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Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Midwinter fishing in North Texas

Just spent 5 days visiting Ari and my in laws in Dallas. Was keeping an eye on the cold conditions they had, and it didn't look very good 7-10 days before my trip. Below normal temps had most lake and ponds in the area covered in a thin sheet of ice, and the ground temp was minus 8 a few days before I was scheduled to land.

Thankfully, a sunny warm front moved in the day I was scheduled to arrive. Ground temperature was 15 degrees when I landed, and had warmed up to 20 by the time I got to my destination, and picked up my Texas fishing license and gear.

After having done some research on the Texas fishing forum which I'm a member of, I decided to spend Thursday and Friday targeting carp and bass, then Sunday and Monday targeting smallmouth buffalo, or "buffs" as the locals like to call them.

Only had to hours to spare on Thursday afternoon, tried out a small creek dammed off into a park lake, named exall lake. The lake is located in Highland park, less than 2 miles from where I was staying.

As Texas allows multiple rod use, I rigged 1 rod for carp, and cast a variety of spinnerbaits and crankbaits for bass. No bass or carp in sight, I eventually rigged my second rod for carp as well, using corn on one and my new licorice spice boilie on the other. No luck whatsoever, no fish in sight, but felt very nice to spend some time in the sun, despite the water temp being slightly over freezing. Headed out to meet Ari after 2 hours on the bank.

Got up bright and early on Friday, plan was to fish another area in Carrolton where we did quite well around the same time last year, both for carp and bass.Ari had warned me that the water level dropped a lot there, but being my stubborn self, I didn't pay much attention. Sure enough, the flood control pond was nearly empty, don't think there was any given spot with more than 2 feet of water.

Noticed a massive fish kill, dead shad all along the shorelines. To make matters worse, I later found out that bowfishermen had gone there during the fall when the water was falling and the fish were trapped. They massacred all the alligator and longnose gar, and probably most of the carp as well, leaving a massive rotting mess along the shores. Don't see what the pleasure is in destroying a bunch of vulnerable fish for no good reason, probably a lack of manhood that prompts them to take there frustration out on some helpless, stranded fish.

After fishing there uselessly for a couple hours, I headed back to Dallas to pick Ari up again. On our way back towards Highland park, we stopped at a small creek in Dallas, where we had had some success in the past. If the fish were on, it would be easy to land them, though there isn't much size to most of the carp in the creek. We only had 45 minutes to fish it, so we started off using corn. Impossible to get any distance casting due to overhanging/crisscrossing tree limbs, and very little bank space to fish, so one has to be lucky to draw them in, in am extremely short period of time.

Took 20 minutes to get our first run, Ari landed a small 5-6 lbs carp, his first of 2014.

I landed my first carp of the year about 10 minutes later, probably in the 4 lbs range. Likely one of my smallest ever, but I wasn't complaining, given the conditions.

Had to take off shortly after, so we called it a day.

Sunday was my next day to fish. Choice was to fish one of 2 reservoirs for buffs, or to try an easier venure, namely the Trinity River running through Fort Worth. Ari picked the Trinity, so off we headed. Despite the warm daytime outer temps, the water was still extremely cold, and very stained. Tried fishing 2 rods for buffs and one for bass, again, nothing doing. Forth Worth isn't exactly Dallas, and it isn't nicknamed "cowtown" for nothing. Cowboy and his woman joined to joggers and mountain bikers making their rounds.

I enjoyed some time on the bank in my T-shirt.

Ari was getting bored in a hurry, I thought he'd be more patient. He couldn't take it any more after 3 hours of nothing, and was anxious to get back to Dallas. I finally agreed to his endless whining, and we headed back to Exall lake, hoping that the slight rise in water temp would improve the fishing conditions.

Unfortunately, they didn't. Fished there for 2 more hours, nothing doing. So we called it an early day, and headed out for dinner.

Monday was my last day to fish. I was fishing alone, so I decided to hit a big reservoir South east of Dallas, Lake Ray Hubbard. Unfortunately for me, the weather site I checked didn't mention anything about wind speed (Bing sucks!), got to the lake with a good 50km/h + wind blowing directly at me. To make matters worse, the lake level is a good 8 feet down, which made for huge whitecaps on the sand flat in front of me. To give you and idea, I was next to a boat ramp in the town of Heath, water should normally be up close to the top of the wall I was on, ramp is currently unusable do to low water.

Despite the 1/2 hour drive, I made there, I knew that it would be useless to try to fish there. Precision chumming would by virtually impossible, and buffs have a very subtle take (unlike carp runs), so would be nearly impossible to detect potential takes.

I packed it up and headed North to the town of McKinney, off to a small town lake fed by Wilson creek. Last time I fished there was about 15 years ago, and I remember seeing carp there at the time. Was hoping that they grew a bit. Got to my destination, again the lake was extremely low, and very cold. To make matters worse, there were kids throwing things in the water everywhere, and people feeding huge flocks of ducks, geese and gulls. That's what I get for fishing on a national holiday, I believe it was president's day.

Couldn't take the crowded conditions for long, left after less than 2 hours, and headed back to Dallas. Had 3 hours to kill before meeting Ari again, so headed back to the creek where we caught some on Friday. To my surprise, the water level had gone up a couple feet, current was stronger, and the water extremely stained, full of floating debris.

Decided to set up one line with boilies and the other with corn. Boilie line to 45 minutes to get hit, landed my first carp on my new licorice spice boilies.

Again, nothing too big, probably in the 4-5 lbs range, but I was very glad the flavor and scent outdid the corn, especially as the area hasn't probably been introduced to boilies ever since I tried some there 3 years ago.

Eventually switched my second line to boilies as well, and caught a decent 8.5 lbs carp, which proved to be my biggest and last of the trip. Caught it on a small bass rod and 20 series reel spooled with light line, made the fight all the more exciting. Autoshoot on my camera is horrible, will need to get something more functional soon.

All in all, a very nice few days in the sun, outer daytime temps between 20 and 25 degrees. Can't think of a better way to break up winter than heading South to fish in a T shirt.

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