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Hotspots For Summer Trout & Reds
Of the many great places all along our Texas Coast for catching speckled trout and redfish this summer, perhaps none are better than these. (August 2007) ... [+] Full Article
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Texas Sportsman
Lone Star State 2007 Fishing Calendar
In a great state like ours, a serious angler could easily fish 365 days a year. To prove it, here's 12 months' worth of the finest fishing Texas has to offer. (February 2007)

Assignment: Spend a year pursuing a hands-on investigation of fishing in Texas -- now there's a job I'd like to have!

Given the vastness of the Lone Star State and the amazing variety of its piscatorial riches, such a project is almost too much to be comprehended, let alone actually done. But, hey -- we can try to get 'er done, right? If you're game, here's a solid plan for experiencing the best angling action that Texas has to offer this year.

Striped Bass

For many Texas anglers, January seems to be a great month to sit in front of the fireplace and dream about fishing. But for those hardy souls willing to brave the elements, the year's first month is a top time to visit Lake Texoma for trophy striped bass.

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Thanks to the gazillions of threadfin shad that move into Texoma's marina basins to find warmer water, the striper fishing action -- even at night -- can be amazingly good.

Take last year, for instance. On a nighttime trip inside the Highport Marina basin, I teamed up with Texoma guides Jeff "J.D." Lyle (Texoma Striper Guide) and Mark Macnamara (Texoma Sportfishing) to whack a number of stripers under the marina's nighttime glow.

To be honest, I watched as Lyle and Macnamara, two of the most knowledgeable striper anglers I know, whacked the linesiders with conventional tackle as I tried to do so with my 8-weight fly rod.

Finally, after a few missed strikes, I grew tired of being left out of the fish-catching frenzy. So what did I do? I grabbed a spinning rod with a chartreuse-glow Sassy Shad and soon joined the catching party with a 5-pound striper!

Chain Pickerel

A glance at the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department's "Top 50 Largemouth Bass" list would seem to indicate that February is a good time to catch a sweetheart of a largemouth bass, especially on Lake Fork.

And while that's certainly true, the year's second month is also a great time to target a lesser-known species -- the chain pickerel -- at northeast Texas' lakes Dangerfield and Caddo.

"That's their spawning time and they are up in Dangerfield's grassbeds in shallow water," said Rob Woodruff, of Quitman, who operates the Orvis-endorsed Woodruff Guide Service. "The same thing is true on Caddo, but once you get to Caddo, they're called 'jackfish.'"

While Texas chain pickerel -- which resemble northern pike -- don't get exceptionally big, they are loads of fun to catch at a time of the year when little else is up shallow and biting. Woodruff suggests white and yellow Beetle Spins, small spinners, and small Rebel crankbaits for conventional anglers. For fly-fishing enthusiasts, try black crystal flash Woolly Buggers with orange coneheads or small flashy streamers with gold, pearl, or chartreuse colorations.

Largemouth Bass

The month in which college basketball madness strikes also figures to see Lake Alan Henry near Lubbock, Lake Amistad near Del Rio, Lake Fork near Quitman, and Sam Rayburn Reservoir near Jasper battle for big-bass supremacy.

While there's little doubt that Fork is still the state's big-bass king, Amistad is my pick for the hottest bass lake in Texas right now. Need proof? See last year's insane four-day visit by the BASS pros, during which sack after sack full of big largemouths got weighed in. By the tourney's end, Ish Monroe stood atop the winner's podium, weighing in 20 bass at 104 pounds and change en route to a $103,000 payday!

Wherever you launch your bass boat this month, Weatherford BASS fishing legend Gary Klein urges you to spend some time figuring out the day's primary pattern. "Early in the day, I'm more prone to fish more and more stuff, but once I get the bite isolated, then I'm good about going from target to target without wasting time," he said.

Keep in mind that once you find a pattern, you should fine-tune things a bit to find the pattern within the pattern. "The biggest difference between a weekend angler and our level of fishermen (in the pros) is that we just don't see a tree in a pocket, but we see where the fish will be positioned on that tree," Klein said.

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