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!
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.
Fishing Holes in the Grass
Another good way to target fish living in the grass is by finding holes in the grass and pitching baits into them. Polarized sunglasses can aid in seeing these holes, during the summer months when the grass grows in thick, punching holes in the grass matts is a fun way to fish. I recommend finding the thickest matted areas of grass and visually looking for holes in the canopy. Rig up a pegged Texas rig on heavy braided line. My preferred set up is 65# braid, a bobber stopper, a 3/4 ounce tungsten bullet weight (Sometimes I will go lighter or heavier depending on how thick the grass is. Go with as light of a weight as you can, but still get through the grass down to the bottom.), a 4/0 flipping hook, and a creature bait such as a D Bomb or Havoc Craw. Fish quickly and pitch your bait in as many holes in the grass as you can find! Shake the bait a few times on the bottom, pause, shake it a few more times, then move on. You can also do this with a grass jig as opposed to a punching set up if you prefer.
Fishing Over the Top of Grass
This way of fishing is one of my preferred when I want to cover water, fish fast, and try to determine what the fish are biting on. In some areas of the lake, there will be a lot of grass growing up from the bottom, but not all the way to the surface. For areas like this I like to run baits over the top of the grass trying to trigger bites from fish coming up out of the grass to eat the bait.
My top three baits for this pattern are swimjigs, chatterbaits, and swimbaits. Make long casts and let your bait sink down just enough to tick the tops of the grass as you retrieve it. When you get hung up in the grass give it a quick rip with your rod tip to free it up. The above mentioned baits come through grass very easily and rarely get hung up. When you do get caught up in the grass it can actually be a very good thing! Often times the bait bring ripped out of the grass can trigger a reaction bite. During cooler months, especially during the fall, this is my preferred way to fish. A lipless crankbait fished on braided line can be another effective bait.
Fishing the Reeds
The reeds that grow along the edge of the lake are usually the first place new anglers head to in search of fish. I typically find more success fishing the grass, but at times pitching to the edge of the reeds can be a very effective way to fish. Texas rigs, wacky rigs, and jigs are three baits that I like to toss as close to the reeds as I can. When fishing this way, look for pockets in the reeds, points where some reed stalks grow out further from the shore than the rest, and anything that looks fishy. The more you fish this way, the more you instinctively know where a bass will tuck in and position themselves looking waiting to ambush prey. During the spring time when the fish are spawning, I will also get up close to the reeds and pitch a heavy punching set up with braided line, far up inside the reeds. You would be surprised how far back in those reeds bass will go.
A lot of people know me as the Lake Travis fishing guide, but believe it or not I fish Lake Decker quite often! Sometimes I like to change it up and fish grass as opposed to rock! If you are interested in fishing this lake, please feel free to contact me. When booking a trip, simply mention in the booking message you would like to fish Lake Decker. We will spend time going much deeper in depth over what baits I throw out here, what colors I like to use, and how to use your sonar to find grass beds and weed lines. If you are looking for an Austin fishing guide, give me a shout or book a trip online!