Buchanan Boomer

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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.

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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