Although Tawakoni rose to fame by producing tons of eating-sized channel catfish, its big-fish history is just as impressive. After all, just check out the new records for the three species of catfish that have been set there since 2006: a 16.5-pound channel cat caught by Stanley Winkle on July 1,2009; a 75-pound yellow cat caught by Lamar Evans on May 17, 2008; and a 69.60-pound blue cat caught by Ronald Lachman on Jan. 16, 2006. All three record fish were caught on shad, which should tell you something about the influence of that forage species on this incredible catfish fishery.
If there were any lake in the state that could lay claim to being the "Juglining Capital of Texas" for huge blue catfish, it would have to be Lake Texoma. The Red River border impoundment annually attracts scores of anglers with jugs made from Styrofoam, PVC pipe, bleach bottles and just about anything else that will float and is suited for attaching a line, weight and hook. And those rigs catch big blues weighing from 15 to 60 pounds or more on a regular basis beginning in about January and running through early March.
Texoma is loaded with a huge population of gizzard and threadfin shad. That's one reason the lake has become renowned as one of the best striped bass fishing lakes in the country, and also why it produces so many large catfish. It also is the reason why shad is the primary bait used to catch big catfish there.
The upper Red River channel attracts large numbers of jugliners, including many from the Fort Worth-Dallas Metroplex who arrive in groups with as many as 18 or more anglers. "Teams" from these group run strings of jugs numbering 30 or more, each rigged with reflective tape so they can find them easily at night under spotlights.
But jugliners are not the only anglers tapping into Texoma's great blue cat fishery. Rod-and-reel anglers catch their share, too. After all, the state record and former world record blue cat weighing 121 1/2 pounds was caught on a rod and reel by Cody Mullenix in 2004.
In late spring and early summer, drifting shad and cut perch in the creeks and more shallow areas at night is a great way to catch not only big blues but also giant yellow cats. During the colder winter months, the open waters along the edges of the Red River channel and major creek channels produce the most big blue cat catches.
Warm year-round climates, warm hospitality and friendships, and hot channel cat fishing: That's what Falcon Reservoir is all about. I've fished this Texas-Mexico lake near Zapata since 1968, and it is by far my favorite South Texas pick for a place where the fish seem always to be biting. It's also where great friends like Ramiro Torres of Holiday Restaurant and Robert Amaya of Robert's Fishing Tackle in Zapata always are there with open arms and good advice on where to catch fish.