Bridgeport Bonanza

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This past weekend, I rented a cabin on Lake Bridgeport. We got there on Thursday, and returned on Monday. The cabin had a boat slip, so I got to go fishing several times over three and a half days.

We stayed at North Side Marina, which is situated on one of the North West arms of the lake. The marina is in a protected cove with a large no-wake zone, so it was easy to take the boat out using only the trolling motor. Although the wind was fairly strong by bass-fishing standards, the cove was well protected and calm. It was a very pleasant experience, and at only about $80 per night, I will most likely use them again.

The lake was about 12 feet below full, so access was somewhat limited when it came to launching the boat. The marina owner was kind enough to ride with me as I drove around to Wise County Park, which is located on the North East side of the lake. I launched the boat, and the owner drove my truck back to the marina, as I drove the boat across the lake. I thought I had a good idea of where the marina was on the lake, from my lookup on google maps. Unfortunately, the map had it wrong, so I ended up taking the wrong cut from the main lake, and driving my boat around for about an hour looking for the marina!

The lake is mostly undeveloped, because half of the shoreline is within the boundaries of a boy-scout camp. From lakeside, there is not much to differentiate one cove from another, if you are not familiar with the landscape.

Luckily, I found a guy fishing from a boat dock, who gave me directions back to the marina. When I got back to the marina, the owner was getting his boat ready to come out and find me! I think he suspected that I stopped to fish along the way, but I promised him that I had not! I did see several schools of white bass chasing shad, and it got me pretty excited. I have to admit that I did consider stopping to fish, but I did not want anyone to worry. It was mid afternoon on Thursday, and about 100 degrees anyways. I was pretty tired from the 5 hour drive to get there, so I decided to take a small siesta and go back out just before sun-set.

In the evening, as it cooled off, I trolled around the cove, and managed to catch about 15 white-bass (which the locals call 'Sandies') by casting a shad-like crankbait around a secondary point, and between boat docks. I love catching those little whites, because they sure put up a fight! I did catch one small 2 pound largemouth between a couple of docks, but the pattern that was emerging for the white bass was rocky areas that divided wind and water current.

After a restless sleep, I got up early on Friday morning, and set off to explore the rest of the cove. The wind was blowing pretty hard at the mouth of the cove, but I managed to catch 8 more whites, a few of which were pretty decent size. I tried variations on the crank bait I was using, including a lipped version that dives to about 4-5 feet. I noticed that they were hitting the lipped version much more readily. I wasted a lot of time exploring the backs of the coves, but I found that most of the action was near the mouth of the coves where the wind and current were stronger. I went back to the dock at mid-morning, and chatted with one of the locals. He told me that there was a rocky shoal on the north side of the main lake that was normally underwater, but was about 2 feet out of the water since the lake was down. He had heard that they were catching a bunch of whites around that structure, so I decided to check it out in the afternoon.

When I went back out in the afternoon, I had to fight some waves, because the wind was blowing about 20 mph. I saw the island the guy was talking about, so I got up-wind of it, and used my drift-sock to slow down my drift, as I cast around the east side of the island. I caught a fish on every cast, and these were a different class of fish! I was catching a few whites, but mostly hybrid white-bass/stripers (or wipers), that were averaging around 2-3 lbs. I even caught a couple of decent 3 lb black bass, as I repeated this maneuver a few times.

As I was doing this, I noticed a guy with two passengers struggling to start his motor, and he was stranded on the little island. It looked like he drove over some rocks, and knocked out his lower-unit. I knew from the wind that it was quickly becoming a dangerous situation, and the guy wasn't likely to make it back using his trolling motor. I decided to do the right thing, and offered to tow him back to the marina. The fishing was good, so I was definitely torn, but I figured a little karma in my corner wouldn't hurt. The guy seemed grateful of my offer, and I towed him back to the marina. This took about an hour, so I lost some precious fishing time, but when I got back to the fishing hole I caught about 30 fish in the next hour. Those wipers are addictive! I noticed that there were several boaters nearby that were 'working the birds'. The birds were in a frenzy, and I know from experience that this means a large school of stripers or wipers were in the area. I decided that I would try chasing the birds before I went back to the dock. I would position my boat up-wind from the pack, set out my drift-sock and drift through the school while casting a 1/2 oz Lucky Craft lipless crankbait that looks like a shad. All of the other fishermen were jigging slabs while I cast and retrieved. I was catching fish on about every other cast, but I did not see any of them land a fish. These fish were considerably larger than the ones I caught off of the rocky shoal.

