Thursday, May 19, 2005

May Texas Classic Bass Club Lake Dunlap

I fished the Texas Classic Bass Club May tournament on Lake Dunlap. Official results are posted here - May 21, 2005 Results - Lake Dunlap.

I drew Rick Trussell as a partner for the tournament. Rick is new to the club and never fished on Dunlap, but that didn't hold us back from getting 2nd place. We met up early with the plan of launching at the I35 ramp and running down the lake to my first spot where I caught tournament big bass the last time the club fished on Dunlap. We got a little side tracked when I noticed a new boat dock with an underwater light installed after we launched. Sure enough there was a bass on it, I think a small mouth bass from the look of it, that was in the 3 lb range actively feeding on shad in the light. Made an on the fly decision to stay there until 6:00 AM and see if we could catch it. So after 30 minutes of watching that bass hit everything that swam near the light and waiting for 6:00AM, we started fishing for it. After two casts, one from me and one from Rick, the bass disappeared faster than a Texas snow flake. I can't explain what spooked it, but just the same, it was a phantom fish. After getting run over by another club tournament launching out of the I35 ramp we headed to my original spot. I caught an 8 inch bass, the short end of a long story. Mean while I could see Marlin across the lake catching bass up in the lilly pads in about 2 feet of water. Made a run to some other spots and came up with nada, then decided to hit the lilly pads myself. Marlin was fishing up in the pads, so I fished the outside edge of the pads since it was about lunch time now and thought the bass would be moving out into deeper water. I managed to catch a 14 inch bass on a watermelon fluke and killed a lot of time trying to find another fish. With two hours left in the tournament and boat traffic getting a bit heavier on the lake, we headed down to the stump field near the dam. There were two boats on it ahead of us that had just gotten there. Marlin and his partner were covering the lilly pads there and Tom Pursell & Jason St. Peter were on the deep ledge. I decided to go with the ledge and fish behind Tom's boat. Jason seemed to be a bass vacuum with a crank bait ahead of us catching bass on the back of Tom's boat. They picked up 4 keepers on the first pass. The group of boats grew to four or five I forget, but the fish stopped biting. Everyone left except Rick and I with about 30 minutes left in the tournament. Instead of fishing the ledge or the lilies I put us in between and fished water that wasn't really touched. Rick caught the fish below with only 25 minutes left in the tournament on a shad colored crank bait. Great stuff, it jumped several times and I did a bad job getting it in the net, but we got her in the boat in the end. :-) The best part of it was knowing we had that fish to take to weigh-in, because Jesse James had just been taunting us from the other side of the lake after landing their second keeper of the day thanks to a tip from the home owner who had come down to see if they'd caught anything.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Bridges vs Boling in I-Match

I-MatchI met Roger Boling at Black Rock park on Lake Buchanan for our I-Match tournament at 5:30AM. It was pitch dark and very windy. Forecast was 10 mph sustained winds reaching 20 mph over the course of the day with cloud cover and 10% chance of rain. Roger met me with a hand shake before I could close the door of my truck after getting out, when I pulled up to the boat launch. He's a real friendly guy that I'm sure gets along with everyone he meets. We talked about the windy conditions and he plead his case for high seas on Buch. Roger explained that he lives in Marble Falls and included the fact that he's 63 years old. Roger then went on to explain that fishing Buch in high wind is dangerous and waves on the other side of the lake were already rolling two feet high and will be even higher by days end. I knew all this already and was wondering where this was going or if he was just warning me. Then he answered the question I had asked myself. Roger asked if I'd allow him to trailer to another boat launch because he was afraid he could reach the area he wanted to fish, but might not be able to get back at the end of the day. While I could have said no, and possibly changed the results of the tournament, I agreed to allow him to trailer to a better launch site. I knew I was in trouble after I agreed and his face lit up like a little kids face looking at the gifts under a tree on Christmas morning. Roger agreed not to fish until 6:00 AM and return before the weigh-in time at 1:30. We checked lives wells and synced up times to make things official.

Roger sped away at 5:50 with a 25 minute drive ahead of him per his words. I launched and was fishing by 6:00 AM. I went with a black buzz bait as my first of many lure selections for the day. I fished the willows in 3 feet of water just outside the cove and no luck. Continued around into the next pocket fishing more willow trees in shallow water with one blow up well behind the bait. That fish had to be cross eyed, hearing impaired, or both because there had to be two feet between it and my bait. I gave it several more casts and switch lures to a horny toad with no luck. Moving on, I switched back to the buzz bait, until I found myself way back in a little pocket containing a beaver den and lots of good brush to fish that was well protected from the wind. I threw the buzz bait, a little george, and a rat-l-trap in there with not so much as a bump. I moved out onto a windy point and worked it hard only to catch a white bass off a brush pile in 12 feet of water that I found with a crank bait. That's something I'll have to keep in mind next time I fish out there. I gave up on this cove and headed out to a hump down toward the light house, it's the one marked with three buoys in a triangle. I fished it with the horny toad and had a bass hit several times only to miss in every attempt. I tried several presentations and came up dry. Switched baits and tried a rattle trap, little george, and a fluke with no action at all. I headed up into the cove and fish two long points in there with no luck. At this point it was 11:00AM and I was pretty set back by the lack of action. I thought to myself, "I bet Roger has two or three by now. I gotta do something different."

