Lake Travis, Austin Texas- Bass Fishing Report
The fishing on Lake Travis has been decent as of late. The fish are still very much in a wintertime pattern, but you can still have some great days on the water. I find that this time of year can be very hit or miss. Weather patterns and conditions on the lake cause bass to go through feeding windows in which they tend to be a bit more active than they have been. Being lucky enough to have a day off from work and be on the water when this happens is a great thing!
First off thank you so much to everyone who reads my fishing reports and learns from the information I provide. As of the last couple months I have been getting more emails, texts, and messages on social media than ever before with general fishing questions. Don't think you have to be messaging me about booking a trip to contact me. I love hearing from you guys, so if you have some questions about rigging baits, tackle advice, general fishing questions, etc. hit me up! Email is preferred as I have a tendency to ignore my phone when I am fishing.
As I mentioned earlier the bass are very much in their typical winter time pattern right now. With that said, I would expect to see pre-spawn fish getting active within a week or two unless a cold front comes through. Water temps today were up to 55 degrees in the afternoon. Once you see water 59 degrees or higher you can expect a change in the bass' behavior. Keep checking back for the next fishing report when the pattern has changed for more info on that. I expect we will start seeing pre-spawn fish within the next two weeks. Things are getting ready to bust loose!
If you read my last report I mentioned deep and slow being the key. That still is the most consistent pattern for me, with a few exceptions which we will get too. Small baits fished deep and around docks is a consistent pattern on Travis during the colder months. Today that was really the key for us, especially fishing isolated docks.
A little tip for you guys... docks can be very good places to find bass, but especially when they are isolated docks. What I mean by this is when you find a stretch of shoreline where there is only one dock on it, that will be a hot spot. If the fish want structure or shade, that is where they are forced to go. This also applied to the first dock in a row of docks when you enter a large cove. Generally the very first dock, closest to the mouth of the cove will be the best. Keep this in mind the next time you are fishing docks!
On Lake Travis there is an abundance of bluff walls. These hold fish almost year round. Obviously there are times these aren't the best places to be fishing, but for a lot of the year, especially times when fish favor deep water, these can be the ticket. Lately I have been fishing certain areas of the lake following this pattern, targeting bass anywhere between 15-40 feet deep. Slowing down your retrieve, especially on calm sunny days can be the key. There are a variety of baits I throw but especially jigs, dropshots, ned rigs, and neko rigs. Natural colors like green pumpkin have been best, however add some orange to whatever bait you are fishing. I had several bass spit up bright orange crawfish last week. Orange Spike-It dye is a must have in your boat for dipping your soft plastics in. If you don't have any of that try using red, they carry it at Academy around here. Finding where there are ledges and drop offs along these bluff walls has been one of the best ways to target these fish.
How do I do that? Well that's the $3,000 question... Garmin Panoptix is the answer! I have had this technology on my boat for about 4 months now and am really starting to see the benefits to this live view sonar. For those of you not familiar with it, it's basically point and shoot sonar that allows you to see the fish moving on the screen in real time. You can literally watch your lure come across the screen, and see fish react to it and even eat your bait... its wild! Finding fish it just one use for it though. I like to run mine with the gain around 59-61 and the range at 65 feet when scanning shorelines. I will then point the transducer (which is mounted to my trolling motor shaft) at the shoreline, and clear as day can see what the bottom looks like. It really opens your eyes to the fact that not all shorelines are created equal. Some are steep tapered slopes into the river channel, some have small stair step ledges to them, and others are sheer cliffs. Knowing this and seeing how far away these ledges are makes it very easy to put your cast in the right place and work those spots over thoroughly.
In the photo below you can see a small drop off along this shoreline. Note the school of fish concentrated around this small drop off. While it's probably only a few feet tall, this change in bottom structure is enough for the bass to relate to. (If you really are unfamiliar with Panoptix, or sonar in general, those green blobs off the bottom are bass. haha)
Garmin Livescope bundles start at around $2,000 and go up from there depending on how large of a graph you want or extra features.
The unit below is my recommendation for an entry level bottom dollar set up. This bundle gets you the fish finder, the blackbox, and the LSV32 Panoptix transducer. Its a 7 inch screen without all the bells and whistles.
