A line stripping option for anglers looking for a fight in cooler weather

The striped bass certainly won’t win any Texas statewide popularity contests, but there are a handful of Lone Star Lakes where Morone saxatilis kicks in and gets a lot of attention along the way.

Anyone who’s ever caught one of the double-digit-breaking saltwater transplants will agree that strippers are pretty rough clients with nasty dispositions. Think of the tenacious titans as a pool cross between Dick Butkus and Mike Tyson wrapped in a stick of silver dynamite with a very short wick.

This fuse tends to become particularly short at the end of spring, when the warming temperatures stimulate their metabolism and trigger violent frenzies for food on the unfortunate schools of shad.

Sometimes the attacks are so vicious that they send the succulent baitfish to the wheel in a last second for added safety. Throw a plug of surface water into an active bloodbath and it probably won’t dance for long.

Fall and winter assaults on swimbaits, lipless cranks, and other shad knockoffs aren’t as exciting as surface blasts, but they can be just as violent.

Barbara Pope from Frisco knows the script well. Pope and a few friends were fishing on the Oklahoma side of Lake Texoma on a cold December day in 2014, when a large tracer snapped the jig head that fishing guide Chris Carey had knocked over with a Zoom Fluke.

The mighty fish line lifted off the reel at will and angler Pope fought to retrieve it – a little at a time – whenever she had the chance. It took a while, but she ended up playing the striper in the landing net.

Carey said the fish weighed 27.29 pounds on certified scales. Bill Carey, owner of the Striper Express guide service in Pottsboro, said it was the biggest striper ever carried in his son’s boat in 28 years on the water. Texoma’s record for the Texas side captured in 1984 still stands at 35.12 pounds.

Much bigger strippers have been captured elsewhere. Texas Parks and Wildlife’s Top 50 Plotter list ranges from 31.75 pounds to 53 pounds, including 14 fish over 40 pounds.

The state record was captured in 1999 in the Brazos River tailrace channel downstream from the Possum Kingdom Dam. The most recent Top 50 fish was reported from the Guadalupe River in 2006.

As previously mentioned, there aren’t many lakes in Texas where strippers reign supreme, but there are a few. Here are some of the best:

No. 1: Texoma

Area: 75,000 acres

Lake record: 35.12 pounds

Comments: This is a five-star impoundment that supports one of the few self-sustaining striper fisheries in the United States. Since then, the fishery has managed to sustain itself over the abundant spawning periods that occur each spring in the free-flowing Washita and Red rivers that feed it.

The stripper plant produces a mega-count of edible-sized fish, but it’s also a plant where trophy hunters have a good chance of hooking up with 14-17 pound fish, or most likely one of over 20, according to Dan Bennett, district supervisor for TPWD. based in Pottsboro.

“Intensive angler surveys conducted in 2019 and 2020 estimated that Texoma stripper anglers catch just over a million striped bass each year and bring home about half of those fish to eat,” Bennett said.

And these fishermen spend a cargo of dough in the process. Economic studies indicate that striper fishing injects around $ 44 million per year into local businesses.

Surprisingly, the fishery is able to maintain this type of production without the outside help of the annual restocking required to transport some of the other Texas lakes.

“The catch rates in the nets indicate that the abundance of stripers is currently more than 10 times what we see in lakes where stocking is necessary to maintain the fishery,” Bennett said.

Fishermen can retain 10 per day. There is no minimum length limit, but only two stripers or hybrids over 20 inches can be held each day. The slaughter of striped bass and hybrid striped bass is prohibited.

# 2: Whitney

Area: 23,500 acres

Lake record: 39.69 pounds

Comments: Whitney is on a roll these days thanks to the constant inflows from the Brazos and Nolan rivers, which have helped to keep the water level near constant, bolster vital populations of thread shad and reduce the threat of overgrowth golden algae that kill fish.

“These factors, combined with an aggressive approach to stocking and some natural reproduction over the past few years, has resulted in incredible striper fishing for numbers,” said TPWD fisheries biologist John Tibbs of Waco. “There is also an outside chance of catching a big one. It’s as good or better than at any time in the past.

The biologist says anglers can expect to find plenty of stripers reaching just the legal size (18 inches), most in the 3-4 pound range.

“Right now the lake is absolutely full of 17-19 inch fish,” he said. “It is not unusual for average anglers to go out and catch 10 to 30 trolling fish on windy spots and flats.”

Anglers can keep 5 fish with a minimum length of 18 inches per day.

N ° 3: Kingdom of the Possums

Area: 15,588 acres

Lake record: 34.19 pounds

Comments: Robert Mauk, TPWD Fisheries Biologist, says Possum Kingdom has benefited from increased water levels and flows in recent years, resulting in sufficient natural reproduction and recruitment for that stocking has not been necessary since 2017. The lake also maintains an abundant population of string shad to help keep strippers bold and sassy.

Mauk said the lake currently has good numbers with lots of 16-20 inch fish. Fish over 12 pounds are reported occasionally, but not often.

Soaking Live Shad is a highly preferred tactic on PK, although success can also be achieved on slabs, jig / swimbait combos, and surface waters.

“Tracking working birds is the easiest technique for locating fish when birds are working,” Mauk said. “Otherwise, most anglers rely a lot on their electronics. “

An added bonus is fishing in the Brazos River tailrace below the dam. This is a great option when the winds pick up or for anglers struggling to locate biting fish on the main lake.

The tailrace bite can sometimes be exceptional, especially for large fish weighing over 20 pounds. The state record of 53 pounds was captured there in 1999.

Anglers can keep five striped / hybrid bass per day, minimum length limit 18 inches.

# 4: Buchanan

Area: 22,211 acres

Lake record: 27.80

Comments: Patrick Ireland, TPWD Fisheries Biologist, says the scenic Hill Country Impoundment near Burnet is generally large in number but small in size. While recreational anglers often have limits of 3 to 5 pounds with sometimes a double digit number, fish above the 10 pound mark appear only in TPWD’s sampling efforts.

“A 15-20 pound will be considered a ‘big’ fish for Buchanan based on our sampling and creel data,” Ireland said.

Ireland said guides and weekends generally have the best results trolling inline spinners, spoons, swim baits, Rat-L-Traps or dipping live bait. Topwaters can also produce exceptional results, especially during the spring months.

“The most important aspect is to look for baitfish and not to sit too long in an unproductive area,” Ireland said. “Keep going until you find the tracers.” “

The limit is five fish per day, 18 inches minimum.

# 5: Canyon Lake

Area: 8,308 acres

Lake record: 38.12 pounds

Comments: Canyon is fed by the cool, clear waters of the Guadalupe River just north of New Braunfels. Likewise, the Comal County Reservoir experiences moderate fluctuations, maintains excellent water clarity throughout the year, but lacks nutrients.

Despite its low productivity, the lake still has an abundant forage base for gizzard shad to feed what is arguably the best trophy-class striper fishery in the hilly region.

According to Patrick Ireland, TPWD fisheries biologist, Canyon is best known for producing fish that are larger than large numbers.

“Typically, stripers provide a popular catch-and-release fishing opportunity in Canyon, as guides and angler reports show the availability of quality, trophy-sized fish,” he said. declared. “A large Canyon plotter weighs 10-17 pounds.”

Anglers rely on a variety of tactics to catch fish. Trolling with line spinners or throwing crank baits and large swim baits are popular methods. The lake also sometimes produces an explosive action of surface waters, especially in low light conditions when surface temperatures are moderate. Spoons and live baits such as shad or big minnows also work well, Ireland said.

Statewide regulations apply, 5 fish per day, 18 inches minimum.

About Patricia Kilgore

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