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Texas' Best Bass Fishing
In a state known for its outstanding bass fishing, it's hard to key on the very best spots . . . but we're willing to try! ... [+] Full Article
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Texas Bass Outlook

McCarty has a theory as to why people don't catch even more big fish at Fork. "If a guy has bass patterned on a spinnerbait and is catching a nice fish out of a bush every third or fourth cast, he's not going to want to leave that," he said. "But I think if you want to catch really big bass, you have to do something a little different."

McCarty's "something different" would drive most people crazy. He'll fish a spot no bigger than a basketball hoop for an hour in a battle of wills with a big female that won't bite. Sure, it's frustrating to see a huge fish ignore your lure time after time after time -- but McCarty knows that patience sometimes pays off.

"In early morning I throw a topwater bait," he said. "I keep a rod rigged with a plastic lizard close at hand in case a big fish blows up on the topwater. Lots of times a bass will slam a moving bait out of anger and show itself, but it's not aggressive enough to eat it. I go right back in there with a lizard, and 30 to 40 percent of the time, I'll catch that fish."

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McCarty also works shallow bedding areas, sight-fishing for bedded bass. Once he spots a fish's bed, he pitches a green plastic lizard right onto the bed and watches her reaction. "When I pitch the lure on that spot and she turns on it real fast, I know I'll catch her," he explained. "It's just a matter of pitching it enough times, or the right sequence of pitches, to make her bite."

If you catch a fish weighing 13 pounds or more, call (903) 681-0550 to donate it to the Budweiser ShareLunker program. Your fellow bass anglers and the state of Texas will be glad you did!

Sam Rayburn had a largemouth bass virus kill in 1998, but biologist Todd Driscoll says that "Big Sam" is back. The lake is heavily fished by tournament anglers, so there's lots of data to support Driscoll's contention.

"Results have stabilized at what we saw pre-kill," he said. Five-fish limits in tournaments can average better than 6 pounds per fish, and 10-pounders are not uncommon.

Fishing guide Will Kirkpatrick says that the part of the lake south of the Highway 147 bridge has the best habitat and fishing conditions, especially the north shoreline of the lake along the Angelina River. Rayburn typically enjoys high water in spring, which makes it possible to fish shallow vegetation.

"Key on newly emerging hydrilla or better yet, eel grass," he said. "Bass will pick it over all other kinds of vegetation."

By June the spawn will be over, and hydrilla beds will be 2 to 3 feet below the surface. "This makes for prime topwater and buzzbait fishing," Kirkpatrick said. "Fish major flats and points with Texas- or Carolina-rigged soft plastics. Run crankbaits 4 to 6 feet deep along the outside edges of hydrilla. The top areas will be Farmers, Needmore, and Caney flats as well as the bigger bays -- Five Fingers, Coleman, Veach Basin."

Other highly rated lakes in East Texas are Monticello, Big Creek, Purtis Creek, Fairfield, Pinkston, Raven, and Conroe. Don't overlook Lake Athens, either. All-time top money winner Denny Brauer fished it in August 2004 and said he couldn't believe how good it is.

Surfing the Internet is a lot more efficient than running up and down the highway pulling a boat as you look for a good place to fish. Massive amounts of information are available to help you plan your fishing trips and make the most of your time on the water. Start with the following sites and Go Fish Texas!

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