This is the unit I have in my boat and recommend. It is a 10" touch screen model with a very high resolution screen. This helps a ton with seeing fish on the graph. It does not come with detailed mapping, but you can add that later. This graph comes with a few more features and functions but doesn't break the bank.
This is my recommendation for a 12 inch graph. This is going to be more expensive but offer you the largest screen with more features. It is very similar to the one above, just a larger screen.
You can get 5% off and free shipping by purchasing these graphs through the affiliate links above and use my code Tyler5. Not only will you get a great deal, but you support me when you purchase from Mealey Marine. Mealey Marine is a small marine electronics dealer out of Houston who offers phenomenal customer service and great prices. I personally vouch for Michael, the owner of the company. I know you will have a great experience purchasing through them, but if you have any issues you can contact me directly.
In this video you can see the hull of a speedboat I found on the bottom of the lake using my Garmin.
Another bait that has been working for me is a deep diving jerkbait. I like the Megabass Oneten +1 for Lake Travis since the +1 model gets down to about 10 feet deep. They make a +2 model that gets deeper, but I have not tried that yet. I like to fish this bait around main lake points, and around the edges of main lake docks. I have also been throwing medium diving crankbaits still, but I find the ability to pause the bait and let it suspend has made the jerkbait a great bait to throw. As far as colors go, Pearl and Wagasaki are two great colors, but honestly anything that resembles a shad will get you bit.
This past week I have had two trips much further up Lake Travis than I typically fish. I'm familiar with the entire lake, but from The Reserve down to the Dam is my usual stomping grounds. Water clarity up lake is actually really good right now. It is more stained than the lower end, but still very good. Moving baits were more productive for us than small finesse baits. In my opinion the upper end of Lake Travis fishes more like a river system than a lake. A little tip for y'all, when fishing a river system, current is an important thing to understand. With that said, I realize that there is hardly any current on Lake Travis. However the LCRA has been pulling water lately, I drive past Mansfield Dam everyday and can see the current down on Lake Austin. Even the slightest bit of water movement will affect where the bass position. Want to know what time of year you'll find the most current on Lake Travis (again, the current will still be superrrrr slow)... look up when rice season is on the Texas coast! A large reason for the huge change in lake levels on Travis, other than water consuption by the city of Austin and the surrounding areas is agriculture. Farmers downriver on the coast have riparian rights to the water, so the LCRA is required to send a certain amount of water downstream to them... just a little fun fact for y'all.
When fishing the main lake lake/ river look for boulders and rocks that stick out further off the shoreline. The bass will often position themselves hidden next to these facing up river. When fishing these stretches of shoreline I like to present my bait by casting up river and working it back down stream. This way my bait is swimming right into the fish's face. This isn't as critical on Lake Travis due to the lack of current, but I do find at times it helps.
We did have a lot of fun fishing up river and found some schooling fish off a ledge, as well as a school of largemouth and white bass mixed together off a marina that were fun to watch eating the bait on the Panoptix. However in my opinion the lower end of the lake is fishing better, so take that for what its worth.
The last pattern I should mention is a return of schooling fish in some marinas. This is not a solid pattern just yet, as I have only found small schools of bass around certain marinas. However if you are out in the evenings it may be worth checking out some deep water marinas with a small swimbait or jerkbait. These little lures are what I have found to be the most productive when trying to trick them into biting. Yesterday my evening trip ended a little early so I ended up staying out longer to scout. Since it was "Bachelor night" and my fiancé was off watching that silly show with her friends, I fished until dark. haha I found a couple different marinas all holding fish, but could not get the fish to bite. It was very educational watching them on the Livescope since I could see them follow my bait every time, however they wouldn't actually bite it. I guess the bass in Lake Travis are not like me... they have commitment issues. My recommendation is give them ten minutes and if you don't get a bite, keep moving.
Several of these places described in this report will be featured in my Lake Pro Guides honey hole report. In these paid reports you will get access to my EXACT fishing spots with detailed information on how to approach and catch these fish. Check out my report if you are headed out fishing this weekend!
Thank you for reading my report and good luck out there on the water! If you enjoyed this report please consider sharing it on your social media for your friends to read! Y'all sharing it helps my guide service a ton.