December 2020 Lake Travis Fishing report
These recent cold fronts have brought colder water temps, and with it the bass in Lake Travis are changing their pattern once again. Recently I have seen water temps as low as 61 degrees first thing in the morning. Water temperature is one of the biggest factors in understanding how bass behave and where they go throughout the year.
In my previous report we discussed how the fish will move back into the coves to follow their food source of shad. Until the water gets a little colder, they will continue to do so. So expect to find fish up inside your favorite large coves. Baits such as medium diving crankbaits, Texas rigged plastics, and drop shots are all good options to target these fish. With the lake level so low, there is very little isolated cover in the lake such as brush or trees. When the water is low I focus more on man-made structure such as docks, staircases into the lake, concrete walkways, etc. As more and more fish move up to the banks in these coves, looking for cover to cast at is key.
There is also another population of fish that shouldn’t be over looked. That is the fish that make their home on the main lake. There are seasonal patterns to every lake, but not all fish make a migration to those textbook spots at the same time, or at all for that matter. Coves will be an important place to look for the next few weeks until winter really sets in. However, if you see me out on the lake fishing main lake spots, don’t be surprised. In fact, this past week with the very cold temps, I have been catching more fish consistently deep. I caught a bass November 30th in 61 feet of water on a drop shot!
Lake Travis has an abundance of deep points and deep ledges. These are places that I have been focusing on heavily during my guided trips as of late. During late fall and into winter it is common to find schools of bass suspended out deep off of these kinds of spots. Look for ledges and points that are close to a creek channel and you will likely find these fish. Now with that said, these fish are not easy to catch. I rely heavily on my electronics this time of year. When bass are suspended the $10,000 worth of fishing electronics I have my boat rigged up with are crucial. I recommend graphing these areas and paying attention to your 2D sonar and side scan to identify where the fish are positioned.
As of last month I have a new tool in my boat… Garmin Panoptix Livescope sonar. This sonar returns images in real time and you can literally see the fish moving on the screen. On several occasions I have watched my bait fall down the screen, watch a fish move up to it on the graph, then set the hook…. This technology is incredible. I find that when fishing these suspended fish it is an invaluable tool. I can literally pan the transducer around and see exactly where the schools have moved to in order to make a more accurate cast.
When fishing for these bass I recommend having four baits tied on, a swimbait, an Alabama rig, a jigging spoon, and a drop shot. The first two baits are my search baits when I first pull up on a ledge or point after finding the fish with the electronics. I like to keep my boat as far away as possible and make long casts with the swimbait or Alabama rig and run it right through the middle of those schools of bass. When graphing for them make note of the depth you are seeing them at, it is common to find them fairly deep, which means you will need to give your bait plenty of time to sink to the depths they are at.
My next two baits are for once you have made numerous casts at the schools and are now ready to get directly over the top of them and fish vertically over them. For this I recommend turn on your 2D sonar and Livescope if you have it. Get right over the schools of bass and drop your bait down close to your transducer so that you can see it go down the screen, stop it once you are at the same depth as the fish. For more aggressive and active fish I like to jig a silver ½ ounce jigging spoon around these schools of fish to trigger bites. When they are more lethargic I like to drop a small fluke on a drop shot down to them. Fish it with small twitches of the rod top and don’t be too aggressive with the bait.
As I mentioned in my previous report, my approach to bass fishing has a bit of a scientific twist to it. Understanding their environment and how the conditions affect the fish makes them more predictable. As the water gets colder you will start seeing these fish move out deeper, but why? Well, largemouth bass are cold blooded and as the water cools their metabolism’s slow. During the winter time the lake has no thermocline and the water is cold from the bottom of the lake to the top of the lake. However, the top part of the water column is the most prone to temperature fluctuations. Freezing temperatures over night can drop the surface of the lake several degrees, whereas a warm sunny day can do just the opposite. Bass like stability; so going deeper provides them with water that is not prone to change a whole lot. This is favorable to them and directly relates to the places they live during these colder months.
As the water gets colder expect the fishing to slow down a bit for the average angler. Beating the bank gets tougher as many of these shallow fish have moved, and you really have to work for every bite. While I personally hate the cold, I love wintertime fishing! There are several ways I have figured out how to catch them and have produced some very big limits this way. Don’t be afraid to get out on the lake and go fishing, you can still catch some really nice fish!
Here in Austin we are fortunate to not have to winterize our boats, and can use them pretty much year around. If you find yourself struggling to catch fish please consider booking a trip with me! I would love to get you out on the water and educate you on how to catch these fish, that way you are successful the next time you are out on the lake by yourself.
By the way, if you have not yet played with that new Garmin sonar, you need to! It is absolutely incredible what you can do with it. It works extremely will in clear water lakes such as Lake Travis.
If you have been considering pulling the trigger, now is the time. Garmin has a $200 rebate going on, and with the code Tyler5 you get get 5% off a Garmin Panoptix bundle from Mealey Marine