Walter E. Long Lake aka Lake Decker
Walter E. Long Lake, better known as Lake Decker to local Austinites, is a small power plant located on the east side of Austin, TX. This little gem of a lake is only 1,269 acres with a maximum depth of 60 feet. While not very large, this lake can produce some large bass! What is unique about this lake is that Austin Energy operates a power plant here and uses the water from the lake to produce steam and cool the plant. Power plant lakes are notorious for good fishing as it keeps the water warm throughout the year. With that said, the power plant has been used less and less and will eventually be decommissioned. Despite this, Lake Decker consistently produces good numbers of healthy bass.
What is unique about Lake Decker is the abundance of aquatic vegetation in the lake. The lake is mostly full of hydrilla, but other grasses such as coontail, duck weed, milfoil, and lily pads can also be found growing here. While hydrilla is an invasive species of grass, it makes for great fishing! Grass provides good habitat for both bass and their prey alike. Baitfish such as bluegill, sunfish, crappie, and various species of minnow call the grass home. Another thing you will notice about Lake Decker is that the majority of the lake is surrounded by reeds. There are numerous ways to fish this lake, but two very productive patterns I recommend fishing are targeting the grass and the reeds.
In my opinion the most productive way to fish this lake is to target fish living in the grass. This is a great way to catch big bass as well as good numbers. There are three main ways I fish the grass, so let's break that down!
This is what grass looks like on live view sonar
Fishing the Grass Edges
Bass will hangout on grass edges waiting to ambush prey. Often times they will tuck themselves just up inside the grass waiting to dart out from it to attack anything that goes by. A good way to find the grass edges is using side scan sonar. I will run my graph's range out to 80 feet and turn off the side of the sonar facing the main lake. This allows me to use the full graph screen to only see the side of the boat that the shoreline is on. Typically the grass grows out from the reeds and can extend anywhere from just a few feet away, all the way out to 20-30 feet out from the reeds. Knowing where the edge is at makes it much easier to target these fish. Another tool that I use to find the grass edges is my live view sonar. I run Garmin Panoptics and can turn and point it at the shoreline and very easily see how far away from the boat the grass starts. (see photo above to get an idea of what grass looks like on the screen) With this knowledge I can make accurate casts to the edge of grass.
While there are a multitude of baits you can fish along the edges, two I recommend are a weedless dropshot and a light Texas rig with a pegged bullet weight. I love rigging a drop shot with a weedless style hook such as an Owner Cover Shot hook or a Gamakatsu G-Lock hook. You can Texas rig your worm on the dropshot which will allow it to move easier through the grass. Use a very light drop shot weight and drag it along the edge of the weed line. When you feel the drop shot get hung up in the grass, a light pop of the rod tip will usually get it free, this can often trigger bites as well. As for the Texas rig, plastics such as a senko or curl tail worm work well rigged on a 4/0 offset shank hook. Fish as light of a sinker as you can get away with and slowly fish it along the grass.