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Scott Gaspard


At certain time of the year, the only lure you need is a 1/2 Oz Chrome and Black Rattletrap. In early May, on LBJ this lure is deadly cast against the banks, on points, and even over open water. I have caught catfish, largemouth, whites, stripers, and crappie in the same day using this lure. I like to replace the front hook with a red anodized Gamakatsu treble hook, which simulates a bleeding shad when the lure moves through the water. The only drawback to using this super-sharp hook on the front of your lure, is that the points tend to chip off the chrome paint on the rattletrap. In my opinion, the rattletrap is a cheap lure that works, but doesn't last very long. You can find them at Academy for about $4, so buy about 5 or 6 of them. They get hung up easily, especially when casting banks. So, unless you are really good at maneuvering the boat, and getting your lure unstuck, you will be happy you had some spares. Plus, when your fishing buddy sees all of the fish you are catching, you can bet he's going to want to "borrow" one.

The trick to the rattletrap is learning how to work it. You could just cast and retrieve, and you will catch some fish, but if you want to maximize your luck it takes a little more finesse. I like to use a medium-action 6.5" rod with a flexible tip. Cast past cover, and retrieve quickly but twitch and pause every few seconds. It will take some practice to get to where you can do this without getting the line wrapped around the front treble hook. If you can master the technique, bass can't resist and will slam the lure on the pause. You will tend to catch a lot of smaller fish with this lure, but it works very well.

If you are trolling around, and you see a big school of white bass in a feeding frenzy, cast this lure past the school, and use the same technique. You will catch a fish on every cast. White bass are fun to catch, they fight like crazy, and they taste great, too.

If you go fishing a lot, don't get too attached to this lure -- it works in Spring. Just when I thought that I never needed to buy another lure, it stopped working. I couldn't get a bite. Time to fall back to worm fishing. I have always found that when all else fails, tie on a worm and fish it slow. You will catch a few fish, and they will probably be bigger to boot.

Fair-Weather Fisherman

I keep hearing about how bass fishing can be good in the Winter time. On more than one occasion I have gotten up early on a Saturday with the full intention of fishing all day, only to open the door to the garage where I keep my boat, feel the inrush of cold air, mutter an unmentionable expletive, then scurry back to the warmth of my bed. I guess I can be a wuss at times. I still can't help beating myself up when I resign myself to watching Loudmouth Bass, and I could have been on the lake freezing my butt off, and probably having a great time! I suppose I could get a late start, and salvage at least part of the day; the problem is that if I don't escape the house by the time my wife wakes up, I end up doing honeydoos all day. I need something to remind me of this when I open up the garage door.

I did manage to make it out a few time last year, when the air temperature was in the 30s and the water temperature was in the 40s. I even managed to catch a couple of fish. Last winter, I caught some white bass jigging a spoon over a 45' deep hump on Lake Buchanan. I haven't figured out how to catch more than one or two when its this cold, so its hard to justify the effort.

As long as you have the right gear, you can handle the cold without being too uncomfortable. I keep some Carhartt insulated coveralls, a pair of neoprene gloves, and a sock cap onboard for those occasions. I wear the coveralls over my clothes, so that I can shed the layers if it starts warming up. My face tends to freeze when I'm motoring around, so I might spring for one of those Save Phase masks this year. Maybe if I dress up like Darth Vadar, I can use the force to catch more fish! At least my head wont be numb, and I wont have snotsicles hanging from my nose by the time I get to the fishing hole. Its difficult to thread the fishing line through the hook eye when your hands are shaking because your teeth are chattering too hard.

I am going to try to get out on the lake, at least once or twice this Winter. My goal is to go pro one day, so I better get used to fishing in all kinds of conditions. I'll keep you posted -- I'm sure there will be a good fish story, even if I don't catch many fish.

Horny Toads

I started fishing the Zoom Horny Toad soon after it came out, last
year. I've caught more fish on this lure, than anything else in my
tackle box.For the lakes around Central Texas, the yellow and the white seem to get the most hits. It works best fishing the banks, early in the morning, or wherever there is grass, or floating vegetation.

