Slow day on LBJ

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I found out Friday that my boss will be coming to town during the 4th of July week. He recently bought a new bass boat, and I have been bragging about all of the fish I have been catching lately. He hasn't done so well in the first few times he has taken out his boat, so I offered to show him around Lake LBJ, and practically guaranteed we would catch fish. When he called me to ask if we could go fishing on July 6, I decided that it would be a good idea to do some scouting in advance of the trip. So, Jim and I went fishing on LBJ again this Saturday.

Actually, we had intended to go fishing anyways. Initially, our plan was to try Buchanan. I plugged in my battery charger on Thursday to get ready for our trip. When I plugged my charger in, there was a red light flashing on my accessory battery bank. I soon figured out that my batteries were not holding a charge. I checked, and the batteries were almost dry! I left it unplugged for the night, planning to get some distilled water on Friday, to top them off.

After work on Friday, I bought some distilled water and topped off the batteries. I had to remove them from my boat to do this; there is not much room to work in the back of my boat. Actually, only one battery needed topping off, but I had to remove both batteries to check. I used my volt meter, which registered 2.5 volts on battery and 3.5 volts on the other. Not good. I re-installed the batteries, and connected my charger. The red light stopped flashing, so I took this as a positive sign. I left them to charge all night.

On Saturday morning, I checked and the batteries were still not fully charged -- at least according to the indicator lights on top of my charger. I checked the voltages, and each battery reported 12.8 volts. I was concerned that they would not last long on the lake, but the wind wasn't blowing, so I figured that if I took it easy on the trolling motor, we could make it through the day.

We got to the boat ramp at about 6:00am. The parking lot was already full, so it was apparent that there was a fishing tournament going on. With the blue sky, no wind, and a fishing tournament, it was shaping up to be a tough day.

We fished all of my regular honey holes, and even ventured up to the north end of the lake. We only managed to catch five small bass. The ones we did catch were away from shore in ten feet or more water. I think that with a little more patience, a carolina rigged worm or grub worked across the sand bars next to deep water might do a little better. I will try that next week. Maybe a few long casts would find the fish. I could then mark the spot on my GPS map, and approach the spot from the deep side, and anchor down to work the area more thoroughly.

I saw a feature on some of the GPS systems, which allows you to follow your trail, and mark your range from a waypoint. The fishing guide on my trip to Freeport was using this feature to keep us over an offshore pile of rocks. In open water, there is nothing to keep your bearings on, so the GPS really helps. I think my Lowrance 332c will do this, so it may come in handy.

I think the problem was that there was too much fry in the water. I kept seeing small dead shad on the surface. There were schools of white bass working these areas; I'm sure all of the bass species were gorging themselves. The shad were shiny and silver colored. With the clear sky and the full moon, I bet they were eating all night long. Now that I think about it, the bass we caught had disteneded bellies. I'll bet they were full of small shad.

I don't like to fish with live bait if I can avoid it. Its not that I'm squeemish about live bait -- its just that I prefer the challenge of using artificial lures. I simply find it much more convenient. Using live bait means my hands will likely be slimy, my clothes will be fishy, and I have to do more work when I clean out the boat. I try to catch and release as a general practice; it strikes me as wrong to kill bait if I don't intend to kill the fish that I'm after. I should bring my casting net though. I could catch a net full of shad, then let them go just to see what they look like. I might find a lure in my tackle box that can approximate their shape and color.

I have a couple of small spoons that are about the same shape and size as the shad I saw on the surface. They have small treble hooks, so they tend to catch small white bass. I like catching large white bass, but they do have sharp spines, and the ridge up like a porcupine when they are excited, so they can be difficult to handle. I usually end up with a sore finger or two by the end of the day. I consider chasing white bass a diversion from my primary prey, which is the Largemouth Bass.

That being said, its good to know that white bass are in the area. It means that there is forage, and there are likely black bass close by. I bet there were some big 'ole lunker bass down deep beneath those schools of shad, leasurely feasting away. Catching them is the hard part.

After fishing the South end of the lake for most of the morning, at about 10:30am, we decided to look for tournament fishermen, to see where they were fishing. As we were motoring up to the north side of the lake, I passed a big slick, with a large school of stripers feeding at the surface. Unfortunately, I did not see this in time to slow the boat down without spooking the fish. I quickly tied on a big 1oz chrome and blue rattletrap. I can cast it a mile, and it sinks quickly enough to get down to where stripers like to feed. The water was very because of the wakes from passing boats. I wasn't getting any strikes, and there was lots of boat traffic, so after about 10 minutes, we decided to move on.

Why is it that jet skiiers feel so safe on the water? They make the stupidest moves, rarely if ever travel in a straight line, and the noise from their engines keeps them from hearing horn blasts from other boats on the water. Those jet skiis are way too fast. I had one pass my boat at over 50 mph! He was weaving and doing little stunts without looking, and was heading straight into my path. He was approaching from my port side. The rules say yeild to starboard, otherwise stay on a straight course at present speed. Of course when the rules break down, its time to take action. I blasted him about nine times with my horn, which is plenty loud, but he did not acknowledge. He probably had water-proof earphones on. I had to stop my boat to avoid a collision. He finally noticed me, and gave me this little look. I think they should be outlawed all-together. I know they are fun, but they lend themselves to stupid behavior, and are typically piloted by teenagers who think they are invincible. My house is only a couple of miles from Lake Travis. We see the life-flight helicopter heading toward the lake at least a couple of times per month.

We fished a couple of coves on the North side of the lake, but caught nothing. After a couple of hours, we headed back toward the launch point. I had been wanting to fish the jettie that goes from the power plant to the main body of the lake. The water drops off quickly on the Eastern side of the jetties to about 35 feet deep. We drifted the entire length of the Eastern side of the jetties, but caught nothing. So, that was that. I'm going to have to go back a couple of times this month, to figure out where the fish are.

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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