I put my boat in a spot out of the wind and ate breakfast while I thought it over. I remembered the tournament two weeks before and thought about the cove on the other side, but looking out across the lake that would have been a near suicide run to say the least. My thoughts then turned to "the wall" that Bill had showed me. That's it, I was headed to "the wall." I arrived at the wall only to discover and LCRA boat anchored on the best spot. They were installing metal posts that could be used to tie off boats. I fished it anyway and quickly picked up my first keeper on a watermelon senko. Spent another hour with nada and went back into a nearby cove and discovered what I believe would be worst mistake in the tournament. I found a small creek feeding into the side of the cove and there were bass in there still on beds and some bass protecting fry. I spent the rest of the tournament in there trying to catch a keeper and only managed to catch one near keeper and a large crappie. I saw several bass that were in the 2 lb range to my guestamation. One of the home owners came out and informed me his neighbor had caught a 10 pounder in there the week before and watched me fish for a while before going back inside. Anyway, with an hour left in the tournament I went back to "the wall" and picked up two more keepers. I caught a bass on the last cast that would not keep, but figured I'd call it a day at 1:20. The ride back wasn't that bad but I did catch some air out in front of Black Rock park. Roger was laughing when I got to the bank and said, "Buddy, I saw the bottom of your boat out there when you came around the point, was it rough?" Roger had 5 bass for 10.2 lbs, so I didn't bother to weigh the three I had, so I'll just call it 3 lbs. We shook hands and it was done. Roger said he'd caught about 8 fish all day and 6 of them were keepers, all but one caught on a white crank bait.

Day in Review:

The weather sucked, the wind blew like crazy, the fish didn't bite hardly at all. I'm not bitter, just disappointed in myself for not being able to catch fish in area's that I knew were holding them. Congratulations to Roger on the win and for catching bass in some bad conditions. Rager agreed that the fishing was really tough that day.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Testing out a new lure on Quarry Lake

I picked up a new lure at the suggestion of some of the guys in the TCBC club. The new lure is the "Horny Toad" made by Zoom. This is a nice bait to add to your tackle from my weeks worth of testing at Quarry Lake & Lake Buchanan.

Summary of fishing:

I fished in Quarry Lake which is a private lake in Austin, in the area of 183 and Braker. It's an old rock quarry with crystal clear water and a ton of bass. I figured if I could catch bass out of it on this lure then I could catch bass out of any lake around there. I caught about 10 bass the first day fishing with the toad rigged weightless Texas style. I think it floats way to much to be fished this way after fishing with it on the second day with it slightly weighted. I caught about 20 bass the second day in half the fishing time it took to catch bass on the first day. Largest fish caught in testing was 3 1/2 pounds, and I did miss a fish on the hook set because it caught me off guard and nearly yanked the rod out of my hands. I would say this was a monster bass, but never saw the fish, only felt the weight of it just before the hook came flying out of the water. I also put some time on the water at Lake Buchanan with this lure and caught a number of bass as well.


This bait is a great Frog or Crawfish imitation bait depending on how you work it. It can be reeled fast on the surface with the legs kicking for a buzz bait type presentation that will draw massive surface strikes. It can be swam below the surface like a swimming crawfish or worked slowly on the bottom. I've caught fish with it all three ways. I had the most success swimming it under the surface. Fishing with it weightless will draw strikes, but adding some weight to the lure will allow you to feel the bite better, while increasing your chances of a solid hook set. The lure has a very slow fall in the water column like a jig, so bass will hit it on the fall. While you're waiting for it to reach the targeted zone in the water column, take up all slack in the line while letting it fall or you won't feel the strike.

I've read reports that say it tears up easy, or is only good for one fish, but I'm able to catch several fish on one toad before it needs to be replaced.

Draw backs to using this lure?:

There are only five in a bag, so you could run out in a tournament if you don't stock up. A second draw back, people are catching on and buying them up. I've been to two Academy's and a Wal-Mart in the area and they were out of watermelon seed colored toads, but had other colors available. Lastly and the most important note, the lure is bulky and requires a medium heavy to heavy action rod and a hard hook set to prevent loosing fish. Basically you can't set the hook hard enough when fishing with this bait, because you gotta drive the hook through the bait and into the mouth of the fish before pulling the bait out of the mouth of the fish.