I was fishing LBJ this fall, when I found an island surrounded by a grassy shore. There was lots of vegetation in mats around the island, and a rocky ridge that ran up the north-west side of the island, about 20 feet off-shore, and about 4-6 feet deep. I would cast one of these horny toads rigged weedless up onto the bank, then pull the lure into the water. I would steady retrieve the frog along the top of the water, and pause at a stick in the water, or a floating log, or a patch of weeds. As soon as I would stop the retrieve, I would get a strike every time. The bass were using the ridge to patrol the shoreline, and using the isolated cover as ambush points. The water was very clear and shallow between the ridge and the shoreline. As soon as I would get on top of the ridge, I would get a strike. I must have caught 12 fish within an hour. I must have missed about 12 more! The one problem I have with this lure is that the bass tend to short-strike, and miss the hook. They seem to be more attracted to the action of the frogs legs, than the body of the frog. I've thought about attaching a trailing hook, but this would ruin the weedless qualities of this bait. I would like to see another similar design with the legs attached to the front of the lure. This would get the kicking action closer to the body of the frog, where the hook is at.

I've used this lure successfully on LBJ, Stillhouse Hollow, and Lake Travis. I have not tried it anywhere else, but my guess is that it would work equally well.

Buchanan Boomer

Buchanan is a big lake. It can swallow you up, if you are not careful. When you are sitting in an 17' bass boat, in the middle of the big part of the lake, and you see clouds like these moving up from the south-east its time to get off the water! Luckily, when I took this picture I was safe on dry land. Needless to say, it wasn't dry for long!

I usually have a good time on Buchanan. Its a great place to camp, and there are some interesting sites if you motor past the top part of the lake, up the Colorado river. There are several sets of waterfalls, and some great swimming holes.

Fishing can be a challenge because the lake is so big, the fish can be difficult to locate. Buchanan is famous for its striper fishing; A friend of mine and I hired a guide to take us out, along with my friends two sons. We spent the first two hours tracking down the fish, then the next 30 minutes bagging the limit! That's 5 fish apiece, with 4 people fishing. 20 fish in 30 minutes, not one of them under 7 lbs!

We used shad for bait. You have to keep the shad in a cylindrical bait-well, because they are easily bruised by bumping into the sides of the containers. When the weather is warm, the shad wont last more than a couple of minutes, unless you keep the water circulating, use oxygenated, and keep your hands out of the tank! You use a short leader, and a 1 oz egg weight (similar to a redfish rig). You hook the shad through the nose; this keeps them alive and kicking (you can actually re-use the shad if you don't catch anything, by putting them back into the bait-well).

The guide motors around until he spots the fish on sonar. The rods are in holders on the down-current side of the boat. You let out enough line to get the bait just above where the fish are feeding. The rocking motion of the boat gives the bait enough action to trigger a strike. This method is quite effective, but its more like commercial fishing than anything. I don't particularly care for this kind of fishing.

Unfortunately, the guide seemed more intent on getting back to the dock, than on showing us a good time. I don't recommend Ken Milam Guide Service. Yes, we caught fish, but the guide had us each rig 3 rods (that's 12 lines in the water, with two kids under 13 years old). This was a real cluster-u-know-what. The stripers were large, and tended to get hung up in all of the lines that were in the water. I spent most of the trip rigging lines for the kids (that's the guides job, right?), and tripping over rods when I would have liked to have been fishing. When one of the lines got tangled up with a fish that was being brought in, and a rod was subsequently pulled into the water, Ken Milam tried to charge me $100 bucks for the crappy used rod and reel! That's in addition to the $450 bucks for the guide service. The rods all had broken tips, and the reels looked like they had been fully depreciated 2 decades ago! I told Ken that it was the guides job to manage the rods and reels, and if he didn't have so many rods out, there would not have been a problem. I told him the lost rod and reel was the cost of doing business. The guy is a real prick, and there are plenty of other guide services on the lake. Next time, I will use Rick's Striper Service. It looks like he runs a first-class operation. I would much rather have a single rod and reel per person, and catch the same amount of fish over two hours, than in 30 minutes.

ok, take a deep breath, and exhale slowly...

Largemouth fishing can be good at certain times of the year. I find it best to use some kind of crank bait, and fish the bluff walls on the south-east corner of the lake. If you are not on the spot when the sun comes up, about 6 other boats will be. It pays to camp out the night before, and get on the lake early to beat the locals.

I have found that I have a better fishing time on Lake LBJ than Buchanan, and its not nearly as much work handling the boat. I do intend to go back to Buchanan a few times this year, particularly because I enjoy camping there, and stripers are very tasty fish.

