WILL KIRKPATRICK

FISHING REPORT

SAM RAYBURN RESERVOIR

21815 FM 705

Broaddus, TX. 75929

Telephone: 409-584-3177

Or just drop me a line at willfish@consolidated.net

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SUMMER’S COMING!!
  
With the mild winter we’ve had and slightly below normal rainfall,  2017 is seeing different  fishing  conditions here on Sam Rayburn. In 2011 we were about thirteen feet below our normal pool with a majority of our boat ramps unusable. The only bright spot was our Lower Neches River Authority (LNVA) brought in a huge track hoe and opened up several of our ramps on the south end including Five Fingers (Bayou Recreation Area).
 
Both 2015 (10 ft. +) and 2016 (6 ft.) saw water levels reaching into the woods behind both our Reservoir ‘s Torpedo Grass and Button Willows. Both of these items have been given misnomer’s with Hay grass because I’m assuming it was imported for use as cattle forage since it will grow in wet soil. The foliage on Button Willows is devoured by our browsing Whitetails, hence Buck Brush.
 
Both of these items started out in small patches and over the years have grown to the point of restricting angler access to our Reservoir’s shoreline. We were told that Button Willow bushes would reach heights of 3 to 5 feet but we are seeing some over 12 feet and still growing. It has a couple of distinguishing attributes in that it curtails shoreline erosion and gives our Largemouth Bass protected spawning habitat. This is in addition to providing tremendous cover and protection to newly spawned bass fry. This woody cover is also used by our Threadfin Shad to deposit their gummy egg masses When fully hatched these Shad provide the required forage for our Bass fry to continue developing. It’s surprising how this all comes together if we will just leave Mother Nature alone and just protect what “She” gives us.
 
Our bass both Spotted and Largemouth are winding down their annual Spawn with many laying a second and even third mass of eggs. David Campbell who was our original Share A Lunker program’s Director told me they has one Lunker lay five and possibly six separate egg masses with her first being the largest but those following were definitely egg spawns.
 
Most of us have had a similar problem over the years trying to catch post spawn bass. I believe our biggest hindrance is  we keep using our larger sized lures that have been producing throughout the fall, winter and early spring. But when these massive schools of newly hatched Threadfin Shad become our basses main forage their chosen forage size is reduced from three to five inches to those thousands of little one to one-half inch newly hatched shad.
 
Many years ago we found that using a spinning outfit to fish our smaller artificials would produce quality bass during this annual Post Spawn Period. I use two 6 foot G. Loomis IMX rods, one a SJR 721 which handles 1/16 to 5/16 oz. lures.  On this I have a Shimano Sustain 1000 spooled with Moss Green 8 lb. test Power Pro braid. This outfit works well with Bombers one-quarter ounce Square “A” plus Rebel Lures makes an entire array of smaller baits including what I call Critter lures. Shad Imitators include their Teeny Wake-R, Super Teeny Wee-R and original Rebel minnow in Model F49, all of which are shallow divers. There are also several topwater baits that fill the ticket and are exact replicas of their big brothers that we use throughout the year. One is Heddon’s ZARA Puppy at 1/4 ounce and is a killer in Bone or Clear fished over hydrilla. A second Heddon bait is their 1/8 ounce Teeny Torpedo in clear or Black Shiner which is Black back and Silver belly.
 
By using braided line we basically get rid of the line twist which many time troubles anglers using spinning reels. One thing needed is a monofilament or fluorocarbon leader (tippet) spliced on to your braid for which I use a Blood/Barrell knot. A drawback to using Fluorocarbon is it sinks which doesn’t work well when using topwater lures. An inexpensive remedy is to buy an extra spool  for your reel and use regular mono. I have extra spools for all three of my spinning reels with the Model 1000 spool costing less than $50.00. The Container store in Houston has clear plastic boxes that are 2” X 2” X 2.5” and make ideal storage boxes for spare spools in my boat.
 
My second small lure setup is a G. Loomis model SJR 722 which works better with small jigs, soft plastics, little spinnerbaits and buzz baits. I’ve mounted a Shimano Sustain 2500 spooled with Power Pro 10 lb. test braid in HiVis Yellow, which allows easy line watching,  with a fluorocarbon tippet.
 
