Lake Travis Largemouth Bass Fishing Report- January 15, 2023, Austin, Texas
Brrrr... it's cold out y'all! My weather app says its 20 degrees outside as I type this. Luckily it's supposed to warm up later this week and give us a break from the cold. Admittedly I'm a big baby in the cold, however I much prefer winter fishing over the opposite; summer fishing. Despite it being cold outside the water temperature here in Central Texas never gets that cold. Even at its coldest the water on Lake Travis hardly ever dips below 50 degrees. When it gets cold like this the fishing can actually be really good.
This past week I've been on the lake a good bit and the bite's been solid. My last trip had the odds stacked against us, cold, bluebird skies, super windy, etc etc. Despite this we still put 20 fish in the boat and had two big ones on. (Let's not talk about them getting off at the boat haha) If you're headed to the lake in the next week or two let me give you some info on how I approach fishing right now and the lures I'll be throwing. (Full disclaimer, if you want ALL the juicy info and all the deets on the exact baits and colors I'm throwing head on over to my Honey Hole Report page)
When its cold out I personally like to cover water, make lots of casts, and try to get the fish to react to my bait... I'm sure you've heard the term "search bait". Once I get some bites in an area I will work it over a little longer with moving baits, then switch over to something slow moving. A drop shot and a jig are two of my favorite baits for this. I should also mention, a Ned rig can also get a lot of bites, however it's not my first choice of baits simply because with all the rock on Lake Travis they get snagged a lot and you do tend to have to weed through some small fish) I've got fishing reports going back YEARS with a ton of info on fishing drop shots and jigs... let's spend a little time talking about those moving baits.
As far as search baits go a flat side crankbait like a 6th Sense F4 or a Flat 75X is an excellent choice. The action of this style bait and the ability to bump them into things like stumps and rocks makes them a good choice for triggering reaction bites. On days when the sun comes out and it warms up (especially in the afternoons) I find the bass will pull up rather shallow to feed and get in that slightly warmer water. A squarebill is a good alternative simply because they run more shallow. However, if it's deep enough and I can get away with it I prefer those flat sided baits.
I recommend getting around shallow flats or shorelines that are close to a creek channel. Find structure like stumps, rock, or anchor blocks from docks and run this bait around them trying to bump into them. Fish it with a very erratic retrieve.
Jerkbaits are another personal favorite of mine and a well known "coldwater bait". I actually see it quite a bit where clients work a jerkbait more like a crankbait. While this bait does have a bill on it, they don't run or fish like a jerkbait. This bait works well because of the ability to quickly twitch and rip the bait through the water, then completely stop it and allow it to suspend motionless. When largemouth bass are lethargic you can get them to react the bait by working it quickly, but when you pause it for long enough you can get them to commit to it. It becomes a very easy meal for them to catch when you do that.
Tip: a good rule of thumb is the colder the water is the longer you should pause the bait in between "twitches". Pay attention to how much you are getting bite when you stop it versus when its moving. The more they bite it on the pause, the longer I will let it sit still suspended in the water... sometimes as much as 6-7 seconds. I also recommend going with a high quality realistic looking jerkbait when fishing clearwater lakes like Lake Travis. The longer those fish have to look at the bait the more those details in the bait make a difference. The new smaller size Provoke jerkbait from 6th Sense has been a favorite of mine lately.
This bait is a favorite of mine when fishing over the top of structure like rock piles or ledges. If you have forward facing sonar this bait can be deadly. You want to get your bait down to the fish, but always keep it above them. I will often rig up two rods with similar jerkbaits, but with different diving depths.
Lipless crankbaits are another bait that works year after year come wintertime. The ability to burn this bait across the bottom and briefly pause it makes it deadly. It is especially effective when fished around grass where you can rip the bait from the grass, thus triggering reaction bites. Right now I recommend having two colors tied on, red or chrome. Variations of this can be good when cloud cover or dirty water is present, but these two colors will get bit on Lake Travis.
I recommend fishing it on straight 30# braid in order to make it easier to rip and to be able to feel the vibration of the bait better... if the bait is fouled up and not vibrating you won't get any bites. There is a lot of hydrilla in Lake Travis these days and this bait is perfect for that. Get around those shallow grass flats and make long casts covering a lot of water with this bait. On the upper end of the lake there are shallow banks with lots of Hay grass on them, this bait will work well there too.
P.S. If any of yall are doing some shopping on the 6th Sense website, use my code TORWICK at checkout. It'll save you 10% and helps me out!
With the cold front passing the weather next week is looking good. There's a little rain in the forecast... y'all know I love those cloudy days! Also keep your fingers crossed we get some rain that amounts to something.
If you'd like to get out there an hammer on some fish give me a call or book online! I'm flexible too if you'd prefer a later start time so that you're not having to get out there before the sun warms things up. Right now that early grey light bite isn't as important.
Oh, on an unrelated note, check out this herd of Axis Deer I saw on Lake Travis the other day. I'm out there all the time and have NEVER seen these guys! How cool! You really never know what you're going to see when you're out on the water.