Stripers are actually sea-going fish that spawn up rivers. When they were accidentally land-locked after the construction of an east-coast dam, scientists thought they would perish. The stripers actually flourished on a diet of rough fish, like shad. Rough fish compete with desirable species for resources in freshwater lakes. Scientists quickly realized the benefit of stocking stripers in man-made impoundments, because they could help control the populations of rough fish, and allow more desirable game fish like largemouth bass to flourish. Stripers can be found in many inland reservoirs for this reason, but they do not occur naturally in any of them. There are no self-maintaining populations of stripers, primarily because they like to spawn in fast-moving waters, typically found miles up river from the main body of a lake. Since most river impoundments are a series of dams, the stripers can not make it far enough upstream to spawn. There are a few lakes where stripers are successfully spawning, but they are few and far between. Lake Texoma is known to have second-generation stripers, but I don't know of any other lakes in Texas that can claim this.

Stripers have a very mild, slightly sweet taste, and firm flesh. They are easy to clean, and produce beautiful fillets. I once tried to blacken striper fillets like a redfish. I found that the taste was excellent, and this is now my favorite way to prepare this very tasty fish.

Hackberry Hustle

The results of my fishing trip on Lake Calcasieu last May exceeded my already high expectations. I had planned another trip this fall, but unfortunately hurricane Rita put an end to that.

My family has been using Hackberry Cajun Guide Service for several years -- they are the best! They really know how to put you on the fish. After you fish until your about to drop, you get to hang out at the lodge and drink beer while they cook up the best cajun food you have ever had! Trust me, I was born in Louisiana, and I have gumbo running through my veins. I never thought I would say this, but these guys cook better than my grandma! The guides clean all of your fish, and they earn every penny that they make, I guarantee!

Cajun Guide Service
Hackberry, LA 70645

I saw captain Freddy on TV after the hurricane, and the camp looked like it was wiped out. I almost cried! We talked to Freddy, and he said they might be open again in the Spring. I sure hope so, because I will be one of the first to sign up. We consistently have a terrific time, and I can't say enough good stuff about these folks.

Here's how it works... You arrive on Friday, claim a bunk, and start drinking beer. Soon after the sun goes down, they serve dinner. The first night is fried fish, more than likely caught and cleaned that morning. There is hush-puppies, cole-slaw, banana pudding, you cant stop eating! Its not long after dinner that you fall asleep. You had better set the alarm clock, though because the boats leave the dock at 5 am! Grab some coffee and a quick breakfast, and better do your business because its non-stop fishing until about 2 pm. Then you get to hang out with your friends and drink beer for the rest of the day until they serve the best gumbo that you have ever had! There's also potato salad, and pie for desert. The next day, you do it all again. After fishing on the second day, you pack up and go home. You better bring a jug of cajun coffee, because its a long drive back to Houston after fishing all day!

This last May, we launched extra early on Saturday. As we made our way across the lake, you could see the water boiling with redfish! Capt. Freddy looked like a little kid, he was so excited. He said, "that's 5 acres of redfish!". He cut the engine about 100 yards away, and he put the trolling motor on high to get ahead of the school without spooking the fish. I had on a lemon colored soft-plastic jerkbait (bass assassin) rigged weightless. I cast just ahead of a big redfish, and began twitching the lure. A giant mouth came out of the water, inhaled my lure, and moved off like a tug-boat pushing an oil tanker. The fight was on! It took me about 20 minutes to land the fish. We caught 3 more like that before a weekend warrior ran his boat full-throttle right through the middle of the school! The fish scattered, and that was the end of that! Freddy was pissed! That was just the beginning of a great fishing day, though.

Once the redfish scattered, we motored to the south-eastern shore of Lake Calcasieau, and drifted while casting pogies and shrimp on popping corks. I enjoy fishing artificial more than with bait, so I used a 1/2oz jig-head on a lemon bass assassin. I would cast as far as possible, wait a few seconds for the lure to sink, then pop up on my rod to simulate a fleeing shrimp or pogie. I was catching lots of small speckled trout, and a few keepers. The trick with specs is not to set the hook like when fishing for bass. They have very soft mouths, and you will pull the hook right through their lips! In my experience, the best way to catch one when you feel it bite is to apply steady pressure while you reel in while keeping the rod-tip down. If you let the fish breach the surface, it will easily throw the lure. Especially if you are fishing a jig. The fish shakes from side to side, and the weight slaps around, and pulls the hook right through the fishes lips. If you start feeling strong sudden bites, then pull your jig up to see that half of the plastic is gone, you have probably found some bluefish. Its best to go to the other side of the boat, unless you have a big bag of lures. The bluefish have sharp teeth, and will ruin your lure every time!