Yum Lure Company makes several small soft plastics with their 2.5” Money Minnow in Pearl, Pearl/Black back or Tennessee Shad being top choices in both color and its silhouette. One of the best rigging is one of Owner Hook Company’s 1/8 ounce Flashing Swimmer rig with a 1/0 hook. A second way to rig these small Money Minnows is to use an Owner light wire screwlock 1/0 hook and crimp a #7 Clam Shell sinker just in front of the hook’s bend. Either one of these riggings will catch bass all over the country but works especially good where we’ve got hydrilla and grass edges next to deep water and nearby woody cover drawing Threadfin Shad to spawn.
 
BooYah Lure Company has a little 1/8 ounce single Colorado blade spinnerbait named Micro Pond Magic that isn’t just for ponds. They also make a 1/8 ounce buzz bait that takes these post spawn bass in addition to working  any time we’ve got Shad above the grass.  Both of those lures can be dressed using a small white 1.5 inch sickle tailed Grub that provides a little extra wiggle.
 
 
One of our top soft plastics for many years has been YUM’s 5 inch Dinger rigged either Texas style or Wacky. Yum also makes this Dinger in a three inch model that is dense enough to cast on your 722 without a weight. By using one of these in Pearl Silver Flake rigged weightless with a 1/0 screwlock hook and retrieving it with short gentle twitches, you can imitate a crippled or fleeing Shad. With all the bass carry over we had in 2015 there are lots of small bass which are fun to catch and if we will be careful in handling them for release they will be 2 pounds next year.
 
These same three inch Yum Dingers rigged Texas Style using a 1/8 ounce screwlock sinker and a straight shank wide gap 2/0 hook, are also the ticket for clear heavily fished water, especially on weekends.
 
For the last several weeks the majority of our Largemouths are coming out of six to ten feet of water on the outside edge of vegetation. Our top bait has been five inch Yum Dingers in Watermelon Seed or Watermelon Pearl Laminate rigged Texas style.  Running a close second is the same Yum Dinger’s but rigged Wacky style using a new rigging setup from Hall Hooks (601-695-4588  -  www.hallhooks.com). They’ve made a ring weight that slides over Yum’s 5 inch Dinger which has 2 holes aligned to allow their 2/0 and 3/0 weedless hook to be inserted into one and out the other. This is the niftiest Wacky rig I’ve ever used around BuckBrush and other woody cover. I use a Loomis NRX 852 Jig and Worm rod which is 7 feet 1 inch and handles lures through three-eight ounce with an extra fast action. The rod’s  length allows you to cast that extra distance on large reservoirs with its action allowing an instant hook set.
 
Anglers on guide trips and in The Fishing Schools have commented on the price of these NRX rods but I’ve had mine for six years and other than cleaning the cork handles, haven’t done a thing with them.
 
In the last forty two years I’ve only owned three boats with my current Triton being a 1998 which leaves lots of extra money for equipment that catches fish.  We used to replace boats mostly because there was wood used in their construction which lead to water seepage when used as much as mine is. The only wood in my Triton are toothpicks used to peg sinkers or through worms into hook eyes. The transom, cross members, struts, decking and flooring are all made from composite materials which are impervious to moisture - won’t rot and is stronger than wood.
 
These rods and my change to Power Pro braided line accounts for, on a normal day, several extra bass due to their sensitivity and ability to set the hook.
 
Many of our post spawn bass will move out into deeper waters where they will setup for some time to recoup from the spawn.  One of the areas they utilize are the ends of nearby points which usually is the last area they staged in before spawning and will be the first area they use after they spawn.
 
Several years ago Billy Murray and I did a post spawn segment for one of his TV fishing shows. We sat near the end of a 12 foot deep point close to a spawning flat and caught 7 spawned out female bass to 4 pounds all on Texas rigged 5 inch Yum Dingers. We were casting across the point through small bunches of stumps and grass, when your Dinger fell off a stump or grass, you would have a bass.
 
