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Texas' Top Bass Waters
No matter where you go in our state, you aren't far from good bass fishing. These waters are prime examples of what we're talking about. (March 2006) ... [+] Full Article
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Texas Sportsman
Texas' Best Fishing For 2005

Catfish: Lake Livingston

Few dedicated cat men would argue for there being any better Lone Star lake for catfish than Lake Livingston. The 93,000-acre reservoir's record for blue catfish is 78 pounds and the record for flathead catfish is 114 pounds. More important, 50- to 80-pound blues and flatheads are not uncommon catches!

While the fishing for cats on Lake Livingston actually begins to heat up in March, the spawning for all three species -- channels, blues and flatheads -- is at full tilt in May. This is the time when the reclusive flatheads and shad-chasing blues are most accessible to shorebound anglers. While channel cats readily spawn around rocks and brush, the bigger flatheads and blues prefer more complex cover such as laydowns, brushpiles and artificial structure.

Most of the large blues and flatheads caught on Livingston are caught on trotlines or juglines. As flatheads feed almost entirely on live fish, they're mostly caught on live offerings such as perch or goldfish. Although the bigger blue cats typically feed under schools of shad, they will take both live and dead bait.

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Black Bass: Brazos River Below Whitney

Although the Brazos River below the Lake Whitney dam plays host to a great variety of fish, it's locally recognized for its populations of black bass. More specifically, the Brazos supports arguably the finest spotted bass fishery -- in terms of both quality and quantity -- in Texas. The section of river between the Lake Whitney dam on down to Aquilla Creek consistently produces good spotted, smallmouth and largemouth bass.

Chris Shaffer, a longtime guide on both Lake Whitney and the river, knows firsthand how good the bass fishery on the Brazos can be.

"Fishing on the river heats up in May and continues to get better as summer progresses," said Shaffer. "Typically, I find both spotted and largemouth bass holding in eddies created by brush, gravel bars and depressions. Smallmouths are typically in the deeper, boulder-strewn holes."

The key to catching the Brazos' bass is using small-diameter -- but not necessarily light-test -- fishing line and downsized baits. River bass are opportunistic feeders that rarely pass up a bait placed in their strike zone. Anglers will want to try Carolina- and Texas-rigged 4-inch worms through the eddies created by structural features -- boulders, gravel bars, and deep holes -- and in isolated cover such as brushpiles.

White Bass/Hybrids: Richland-Chambers

The quality and quantity of white bass and hybrids on Richland-Chambers Reservoir is staggering. The tremendous habitat and prey base at Richland-Chambers appear to be the keys to this fishery's fabulous production. According to fishery biologist Rob McCabe, the sheer size of the 45,000-acre reservoir has resulted in low stocking numbers of hybrid striped bass.

"There's no doubt about it," remarked McCabe, "the hybrid, white and striped bass do compete for the same prey source. The low density of hybrids at Richland-Chambers has had little impact on the white bass' prey base. This situation has benefited both the hybrid and white bass populations. The hybrids are reaching trophy size, and the white bass population is good in excellent shape."

According to Richland-Chambers guide Johnny Procell, the most productive time to for catching hybrids and white bass is in summer. "During the summer," said Procell, "surface-feeding schools make appearances in the early morning and just before dusk. However, anglers shouldn't rule out the prospect of a hungry school of fish occasionally jaunting to the surface at midafternoon."

Crappie: Lake Ray Roberts

North Texas' Lake Ray Roberts is truly one of the Lone Star State's most consistent trophy-bass impoundments. However, the crappie fishing overshadows the bass angling opportunities in summer. The slabs are fairly easy to find, and they're aggressive.

The standing timber is the key to locating numbers of Ray Roberts' quality crappie. Jeff Heuman, a celebrated crappie tournament angler and part-time crappie guide on Ray Roberts, finds the greatest numbers of fish in the backs of major creeks and at the mouths of small feeder creeks.

"In summer, I catch a lot of fish in fairly shallow water," said Heuman. "They may be in timber that's 14 to 20 feet deep, but they will be suspended 8 to 10 feet from the surface."

Heuman looks for fish in timber along fencelines and channel bends, and at the mouths of smaller creeks. He looks for the largest trees, typically pecan and cedar, in a stand of timber. During low-light conditions, the fish move up and out to feed actively on baitfish. Under bright skies, the fish stack tightly against the trunk at junctions between large limbs. A minnow fished 6 inches below a clamp-on weight or pinched split shot will place the bait exactly where the fish are.

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