Two hours fishing at a premier Texas lake nets white bass and more

Posted Saturday, Jul. 06, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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Bob Holmes had something up his sleeve, but it was the cast net in his hand that would keep Luke Clayton and me pondering just what such an expert artificial-lure fisherman like Holmes had planned for our fishing trip on Richland-Chambers Reservoir.

After all, we had fished with Holmes on numerous occasions and had caught hundreds of white bass with him while using only artificial lures such as slabs and Sassy Shad jigs.

While standing in his boat that was still parked in the water at the Oak Cove Marina boat ramp, Holmes struck paydirt at 7 a.m. on his third throw with the cast net. He quickly dumped approximately 75 threadfin shad from the net into a bucket and then backed his boat off its trailer.

“We should catch our [25-fish] limits of white bass on Sassy Shad jigs and maybe a few hybrids, but we will have some fun with these shad, too,” Holmes said as he transferred the shad into a plastic bag and placed them into an ice chest.

Clayton and I would soon learn that the “fun” Holmes had in mind had nothing to do with the white bass, hybrid striped bass or threadfin shad.

Just southeast of Corsicana, the 41,356-acre reservoir impounded in 1987 has become one of Texas’ premier lakes for white bass, hybrid striped bass and channel catfish. Its largest white bass to date weighed 3.89 pounds and its record hybrid striper topped the scales at 18.07 pounds. It has also produced a 10.11-pound channel catfish.

After motoring about a half-mile from Oak Cove Marina, Holmes pulled a pair of binoculars and scanned the area around a long point for signs of surfacing white bass. Holmes had caught numerous white bass near the point in the past few days, but he knew the schools of fish feed in the same area only as long as the baitfish are there. Once he was convinced the white bass were not there, he began moving the boat toward a large underwater “island” several hundred yards away.

As soon as he slowed the boat, white bass began popping at the surface around the edge of the underwater structure. It was as if someone were throwing rocks into the lake, splashing water into the air as each hit the surface.

Holmes was already prepared for the action. Several rods were rigged with chartreuse-colored Sassy Shad jigs. The soft-plastic, minnow-shaped Sassy Shads rigged on lead-head jigs are ideal for long casts and imitating shad, which are are the main food source for white bass and hybrid stripers.

White bass are in the lake naturally and reproduce on their own. Hatchery-produced hybrid striped bass are stocked by the Parks and Wildlife Department.

As soon as we began casting Sassy Shad jigs toward the surfacing white bass, Clayton hooked into one measuring about 15 inches. That catch signaled the beginning of repeated strikes on all three rods for the next 45 minutes. Although it was the white bass that provided the majority of action, hybrid striped bass weighing from 4 to 5 pounds soon added to the action.

Once we had placed almost 50 white bass and a few hybrids in Holmes’ ice chest, Holmes suggested we lay our Sassy Shad jigs aside and bait three rods rigged Carolina-style with the threadfin shad.

“A lot of people get into white bass and maybe a few hybrids like this and don’t realize other fish such as channel catfish also are there for the same reason — to feed on the schools of shad,” Holmes said. “Just cast the shad out toward the surfacing white bass, let the bait fall to the bottom and wait for a strike.”

Holmes’ Carolina rig involved an egg sinker positioned on a leader about 14 inches above a circle hook. It is a great rig for using live or dead bait to catch any fish that dine regularly on threadfin, minnows or gizzard shad.

Within minutes, we were in action again, only this time with channel catfish. The first channel cat to be caught on the dead threadfin shad weighed around 2 pounds. Next came one weighing about 3 pounds and the sizes of those two fish became the norm for 15 channel catfish we caught within about 20 minutes before calling it quits.

By 9:30 a.m., we were heading back to Oak Cove Marina to clean and bag the fish.

“It just doesn’t get much better than this,” Clayton said. “We have a lot of other great fishing lakes in Texas, but to catch this many fish in just two hours and then leave them still biting is awesome.”

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