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Friday, February 27, 2015

Fishing blue cats in North Texas

Over the past few years, I've visited Dallas during the month of February for a few days. Though not exceedingly hot, a bit of sunshine with temps warm enough to wear a light sweater or t shirt are a great way to break up our long winters. As I have family in Dallas and quite some airline points in reserve, the trips typically don't cost me much besides for my rental car and whatever I decide to spend on fishing.

This year, the target species we big blue catfish, which are prevalent in many of the reservoirs in North Texas. After doing some research, I decided on Lake Tawakoni, probably the best and most fished lake in Texas when it comes to trophy sized blue cats. Booked 2 days of guided outings, and figured I'd chase some carp and possibly buffs on the third day. As Ari is on spring break, I brought him along as well.

Unfortunately, the weather did not co-operate. We landed on Sunday in heavy rain and quickly cooling temps. By early Monday morning, we were in the midst of an ice storm. As Texas doesn't have much infrastructure to deal with ice storms, everything simply shuts down until the ice thaws out. Our guide cancelled the planned Monday outing due to the bad weather.By Monday afternoon, Ari was itching to get out, so we with a new spot on the Trinity River in Dallas for carp or buffs. With sub zero temperature and ice built up along the banks, I wasn't expecting much, but at least we got out a bit.

As nothing was biting for a couple hours, we hit another spot where we've caught some winter carp in the past. Unfortunately, the water was to high and current was quite strong. We couldn't get to our fishing spot, but tried further upstream. No success for an hour or so, we headed home.

By Tuesday morning, most of the roads were driveable to to the traffic getting rid of most of the ice. The boat ramps were another story, as they were still covered in ice. As the ramp on Lake Tawakoni was too steep, our guide brought us to Lake Lavon instead, which is nearby. It contains some mid size blue cats up to about 50 lbs, with a few exceeding 60 lbs. Not nearly the number of trophies we could get on Tawakoni, but better than nothing for the lack of better options.

We got a late start to the day, our guide "Tex" got us onto the first spot close to 11:00 AM. He secured the boat by pulling us tight between 2 anchors, the proceeded to setup up the whopping 16 rods we were fishing with (8 rods of stern and 8 of bow). Lines were baited with chunks of cut shad, and fished on 7 foot rods mounted with Abu Garcia C3 clicker reels, much like using a baitrunner reel on a spinning rod.

Action started immediately, Ari landed his first blue cat ever:

Nothing big,but a good start. We took turns catching the cats, with Ari landing the better ones throughout the afternoon.

I landed my share of smaller ones, and we had some double headers as well:

All in all, a decent afternoon of fishing, felt nice to be out on open water despite needing our winter clothes to stay warm.

Tex was booked for Wednesday morning on the same lake, and had offered us another afternoon outing when our Monday plans fell through. We met up shortly afternoon. His morning customers had better success early on in the rain/sleet and snow. By the time we got there, the weather was warming quickly, and the sun came out for the afternoon. About as close to spring as I'm going to get for the next couple months, felt nice being able to fish in a sweater again.

Action was slower than the previous day, but the average sizes were bigger. Ari landed the 2 biggest cats at 32.5 and 33 lbs, while I caught them up to 18 lbs towards the end of the outing when the temperature started dropping again.

Overall, another productive day on the water, with Ari earning his bragging rights after landing the big ones. Definitely plan to return next winter, hoping to finally get out on a lake with some giant blue cats, and possibly down to Austin to take a shot at landing a big buff as well.

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