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Texas' Best Fishing For 2005
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.
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.
"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."
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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