LAKE TAWAKONI – One day after a front passes through Northeast Texas and the fishing might be OK. Two days is normally the kiss of death.
It was a crisp fall morning, cool enough for an extra layer of clothing. While the fishing for hybrid striper and white bass fishing wasn’t DOA 48 hours after a front pushed morning temperatures into the 40s, it was not representative of what had been going on.
“Fishing has been actually just spectacular this fall. The water has cooled down and the fish have been going really good,” said guide Joe Read.
Read pulled the boat out of the Holiday Marina stall just after first light. Prior to the front the fish were schooling in the open water early leading to quick limits of hybrids.
Before going anywhere, though, Read stopped just outside the marina and reached for his binoculars. He slowly made a 180-degree scan of the lake in search of birds. As a starting point for hybrids, stripers and white bass the visiting seagulls are much more efficient than even the best electronics.
“There are a lot of birds on the lake this time of year to tell you where the fish are,” Read explained. Actually, the birds are feeding on shad pushed up to the surface by the hybrids and white bass below them.
The good fishing this fall has been triggered by El Nio, the weather system that has also pushed the lake over the spillway again.
“Rainy, cloudy days will be just dynamite. There will be schools all around the lake on cloudy days. The fish tend to feed and just come up more. It is a good time to come out,” Read said.
Like largemouth bass, hybrids and white bass are active feeders during the fall in preparation of the winter cold.
“We are in the fall feeding frenzy right now. They will feed like this for a good while. Then when the water starts to cool off and the fish move out of the shallows, then we will start doing some stuff called dead sticking on the schools out in the middle of the like,” Read said.
There were a number of boats on the lake this morning. Most were struggling to find fish willing to take the bait, either a chartreuse Sassy Shad or 1 ﾽ-ounce slab. No matter where the boats went, they ended up in a pile chasing what appeared to be the most active feeding birds. At the same time the hybrids and white bass remained a moving target, chasing schools of shad as they moved from deeper water up into most shallow depths as the water warmed.
Spotting fish clinging to the lake bottom on his fish finder, at one point Read picked up a large wooden stick he keeps onboard and began tapping the boats deck. The stick is the Read’s answer to the rubber mallet.
No one has a firm answer for why, but fishermen have found that steady tapping on the boat this time of year will bring the fish off the bottom and get them to start feeding. Read admits he doesn’t understand it and was reluctant to try it, until someone showed him the results.
“I was fishing one day and we weren’t catching many fish. (Guide) Matt (Cartwright) called me and said to come over because they were catching fish. We went over there and I was near him and we weren’t catching any fish. He was banging on the boat. I made a circle around him and could see fish everywhere on my fish finder,” Read recalled the day when he became a convert.
It worked again this time, but the catch was almost exclusively white bass.
Read said he plans to experiment this fall with a second trolling motor, using the blade to slap the water’s surface. It is a technique adopted from guides at Lake Texoma.
Even though Tawakoni has stripers, hybrid striped bass and white bass, the majority of the fish caught these days are hybrids or white bass. Spotty production has limited striped bass stocking over the years.
Read said the fish should remain in the fall feeding pattern until the water temperature dips below 50 degrees.
“I am sure they are still out here somewhere, but they become real hard to find when water temp gets that low. I don’t know why, they are probably just somewhere we haven’t looked,” he noted.
For more information on fishing Tawakoni, contact Read at 903-880-7207.
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