I have not abandoned writing about freshwater fishing. Normally by mid-summer, the saltwater action has taken precedence. That doesn’t mean that the sweetwater action has ceased. According to Rayburn professional guide Will Kirkpatrick, the topwater action is really good. The secret is to be on the water when first light appears in the east. The fish seem to be most active around newly exposed structures and patches of vegetation.
If you are not familiar with either Sam Rayburn or Toledo Bend, don’t do the before-daylight thing. Both lakes are from 9 to 10 feet below full pool stage. There are many once submerged stumps, logs and other boat wrecking structure now slightly below the surface. Even a GPS unit will not usually show all of the hazards. If you do head out, be extra alert and take your time.
Once the topwater action stops, then head for the submerged points. Crankbaits in green and Carolina rigged plastics worms have been taking some good bass. There are a good number of Kentucky spotted bass on the sandy points. These fish are fun to catch, but they are too small to keep, for the most part. Every now and then a keeper shows up. Their flesh is really great on the table. It is pure white.
In my opinion, Lake Livingston has been the go-to lake for fish catching. The lake is full and white bass, catfish, and yes, largemouth black bass have been giving anglers plenty of battle time.
Toledo Bend’s water level is even lower than on Sam Rayburn. Whenever the lake becomes as low as it has become now, some of the boat launch areas are not useable. I recommend calling around to some of the marinas and be sure that there is sufficient water to launch and run an outboard motor.
Although they aren’t as popular as they once were, the bluegills are super active in the reservoir. They are fun to catch on ultra-light tackle and they are a table-fare favorite of many folks. The larger ones may be filleted with the small filets being deep-fried or prepared any way that other fish are. The smaller ones can be scaled, the ribs and intestines removed along with the head and deep fried whole. The flesh will easily slide from the bones and the crispy tail and other fins may be eaten, also. Just avoid getting a bone into your throat.
Catfishing for blue and channel catfish has been good on all three lakes. Lake Livingston has probably been the top producer, but both Rayburn and Toledo Bend are right in there. In fact, the larger blue cats have been more numerous at Toledo Bend’s upper areas. Yes, the water is low, but there are hungry catfish in the remainder of the lake.Lake Livingston is one of the places where the blue and channel catfish seem to be hungry almost each and every day. Shad are the most popular bait on this lake. Jugs, noodles and trotlines are super popular catching methods, but rod and reel anglers do extremely well here.
On Sam Rayburn, the better action for catfish has been over submerged brush piles in 18 to 20 feet deep water. Cut bait, live bluegill and commercial bait has all been taking the catfish. Folks after crappie and using shiners for bait are not only taking crappie, but also catfish and white bass.
Rayburn’s black bass bite has been an early morning situation. After that, it goes to crank baits and plastics.
On the saltwater scene, the recent rains might not have cured the drought completely. What it did do was make the action in the inland lakes and bays even better, if that is possible. There has also been an influx of speckled trout at the Sabine Jetty, in Lighthouse Cove and at the short rigs off Cameron, La. There are lots of speckled trout inland, but many of them are too small to meet Texas size limits. The fish at the short rigs are larger. The question now is how long will they stay there?
Some of the folks heading offshore are reporting the need to go out past 40 miles in order to find blue water. I’m sure that there are plenty fish in closer than that, but my reports are from 40 miles and further out. There is a good variety of fish out there including some big red snapper, ling and king. The amberjack, tuna, and other blue water species are better farther out.
It has long been my contention that the best way to locate and catch fish is to put a lure or bait in the water. Always watch the weather and avoid getting too hot in doing so.
Tune in to KSET 1300 at 6 p.m. on Thursdays for Billy Halfin Outdoors and listen to the updates daily at 7:25 a.m., 12:25 p.m. and 6:25 p.m.