to pick apart the docks here. A Texas rigged craw or Senko would be a good bait choice to fish down into the channel and target fish holding deeper.
#2- Outward Facing Creek Channel Bend
This part of the creek channel is another that I would look at if I was making my way back into this creek. Before fishing it I would graph it and look for any signs of life. Personally I would expect pin #3 to hold more fish, but this spot would definitely be worth a look.
A deep crankbait would be an ideal search bait to start with. Chose a model that will get down to almost the depth at the base of the channel drop off. You want to grind the bottom and cause a lot of commotion to draw a reaction bite. If you do get bit here slow down. A Carolina Rig or a football jig would be a good way to fish slow and deep and work the spot thoroughly.
#3- Ledge/ Channel Bend
This part of the creek channel forms not only a bend, but also a ledge. As indicated by the tight contour lines, there is a steep drop off here. I love spots like this because the fish don't have to move far if they want to position themselves shallow to feed. Lethargic bass that are sitting down in the creek channel will move to the top of this ledge and use it as an ambush point to hunt for prey like bluegill, shad, crawfish, and other species of fin bait.
An area like this is a prime spot to fish fast and cover water. The two baits I would throw here would be a Storm Wiggle Wart crankbait or a Keitech swimbait on an underspin. The Wiggle Wart is a great cold water crankbait and works well around ledges like this. Start by making long casts to the top of the ledge and working it into deeper water. Lots of stops and starts with the bait will help trigger bites. A Keitech swimbait rigged on a 3/8th ounce underspin is another bait I like to throw when I am trying to cover water and am casting up shallow but letting the bait get down deep. Once you have retrieved the bait far enough back to the boat to get out over the drop off, take your reel out of gear and feed it line. Let the bait sink out several feet and start your retrieve again. I would fish this way all along where I highlighted with the red line.
#4- Tapered Point in the Creek Channel
I included this spot to actually tell you a place I probably would not fish. At first glance this point extending out into the middle of the cove looks pretty enticing. However, from my experience guiding on Lake Travis, slowly tapered points like this general don't hold a lot of fish. The topography of Lake Travis is mostly rock, and areas like this are made up of small chunk rock and gravel. Unless someone sank a brush pile here or a sailboat sank, there isn't really a lot of structure for bass to hold to. It would be more likely for fish in this area to move up under the nearby marina rather than staying out off this small point. You may catch a transitory fish here as they move in or out of the cove, but without a steeper drop off I wouldn't expect to hammer them here. With that said, I would absolutely make a pass over it with my electronics on my way back into this cove. Only if you see fish on your graph is it worth your time to make a few casts.
#5- Ledge Near Creek Channel
This spot sets up very similar to spot #3, however it is a lot deeper here. With the lake being low, the water level is actually quite a bit lower than what is indicated on the map. This spot is one to be fished based on the lake level. At full pool this spot sets up too deep for my liking, however at the time of writing this article the lake level is ideal for bass to position here.
There are two ways I would fish this spot. If the wind were out of the south and this ledge was getting hit by the wind I would likely start off with a moving bait. Wind and weather are a big part of what determines what I throw. On overcast, windy, or days when a front is moving in, I love to throw a Picasso Schoolee rig. This Umbrella rig is a great way to trigger a reaction strike in cold water.
When the fish want something a little more subtle than 5 swimbaits, a bunch of blades, and some wires, I like to go back to that medium diving crankbait. I will make long casts and try to fish as parallel to the shoreline as I can and try to get my bait to hit the rocks to try and elicit a bite. The Alabama rig and the crankbait fall under the same category of throwing a moving bait for a reaction strike.
The second way I would fish this spot is to slow down and fish for deeper bass at the base of this ledge. 20-35 feet deep is normal to find fish at during the winter. A heavy Neko rig, a football jig, or a Texas rig with a heavy bullet weight are all good options to get a bait down to the right depth. I favor this method when the bite has been a little slower, or you are fishing blue bird sky conditions.
#6- Secondary Point Near Flat
Spot #6 is a great place to find fish at several different times of the year, but especially in the winter. One thing to note though is that this area is dependent on the lake level. At the time of writing this the flat above the point is exposed out of the water. Ideally I would actually like there to be several feel of water over this slow tapering flat.
Areas like this are ideal places for fish to move to when they want to move from deep water. It's not too shallow that they will only move here under certain conditions, and it's not too deep that bass won't use it as a feeding area. As you can see on the map this point is close to a very deep creek channel. Places like that will not only act as a highway for the fish, but suspended bass will also hang out here. When they want to feed they will change from their suspending behavior to moving up to the nearest structure for comfort and protection. I.E. this secondary point.
There are a variety of baits you could throw here but a small topwater popper, a ned rig, and a football jig are all good options. When there is water on top of the flat I like to start here with a moving bait and target any shallow fish. When the lake is lower I tend to slow down and fish the deeper area away from the point.
When searching for new water to fish, sometimes it is good to break down the lake one cove at a time. Lakes such as Lake Travis are so big that it can be overwhelming when scouring the map. Next time you are on the water pick one area to fish and break it down like this. Hopefully my explanation of what I look for, why I look there, and how I fish them helps you the next time you are out fishing on your own. These spots are geared towards what the bass do during the winter. However, several of these spots within this cove will also hold fish during other seasons. When fishing pay attention to every bite you get and fish you catch. Noting everything that went into that catch, such as location, weather, bait selection/ color, etc. will all help you develop a pattern more quickly. The more pieces of the puzzle you put together, the more predictable the fish become. Combine your newly acquired knowledge of the fish's behavior, with your local knowledge of the lake, and you are sure to have a more productive day on the water!
If you are serious about fishing considering investing in your success by booking a trip with me. I offer coaching trips in which we will break the lake down and fish as if we were preparing for a tournament. These trips are more geared towards somewhat experienced anglers looking to up their game. My coaching trips are all about education... of course we will catch fish, but rather than run you from honey hole to honey hole we will break down the lake and go more in depth with our day on the water.
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