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Scott Gaspard

No Fish Today

The white bass were in a feeding frenzy on Lake Travis last weekend. I took the boat out on Saturday. We left the dock at about 7:30 - just as the Sun was peeking over the horizon. I'm glad I had my jacket, because it was about 45 degrees Fahrenheit. My boat can do about 55 mph. I don't know what that equals in terms of wind-chill factor, but my face felt like the way Homer Simpson looks.

The sky was blue, with a few wispy clouds. It started out cold, but warmed up to 80 degrees by noon. The water was clear, and the lake seemed mostly empty of boats, or water for that matter.

I had taken the boat out the day before, and had done some reconnaissance. The lake was so low, I wanted to check out the places where I normally catch fish when the lake is full. My idea was to find out what was holding the fish, so that in the Spring, when the lake is full, I can focus on the spots where I'm most likely to catch fish. On Lake Travis, judging from my prior experience, and from what I learned about the shoreline, I tend to catch more bass where there is a limestone shelf, or some submerged large rocks, or timber. The fish like to hide in the cracks and crevices, waiting for something to ambush as it swims by. Because of this, I look for limestone bluff walls, and usually get lucky casting chartreuse tube jigs right up against the wall, then letting them sink on slack line. If the line jumps, I set the hook. Travis is so clear, especially on a blue-bird day when there hasn't been any rain for a while, the fish seem to really hold tight to the shady spots they can find.

From the dock, we scooted across the main part of the lake, past the U-Float-Um, and up the second creek on the right. I drove around, looking for action. Not finding any, I decided to check out Hurst Harbor. Along the way, I could see some potential spring-time fishing spots that were currently above the water line. We spent 5 minutes hauling ass up the lake, then 30 minutes wasting time in that ridiculously long no wake zone.

I could see fish splashing the surface from about 50 yards out. They were between the docs. There was a lot of action, and some rather large white bass chasing bait. I tried to follow my own advice, and started casting a 1/2 oz chrome & black rattle-trap. I tried to retrieve quickly, while pausing and twitching. This did not get any strikes. I varied my retrieve, trying to get something to hit it at the surface. Nothing.

I remembered the day before, when I saw a fishing guide that was cleaning about 30 nice whites on the dock. I remembered seeing rods with small, green-tailed swim baits, so I tried a swim bait. Not a bite. I tried a weighted swim bait, and oscillated it between the surface and about 4 feet. I tried a shad-colored lipped crank-bait. I tried my Lucky-Craft sinking lipless crankbait -- the one that looks exactly like the real thing -- and I still couldn't get a bite.

I could see the action on my fish-finder, and the fish were breaking the surface all around me. They were eating something! But they weren't going for anything I threw at them. Finally, I gave up in disgust, and switched to fishing for blacks.

The lake was super clear, and super low. The fish must have been 100 feet deep. I could see clearly to 16 feet underwater. I tried my deepest running crankbaits (the ones that wear your arms out after about 3 casts), and thoroughly worked the cover around main lake points. There were nice limestone boulders, caves, cracks & crevices. I did not see any fish, or get any bites.

There were other fishermen on the lake. I wonder if they were catching anything. I fished all morning, and did not get so much as a single bite. I saw one guy hanging out near the southern shore, just west of Emerald Point Marina. He was there almost all day. He was either the most patient guy in the world, or he was catching something. I think I will check that spot out next Saturday.

Later, I was thinking about my fishing day, and I realized that I did not even attempt to use a spoon. Now that I think about it, the activity I was seeing on sonar was mostly between 20 and 40 feet. I think the white bass were hanging out low, then swimming up on minnows as they passed overhead. They would chase a minnow out of the water, which was what we were seeing. I bet if I jigged a small chrome spoon at about 20 feet, I could catch some. I think I'll try that out next Saturday, too.

I'll let you know how it goes.

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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