The biggest trout were caught along the edge of reefs. They seemed to be using the reef to sneek up on bait, similar to a bass patrolling a ridge. I found that in some places, artificial lures were used exclusively. According to the guides, if the fish are hitting on artificial, they will stop if you start throwing live bait. This was fine by me. I dont like fishing with bobbers, because you cant feel the fish bite. You have to watch the bobber, and this can be very fatiguing. If you want to fish with bait, you put a couple of split-pea weights about a foot above the hook, and a popping bobber about 2 feet above that. You hook the shrimp through the V-shape at the bottom of the tail. This seems to work the best for keeping the bait on the hook. If you are using pogies, hook through the eye sockets. This keeps the bait alive longer than when hooking it through the body. You cast out as far as you can, then give a strong jerk on the line every 20 seconds or so to pop the bobber. The bobber is designed to make a loud popping in the water, which attracts the fish. It sounds like a shrimp popping its tail to escape a predator. The same rules apply when setting the hook. Don't do it! Just apply steady pressure while reeling in, and keeping the rod top low. I find it difficult to get a good cast with a bobber two feet up above the hook. Especially if you have 4 people on the boat, and there are several rods standing up from the center console. For me, its much easier to use a bait-cast reel on a 7 foot stout rod with a flexible tip, 15 lb test line, and artificial bait. I can use an under-hand cast from the side of the boat, get a good cast and avoid getting hung up on someone else's line.

The wind makes a huge difference in the quality and quantity of fish you can catch. As long as the wind was out of the south-east, we were catching fish. As soon as the wind shifted to the south-west, the bite stopped dead. By mid-day, the wind was blowing strong out of the south-west, so we headed back to the camp, but stopped at a couple of small bays on the west side of the ICW (Inter-Coastal Waterway). The ICW has a fairly high berm that blocks the wind somewhat. The good news was that the redfish were working these bays, and were easily located by following schools of pogies around the shallows. You can see the pogies clearly when the sun was out; small schools of a couple hundred would move around in large black-looking balls. When the sun was behind clouds, you could see a shimmer on the surface of the water that would mark the bait. I soon determined that there was one large redfish behind every school. We caught several strong reds before calling it a day, and heading in around 2:00.

All-in-all, it was a very good weekend. I hope they can recover from the hurricane damage, so that I can go back again in the Spring!

Red Bull

Could you imagine standing beside the freeway, and casting out to snag the bumper of a speeding truck as it passes by? That's about the only way I can adequately describe catching this torpedo! Its got lips bigger than Mick Jagger!

I caught this behemoth at the mouth of the Brazos in late September. The water was choked with large shad, weighing as much as a pound. The guide I was with threw his cast net one time, and could barely bring it up, it was so full of shad. He emptied about 5 of them into a bucket; this is what we used for bait.

The guide said that you don't want to use live shad when there is so much live bait in the water -- there is nothing to distinguish your bait from the billion or so other fish in the water. So we used freshly killed shad, hooked through the nose, and cut up the side. We were catching and releasing fish one after the next, while all the other boats looked and wondered what we were doing right, and what they were doing wrong. I was using light tackle -- a 7 foot redfish rod, with a Shimano Calais reel, 15 lb test monofilament line, a short 40 lb test leader, and a 1 ounce egg weight above the leader. I caught a lot more sharks than redfish, including a very nice 20 lb black-tip, which I kept. By lunch-time my arms felt like they would fall off!

When we first departed in the morning, I told the guide that I wanted to catch and release bull redfish. The guide had a plan to do just that. After buying a couple of bags of frozen mullet at the bait shop, the guide took me straight out the ship channel into the gulf, about 1 mile offshore. Keep in mind the boat was a shallow-water skiff with about a 12" freeboard. The water wasn't exactly rough, but 2 foot swells are enough to make you uncomfortable on a shallow water skiff. Once we arrived at the 'spot', the guide started cutting up the mullet, and chumming up the water. He said, 'We won't get a bite for about 30 minutes, and then you wont put your rod down for 3 hours!'. Skeptically, I said 'ok', and proceeded to bait my line and cast out. Sure enough, 30 minutes later, my rod was bent double, the line was singing out, and I was trying hard to wipe the grin off my face and get serious about landing whatever it was that was about to pull me overboard. Soon enough, I got the fish up next to the boat to find out it was a large bull shark. I promptly cut the line and started to re-bait when my other rod started singing out. Within another 30 minutes, I had hooked onto several large sharks. This is a harrowing experience, considering the rolling motion of the small boat, and the giant toothy fish that were trying to pull me in! The birds were working the mullet heads that floated on the water. I heard a large splash, and turned around to see a 10-foot shark jump out of the water and grab a gull! I turned to the guide and said, "maybe we'll have better luck inshore." I'm glad he couldn't see that I was about to pee my pants!

