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Cattin’ The Lone Star State
Channel cats, blues and flatheads occur all over the big lake, but Buchanan has more blues than it does the other two varieties.
For information on Lake Buchanan see www.tpwd.state.tx.us/fishboat/ fish/recreational/lakes/buchanan , www.lcra.org/water/dams/buchanan , and the Burnet Chamber of Commerce, www.burnetchamber.org .
The lake record is 40.75 pounds for blues, and anglers should have no trouble finding a place to fill an ice chest with good eating-sized channel cats.
“The trophy opportunities for blues on Toledo are good, with the vast majority of the fishing in the upper third of the reservoir, along the Sabine River delta,” said Todd Driscoll, fisheries superintendent based in Jasper. “Williams Camp and Bill’s Landing are known for the sheer number of pounds of catfish caught, mostly by passive means” -- which is to say trotlines or jugs.
But Toledo’s a lot of lake, and the state’s biggest impoundment holds plenty of channel cats, although very few seem to grow longer than 18 inches.
On the other hand, there’s Martin Creek Reservoir in Rusk County, three miles southwest of Tatum off state Highway 43. Impounded in 1974, it’s a cooling lake for a Texas Electric power plant.
“It’s unique in East Texas,” Driscoll said. “It used to be known as a good bass lake. But it had a lot of hydrilla, and that was eradicated. That turned the dynamics around. It’s shifted to channel cats, and it’s absolutely loaded with them.”
How loaded? Enough that in a recent creel survey, wardens and biologists found that more than 50 percent of anglers fished from the bank of this 4,981-acre impoundment. For a Texas lake, that’s an extraordinary level of non-boat fishing activity. And those shorebound fishermen are out for catfish, not bass.
“A 10 percent total for bank-fishing is high on most lakes,” he said.
Bank-fishing is unusually prominent at Martin Creek because it gets results: Folks are on average pulling in 1.2 catfish per hour. Too, as Driscoll points out, creel surveys only reflect the success of rod-and-reel anglers. Passive gear also pulls in a lot of poundage, but data’s hard to come by.
Rod-and-reel aficionados are using a little of everything in bringing those channel cats in, Driscoll said. “Stink bait, earthworms, some are baiting holes, some are just setting up next to a stump and throwing a line in. You really can’t go wrong on this lake.”
To make good news even better, three or so years ago the TPWD stocked the lake with blue cats. “In time, we’ll be seeing some big blues coming out of there,” he said.
The neat thing about East Texas lakes is that nearly three out of four anglers go after bass. As Driscoll put it: “The catfish population is relatively unexploited, which means you have a pretty good chance of catching fish.”
For more information on fishing the lake, see ://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/ martincreek , or call Martin Creek State Park at (903) 836-4336. For Toledo Bend information, contact the Jasper Chamber of Commerce at (409) 384-2762, or visit www.tpwd. state.tx.us/fishboat/fish/recreational/ lakes/toledo_bend .
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