I normally catch and release, but the past several times I have gone camping with my wife, she brings the fish-fry, and I get skunked. This time, I had to break the curse, so I kept enough fish for dinner. I called ahead, so my wife prepared the frying pan and the batter, and I cleaned the fish. We fried the fish up immediately after cleaning them -- it doesn't get any fresher than that. That was some good tasting fish. I believe white-bass are the best tasting fresh water fish (besides maybe rainbow trout) that you can find. The meat is white, and tender, and the flavor is slightly sweet. The fish is easy to filet, and the filets are small so they cook up quickly. The filets are perfect size for eating - you can eat them like potato chips. They are also the perfect size for a sandwich; two filets cover a slice of bread perfectly. There were no left-overs, believe me.

Sunday morning, I slept late so I didn't get out on the lake until about 10:00 am. The wind was calm, so I decided to explore the lake more thoroughly. I felt that I had perfected the white-bass and wiper technique, so I went out in search of some large-mouth bass. My GPS showed an island toward the southern part of the lake, called 'Horse Island'. I decided to start there, and see what I could turn up. There was a very lite wind blowing out of the North East. As I worked my way around the island, starting from the North East side (which was rocky, but about 12 feet deep at the shoreline), at first I didn't have any luck. As I rounded the corner to the North side, I started picking up more sandies. When I rounded the corner to the shallower west side of the island, I picked up about 5 more. I caught another 10 on the South side of the island. As I completed my circuit around to the East side, the bite tapered off quickly. Although I did not catch any black bass here, a pattern started to emerge with the whites. They seemed to prefer the shallow, protected side of the island.

There was another island about 100 yards away, so I motored over to see what I could do. On this island, I only caught a couple of white bass, but I managed to hook a huge largemouth, that threw the hook after a brief but intense fight. The fish flashed up to the surface, and I could see from the boat that it had a very prominent black stripe, that was about 1.5 inches wide! I estimated the fish to be around 8-10 lbs! I must have cast back to the same area 50 times, but could not get a follow-up strike. Excited, and dismayed at the same time, I moved on.

The water on the North East side of this island was about 4-5 feet deep, and there were several large submerged rocks about 10 yards off-shore. By the time I had rounded the North East corner, I had caught 4 more decent black bass, all between 3 and 5 lbs! I studied the situation, and figured out the pattern. I then set off to find other areas of the lake that matched the same features.

The next spot I found was the Southern shoreline that was directly South of the islands I just came from. There was a line of submerged large rocks in about 3-4 feet of water, all about 50 yards off shore. I drifted down the line of rocks, casting a lipless crankbait while keeping my rod-tip high to avoid getting snagged. I easily caught 4 more largemouth of about the same size, and one very nice little rock bass that was about 2 lbs. I had never caught a rock-bass before. It was very dark in color, with a blue belly. A very pretty fish, indeed.

I motored over to the South Eastern shore of the main lake, where there was a lot of shoreline rocks. I caught a few sandies here. The water was clear, and I saw several large bass in pairs on the rocks. They looked and acted like they were spawning, because I wiggled everything in my tackle box in front of them, but could not get a bite. It is interesting how bass can behave very differently in different parts of the same lake. The water was between 69 and 71 degrees, and the air was about 100 degrees, so it seemed a little late in the season for spawning behavior - but that is exactly what was going on here.

By this time, It was about 3 in the afternoon, and the Sun was broiling. Even under two coats of SPF-45, I thought I was going to cook alive. I have learned that when fishing stops being fun, its time to call it quits for the day. Actually, by this time in my trip, I had caught well over 100 fish in three days, so I decided that I was done. I headed back to the dock, and chilled out watching the sun-set from my cabin porch. We left early the following morning, to come home.

All-in-all the vacation was a huge success. I am really pumped up for the Spring season, and I can't wait to get back out on my home lakes. Next month, I will be deep-sea fishing near Freeport, and fishing for red-fish and specs at Lake Calcasieu. You can be sure, I will 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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