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Texas Sportsman
Lone Star Bass Outlook

One of the hottest bass lakes in the nation right now is Lake Amistad, near Del Rio. The lake has hosted numerous bass tournaments, including a Bassmaster Elite Series event last year, and continues to churn out big fish.

Mike Kelley, an Amarillo firefighter and avid tournament angler, has fished Amistad numerous times and said the lake is a spectacular place to fish for bass.

“Amistad is as clear a lake as you can find in Texas,” he said. “You can see fish down deep and there’s great structure like rocky dropoffs and submerged vegetation that draw in some big fish. It’s just a fantastic place to fish. The only drawback is it’s a little bit of a drive to get down there. Other than that, it’s perfect.”

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The central portion of the Lone Star State has seen struggles recently in the form of aggressive golden algae outbreaks, but there remain some good bass fisheries in this region.

John Tibbs, our fisheries biologist in Waco, said golden algae outbreaks have affected some historically strong fisheries, but Lake Waco is a fishery on the rise.

“Lake Waco has been turning on since the pool rise of about four years ago,” he said. “Surveys show a large abundance of fish, and some good ones, too. We think we’re going to get some ShareLunkers out of Waco this season. Whitney is still trucking along and there’s good fish to be had, including some smallmouths.

“Lakes like Belton and Stillhouse Hollow had high water levels all year and the access facilities were tough to use. People just couldn’t fish them. We don’t have the fish densities like we had in some lakes, but that’s not to say you can’t still catch good numbers of fish and even some good ones at places like Aquilla or others.”

Jeff Henson, a TPWD fisheries biologist in Bryan, said there are plenty of other good fisheries in south-central Texas.

“Gibbons Creek had been on a decline in recent years, but it’s definitely on the upswing,” he said. “There’s better habitat emerging in the lake and anglers are beginning to catch better numbers of largemouths as well as bigger fish. The lake should only continue to get better in the next three to five years.

“Lake Somerville is also a good place to look for good numbers of fish. It’s got hydrilla in it, but it hasn’t become as dense or as much of a problem like it has in some other lakes.”

Some other Central Texas lakes that are on the upswing for catching an abundance of fish or for taking bigger ones are Austin, Travis, Inks, Fayette County and McQueeney.

Many bass anglers farther south dismiss the Panhandle as being a region void of good bass fishing waters. However, that’s simply not true. There are two lakes in the region that are solid bass fisheries for catching good numbers of fish and big ones as well.

Munger said lakes Greenbelt and Meredith are both good fisheries that provide anglers with plenty of opportunities.

“Greenbelt has historically maintained a stable water level and also provides a variety of diverse habitat,” he said. “It has got good inflows that help keep the forage sources steady.”

Greenbelt has good vegetation and flooded timber in some coves and is relatively clear, allowing anglers to see fish in the shallows this time of year. With extensive sand flats and rocky areas in the shallows, Greenbelt can be excellent at times during the spring spawn.

Meredith also can be a good lake for largemouths, but it might also be the top smallmouth bass lake in the state. The state-record smallmouth, a 7.93-pound fish caught in 1998, came from Meredith. The lake is full of rocky structure and some dropoffs, which can be good places to target at this time of year for solid smallies.

The biggest thing working against Meredith is battling low lake levels. Munger said a fall survey revealed some surprising data. “We shocked it and normally we catch three times more smallmouths than largemouths,” he said. “However, that survey was about even. That’s not to say the fish are gone, they’re just struggling with not having cooler water levels to reproduce.” * * * With no shortage of great bass fisheries in our state, this year is shaping up to be one for the books, no matter what area you call home. And as far as carrying a lucky rabbit’s foot to improve your fishing mojo, well, there’s nothing wrong with that. Who knows, it might even look enticing to an aggressive, hungry bass if you find yourself looking for a lure that works!

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