The focus of last week’s Tribune-Herald outdoor column was on the negative impacts that the months-long Central Texas drought was having on area lakes and streams, and the shaky chances of a strong white bass spawning run if we didn’t get some significant rainfall soon.
Ever since last Sunday, the skies have opened up and dropped substantial amounts of rain. So throughout this week, I’ve been considering what to write about next – just in case my words have some sort of sway over how the universe works.
I figured I might write about winning the lottery, achieving world peace, or at least toning down the nastiness in America’s current political discussions. But chances are, I just got lucky last week, and my impact on events is about as weak as most people’s political opinions.
So instead of pontificating about peace, I decided to get my gear together and go to the river to see if the white bass had gotten the message that conditions are right to start their way upstream to lay eggs and make a bunch of new baby white bass.
I’ve been monitoring fishing-related social media pages like Fish On! and Central Texas Fish’n Addiction over the past few days to see how “the run” is coming along, but a good journalist should, whenever possible, get boots on the ground and check things out first-hand.
I chose to leave the canoe at home and make my Saturday morning trip strictly a bank-fishing one. Having fished the South and Middle Bosque for years and more recently observed (during the low-water conditions over the past couple weeks) where gravel bars, deep holes, channels, and underwater hazards are located, I arrived with a good profile of the handful of promising spots I planned to fish.
As it turned out, I didn’t have to walk far or wait long for the action to kick into high gear. Back in the old days, bank fishing during “the run” often meant standing shoulder to shoulder with other anglers and hoping everybody could manage to bring their fish to shore without tangling into the dozens of other lines that were in the water. Keeping in your lane wasn’t always possible, and sometimes, you’d sideswipe 4 or 5 other people before untangling the mess and getting back to the business of catching fish.
Saturday’s trip was nothing like the old days in terms of crowd size, but it rang the bell in terms of lively fishing action. I found a place where the river channel cut right to the bank at a bend, where a gravel bar had built up near the middle of the river, giving plenty of space and angles to keep my bait in the hot zone for a longer period of time than if I was simply casting across to a deep area and bringing it back perpendicular to the bank.
My third cast yielded a decent-sized, hard-fighting sand bass, and the bite continued in the “good” category for another 30 minutes. I wasn’t out to take home a limit for the skillet – the goal was just to verify that the reports I had been seeing online and hearing about from friends were accurate. All of the dozen or so fish I caught were males, which are typically the first to make their way upstream.
Best bets for bait include ghost minnows (bait shop minnows are good, too), small jigs and spinnerbaits, tied flies, and suspending crankbaits. Fish near the bottom in channels adjacent to gravel bars and sand flats.
Keepers must be a minimum of 10 inches, and 25 fish per day per angler is the limit.
In a related story, with Saturday’s temperatures pushing into the mid to upper 60s, and with more warm days ahead this week, anglers are increasingly likely to encounter snakes while walking through the river’s thickening vegetation.
I spotted a long, skinny, green snake climbing its way through the grass and underbrush while I walked along the trail to my fishing hole. When it sensed me, it sped up and slithered underneath a log, causing me to sharpen my awareness of where I was stepping. Central Texas is home to some venomous species of snakes including rattlers, water moccasins, and copperheads, and riverbanks are prime snake habitat.
Trout stockings update
Trout fishing season in Texas is on the waning side, but there are still stockings planned during the first week in March for Waco’s Buena Vista Park Lake and Temple’s Miller Park Pond.