Lake Travis - January Bass Fishing Report- Provided by professional fishing guide Capt. Tyler Torwick
Happy New Year everyone! The fishing on Lake Travis has been surprisingly good lately. I personally prefer winter fishing to summer fishing; I grew up in San Diego, CA (and for the record I went to Baylor and have lived in Texas long before it was the cool thing for Californians to do) and absolutely hate the cold. Despite my hatred of cold weather, the fishing can actually be really good. The other benefit of the winter is that you usually have the lake to yourself. Remember, the fish don’t care about the air temp, only the water temperature.
As water temperatures drop, the fish’s metabolisms slow. This normally means slowing way down with your presentation or going with a bait that will trigger reaction strikes. With that said, it has been unseasonably warm. As of writing this at the beginning of January, water temps are still in the mid 60’s! I’ve even seen a couple bass beds, indicative of spawning behavior… talk about some confused fish! We are expecting a cold front though, which should change things up a bit. Despite this, I believe we will continue to experience a warmer than normal winter, which will play a role in how the fish behave.
Right now the fish are a little mixed up. I have been catching bass off both fall and winter patterns. My biggest piece of advice when on the water is to keep moving, change baits often, and think outside the box. Don’t get fixated on throwing just one or two of your favorite baits. I have found fish out shallow and out deep, so being versatile is key to consistently catching good numbers of bass.
Let’s start off with baits fished best on the bottom. Right now you can get bit fishing around docks on bluff walls in 15-30 feet of water. If the fish are a bit more active I prefer to fish a small football jig. I recommend downsizing to a 3/8th ounce jig, trimming the skirt down and using a smaller profile trailer. Often referred to as a “finesse jig” a small round ball jig will do the same thing. The fish don’t care about the shape of the lead head, but I do find football jigs get hung up a little bit less in the rocks FYI. Getting that jig as close as you can to the backs of the docks near the staircases is going to get you bit. On blue bird sky kind of day’s bass tend to hold tighter to cover, so getting close to any structure you find will be important. If you lack confidence in a jig you can substitute it with a Texas rigged craw style bait with a 3/8th ounce weight. Green pumpkin speed craws are an excellent option. One other tip for you is to play around with bait dyes like Spike-It. Often times I add orange or red dye to the claws of my baits to give them a more realistic look.
When the bite is slower I will rotate between what I like to call “the holy trinity of finesse fishing.” Which are a drop shot, a Ned rig, and a Shaky head. These three baits never leave the deck of my boat no matter the time of year, when fishing Lake Travis. Travis is a gin clear rock fishery and finesse baits excel. Stick to natural colors like green pumpkin, watermelon, or variations of those. I especially like the drop shot when fishing around docks as you can effectively fish it close to the docks. With all these baits, slow down and give the bait long pauses. Watch your line to make sure you are maintaining bottom contact, especially when you get down deep with the bait.
Conditions like wind, a drop in barometric pressure, or a drop in temperature can often get fish active. This is when I like to pull out the moving baits, which is my personal preference for catching bass. This time of year I recommend having an Alabama Rig, a jerkbait, and a medium diving crankbait tied on. Focus on more gradual sloping shorelines that have rock along them, but are adjacent to deep water. Bass will move from the creek/ river channel to feed up shallow. Cut them off by targeting the areas they can easily move to. The A rig and the crankbait are effective ways to burn the bank and cover water. For the crankbait, alternate between a crawfish and a threadfin shad colored bait, select a bait that will dive to +/- 15 feet. I like to throw the jerkbait across points and up in the backs of small drains. It is a bait I pick up selectively, throw three or four times, then set it down. I run Garmin Panoptix on my boat (for those unfamiliar with it, it is live view sonar). Occasionally you will come across small schools of suspended bass. I find a deep diving jerkbait like a Megabass Vision 110 +2 to be a great option to trick them into biting. Make a long cast past the school and get it down to depth before you bring it through the school of fish. Play around with the cadence, but I find a 2-3 second pause between twitches to be sufficient. As it gets colder later in the year, you may consider pausing it longer.
One last pattern I would recommend is vertical jigging around deep docks and marinas. This technique requires good sonar to be effective, there’s no way around it. Knowing how to read 2D sonar, or better yet, having live sonar, is a major advantage. When the water finally gets really cold, bass like to suspend. When they get this way, they are notoriously hard to catch. I find that they will suspend under docks, which prevents you from being able to cast baits through the schools of fish. What I like to do is to vertical fish for them. A small dropshot with a fluke, an ice jig, and a chrome jigging spoon with a feather on the treble hook are the three baits I rotate through. When fishing all of these baits, fish them more subtly than you normally would. With cold water, the fish are less likely to react to a bait fished super fast. Smaller “pops” with your rod tip, then a very long pause letting it dead stick usually works the best. When fishing this pattern, I usually don’t start out searching exclusively for these fish, its more something that I just come across as I fish during the day. With that said, I do know of several docks that usually hold fish this time of year. Something about the depth, the location, and how they set up is favorable to the bass. I won’t tell you which docks, but if you find fish under one, definitely check it the next time you go fishing!
Winter is my slow season, but one of the best times to get out on the lake with me! Most weekdays we have the lake to myself aside from a few dock builder’s boats. I offer what I call a “coaching trip”. If you are taking the time to research a fishing report, this trip may be just what you need. These trips are geared around education and not running my honey holes. We will cover a wide variety of topics including tackle selection, rigging, what baits to throw and why, understanding season patterns and how the affect bass behavior, how to read the conditions to develop a pattern, how to read your electronics more effectively, and much much more. I am an open book with my clients and will treat the day as if we were practicing for a fishing tournament. I can cut your learning curve of fishing Lake Travis in half… but don’t take my word for it, check my reviews online! If interested in booking a guided fishing trip, please visit my website www.torwicksguidingservice.com
P.S. Follow me @laketravisfishingguide on Instagram! I post on there numerous times a day and often add a lot of helpful tips to my story when I'm out on the water with clients.