POTTSBORO — As I crossed the Red River on Highway 75 below Lake Texoma last week, the normally gently flowing stream had been transformed into a raging current by the large volume of water being released at the Eisenhower Dam.
Lake Texoma was still 13 feet above normal pool last week and high water marks on the trees and, regrettably on trailers and houses along the shore, clearly displayed water stains that indicated the water had been at least six to eight feet higher.
To say Lake Texoma and the adjacent shoreline property recently underwent a major flood is a gross understatement.
But, looking on the bright side, a few launch sites are now open and fishermen are back on the water, and as my recent trip here with guide Roger Hill proved: fishing is good!
Hill says the first couple weeks following the influx of fresh water put the stripers in high gear.
“Shad had moved shallow into flooded grass and brush and stripers were in hot pursuit,” Hill said. “We enjoyed about 10 days of the most exciting top water striper fishing action I’ve ever seen. It was awesome.”
When the water in the weeks after the rains reached its peak elevation, Hill reports striper fishing as predictably unpredictable. On some mornings, his clients have landed limits in just over two hours fishing. On other days, he has had to stay on the move looking for receptive fish. I returned just yesterday from a morning fishing with Hill and have a very “fresh” insight on striper fishing at these heralded striper waters to share with you.
My good friend and frequent companion on fishing and hunting trips, Dubb Wallace, joined me for the short trip to Texoma. Hill had set us up to stay at Paradise Cove Marina which we found to be a very well maintained and secluded campground that I enjoyed visiting very much.
Flood waters had permanently damaged some of the cabins situated closer to the water but the one we stayed in was high and dry. It was odd, though, to stand on the front porch and see water lapping the top of picnic tables a few feet out from what is now shoreline. Lake elevations are predicted to return to normal within a month. We noted the water level had dropped several inches in the two days we spent here fishing.
Roger Hill stopped by the evening before our fishing trip and repeated what he’d been telling me for several days: there is no pattern right now to the striper fishing. We might catch fish at first light on top water plugs around shoreline grass or we might have to go to 50-foot water and drop live shad beneath the boat.
I’ve fished with Roger enough to know that he has many, many, fish catching tricks and I also know his determination for finding one that would work.
As we eased out from dock at first light, there was already chop on the water and Roger ruled out the top water bite.
“Let’s go straight to Plan B and try to find a big school of stripers on the graph’” Hill said. “If we can find some fish stacked rather than flat lining on the graph and some baitfish nearby, we ought to be able to get them to bite.”
We dropped anchor and tried three or four different schools, most in water around 50 feet deep, suspended a few feet up from bottom. We could see the fish on the graph but they simply would not bite.
One trait that all good guides I have fished with share is that they will not tarry too long in one spot without positive results.
After giving each spot a 30-minute test, we moved on and found a new school of stripers. Finally, we hit the mother load!
Roger marked a big school of stripers stacked in the vertical pattern that usually indicates they are in a feeding mode. He let the anchor out well upwind of the fish and allowed the wind to bring the boat about on anchor. A glance at the graph proved we were right on top of the fish.
These fish were players. They did exactly what stripers are supposed to do when a fresh threadfin shad is dropped into their midst: they ate with reckless abandon!
It didn’t take long to boat our limit of stripers over 20 inches in length and our box fish under 20 inches. At the conclusion of the morning, Roger said our trip was one of the better days.
“We have usually been catching good numbers of fish but some days, we have to work a heck of a lot harder to catch them,” he said.
Fishing in the tailrace waters of the Red River below the spillway is excellent for stripers and catfish right now… but that’s another story!
To book a trip with guide Roger Hill, call 903-818-3474.