Last year left many fond memories for those anglers who took advantage of the low water conditions on Sam Rayburn. Stockpiles of big fish seemed to be found in every pocket on the lake. A 20lb stringer of bass might not even get you a check in a one day tournament.
Don’t expect things to be easy this year. So far, a 20lb stringer of fish might just win the tournament. What seems to be the problem? Where did all those big fish go? Some are quick to say that too many fish were taken from the lake last year, but the state fisheries biologists claim the bass population was not effected and the numbers of fish are fine.
So where have the fish gone? Everywhere that’s where! The lake has come up over 14 feet since last summer. This has left a playground of new cover for these fish. The hydrilla is sitting in 12 to 25 feet of water, new willows are now in 10 feet of water and the hay (Johnson grass, ect.) is sitting in 9’ and runs into the flooded buck brush then onto the bank.
These Rayburn bass are scattered like crazy. The fishermen and fisherwomen have their work cut out for them this year. Maybe we all got spoiled last year but its time to move on and figure these bass out.
So, what do we do know? First you must pick an area to start such as the Black Forest, Harvey Creek, Buck Bay or any other area that you have confidence in. There should be plenty of fish in the 1-15 foot range. Start by fishing in the back of the pockets or drains and work your way out. One of the most important things is to fish slowly and thoroughly. With so much cover to cast at, it’s easy to miss a lot of fish. Be patient and with a little work, the bite will come. It is very possible to take all day to fish one area, but once you figure out the pattern you can go most anywhere on the lake and continue to catch fish.
Realize the cover can be very thick and may require the use of weedless baits. Lures such as a Stanley Jig, Texas rigged lizard or worm and a soft jerk bait are all excellent choices to throw at these Rayburn bass. After these bass have spawned you may want to switch to some more aggressive baits such as a buzz bait, jerk bait or a Stanley Baby Wedge spinner bait.
Most all Texas lakes were low last year and have come up, leaving plenty of new cover. These same techniques will work on any of them. Don’t forget to take your camera so you can show your friends your catch, but please release those fish back into the lake. Bass are a precious resource that must be respected.