Another  proven method for these post spawn staging bass is working crankbaits in 10 to 15 foot deep water off points and drains. Most of our man made reservoirs have an abundance of this type structure and with today's Electronics they are much easier to find and a cinch to mark. I have over 900 way points marked on my Lowrance HDS 10 and a large number are points, drains - ditches- gullies and any associated holding cover. Although all the Lowrance HDS units have a huge number of Icons using too many of these can be confusing. I’ve found that by using specific symbols for each item I only need about 10 to mark all my required objects.
 
I have a multitude of bait casting crankbait rods but the three rods I use most have a specific lure weight range. These rods have several things in common since I fish a large reservoir they are all 7 foot long, have moderate action, medium power to their lure weight and are G. Loomis graphite. My rod for light one quarter ounce lures is their CBR 841 and has a 5 X 1 Chronarch  with 12 pound test Silver Thread Monofilament. For three eighths to five eighths, I use a PR 844 GLX which is actually a saltwater popping rod which I bought  before Loomis came out with their Crankbait series of rods and the one I use for most crankbaits,  it also has a 5 X 1 Chronarch and fourteen pound test line. My rod for larger deep diving three-quarter ounce and above lures is a Loomis GLX 845 again with a 5 X 1 Chronarch and fourteen pound test line. This rod also works well when using Heddon’s original Zara Spook or the larger Super Spook.
 
While there  are times when a faster retrieve reel is useful, I don’t feel the majority of crankbait fishing requires speed. There is an old adage that the faster you reel, the smaller your Bass will be and that’s pretty much what I’ve found having caught bass in 15 states and Canada.
 
Today's anglers have a untold array of crankbaits available and most will catch bass at one time or another but the key is finding those that consistently catch BASS. When anglers talk about crankbaits a long, long time standby has been Bombers Model A family which consists of lures from the 2A that runs four feet to the 8A going down to twelve feet. With our most successful post spawn depths being the 8 to 12 feet range either the 7A and 8A models should find fish with Shad or Baby Bass colors drawing strikes.
 
Another Bomber lure is their Fat Free Shad family that has three suitable models from their Fat Free Fingerling running to 10 feet, the Fat Free Shad, Jr. running to 12 feet and a Fat Free Shad hitting 15+ feet. These come in three different Shad colors and have the exact silhouette of our Threadfin Shad.
 
Bandit Lures has several models that get down to the 8 feet plus range and come in multiple Shad colors. Their 300 Series cranks to 12 foot as does the Ledge 250.  Bandit also makes a Flatmaxx that hits the same range but with a “coffin” lid shaped diving bill that deflects of stumps, logs, brushpiles, etc. better than rounded bills do.
 
Spinnerbaits have been producing fish when we first start at about 6.00 - 6:30 AM but if we don't  have cloud cover that’s  over by 8 AM, Topwaters are about the same thing but this should change once the spawn settles out and get into our summer patterns.
 
With Rayburn and other nearby reservoirs being below pool, we can hope for some major rains before Summer to keep levels above a drought stage.
 
I have 2 of the Lowrance HDS-9 GEN 3 units we used in  my schools For Sale with a 2 year new unit warranty at a substantial saving.
 
GOOD FISHING !!
 
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Our 2018 Fishing Schools schedule hasn't been set up at this time.

Map & Electronics Class

For further information, I can be reached before 8:00pm at 409-584-3177


Will is the Director of "The Fishing Schools” which are held on Sam Rayburn Reservoir. He is an active member of the Texas Outdoor Writer’s Association and before resigning, he was one of twelve anglers statewide who were members of Texas Parks & Wildlife Department’s Freshwater Fisheries Advisory Board. In 2009 he was appointed by Governor Perry as one of the nine commissioned members of our state’s Advisory Panel on Recreational Boating Safety.

Our Sponsors include: Arbogast, Bandit, Bomber, Booyah, Cordell, Creek Chub, Heddon, Lindy, Norman, Rebel, Silver Thread, Smithwick, Thill,  Yum www.lurenet.com, Lowrance Electronics (www.lowrance.com), G. Loomis Rods (www.gloomis.com.

For further information on Sam Rayburn Resorvoir or The Fishing Schools, please use these links or give me a call at 409-584-3177

[ Fishing Report ]  [ Fishing Schools ]  [ Home ]

Will Kirkpatrick

21815 FM 705

Broaddus, TX. 75929

Telephone: 409-584-3177