In addition to offshore, and the mouth of the Brazos, we also fished up the Brazos, and in a few locks along the ICW. During the day, I caught lots of sand trout, several speckled trout, a few large nasty catfish, and a very tasty 6 lb flounder. Catfish are the downside of this type of fishing. They excrete this foul, sticky spunk that gets all over your line and hands. Its best to release them with a pair of pliers while hanging over the side of the boat. If you let them flop around the bottom of your boat, you can easily create a very dangerous, slippery situation. Needless to say, you don't want to be worrying about slipping on catfish-crank when you have a fifty-pound shark on the line!

In my opinion there is nothing better than fighting a bull redfish for half an hour, then letting him go! I wish more people would catch and release these giants so that they can make more babies. A redfish tastes like crap once it gets bigger than legal size, anyways. I once used my redfish tag to keep a 42" redfish. I was amazed at the size of the fillets that I got from it. When I attempted to cook it though, I was sorely disappointed. I tried it blackened, fried, baked -- it tasted strong and rubbery no matter how I tried to cook it. The only thing that I could make that tasted halfway decent was a court-bouillon pronounced 'coo-bee-yon', which is a cajun, tomato-based fish stew. Lets face it, you can only eat so much fish stew, and I had over 20 lbs of meat! Let the big ones go! The small ones taste fine, but the beauty of redfish is the fight, not the taste. Think about it -- the reason they came up with blackened redfish (redfish covered with about 10 kinds of pepper and burned in butter), is because the fish alone doesn't taste very good!

Honey Hump

This is a decent bass I caught on Lake LBJ last summer. I was using a chartreuse yamamoto senko worm in about 15 feet deep near a sandy offshore hump. The wind was blowing about 10 mph out of the southeast, and there was a slight current in the water from the power plant intake nearby. The water was slightly stained. I had caught about 5-6 smaller bass in shallow water around the hump earlier in the morning, but as the sun came up and the bite declined, I decided to move deep and anchor down. I was downwind from the hump, where a underwater ridge intersected with a submerged brush pile. It was about 11:00 am. The water temperature was about 85 degrees, and the air temperature was about 95. I cast deep, and drew the worm about 45 degrees toward the ridge. The bass hit about 10 feet from the boat.

I have had lots of success at this location throughout the seasons, which I dubbed 'honey hump' on my lake map. The hump is about 100 yards offshore from a secondary point. There is a shallow ridge that runs parallel to the shore and bypasses the hump. The bait gets backed up against the hump, and bass patrol the ridge to ambush the bait. I can fairly consistently catch fish here, so I usually stop here on the way out, and on the way back to the dock.

The little camera on my cell-phone doesn't do the fish much justice, but I only had one hand free. This one was about 6 lbs, and looked like he swallowed a baseball!

I regularly fish lakes around Central Texas, including (but not limited to) Travis, Inks, Buchanan, Stillhouse Hollow, Georgetown, Austin, and Bastrop. In my opinion, LBJ is by far the best fishing lake around. The beauty about LBJ is that it is a relatively constant-level lake, with large populations of various fish species. I have caught everything from channel catfish, crappie, largemouth, Guadalupe, spotted bass to white bass and striper. You can't just drop a lure in the water and expect to catch fish, though. There are lots of variations to the lake features, including granite shoals, sandy bottoms, muddy bottoms, grass, stumps, bluffs, and it has river and large lake qualities. If you are willing to burn a little fuel in your boat, you can eventually find the conditions you are looking for. Half of the lake is highly developed, while the other half has no development at all. You can spend half the day fishing stumps, and the other half pitching docks. There's not too many pleasure boaters or jet-skis, but where there are you can find ways to use them to your advantage.

One of the things I like best about LBJ is that it helps me to be a better bass fisherman. I have found that bass set up on strong seasonal patterns, but they are far from predictable. Once you have learned the pattern though, you can easily catch 15-20 fish in a morning. I strictly practice catch-and-release, and I hope that anyone who reads this article and decides to try out LBJ based on my advice does the same.

Once small piece of advice -- (I don't want to reveal all of my tricks) -- keep a 1/2 once chrome and black rattle-trap rigged up on light line. If you see a school of white bass in a feeding frenzy (common in spring time), cast beyond the school and quickly reel in the lure, while pausing and popping every few seconds. Once you get the rhythm, you will catch a fish on every cast. Guaranteed.

About me

  • I'm Scott Gaspard
  • From Austin, Texas, United States
  • I really like to fish. I go every chance I can. You can pretty much bet that at any given moment, I'm using whatever spare cycles I have to plan my next trip.
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