Outdoors with Luke Clayton and friends
Catching catfish at Lake Tawakoni is usually not a problem for savvy anglers, especially in the summertime. This is when eater-size channel catfish are attracted to holes baited with soured grain like hogs to a trough but catching them in comfort this time of the year can be a challenge. I don’t need to remind any of you how hot it gets fishing from a stationary boat with the sun beaming down!
Through the years, I have spent many hours catfishing during the summer months, tied up to a dead tree or on anchor in deep water with only a wide brimmed hat and sun screen for protection from the sun. During our trip last week, Hanson and I enjoyed catching limits of good eating “channels” from the comfort of deep shade.
Hanson has a motto, “fish smart, not hard” and after a couple decades of guiding clients strictly for catfish, he has figured out exactly how to do just that! We fished under the new Two Mile Bridge that spans an arm of Tawakoni. The long span of concrete obviously provides plenty of shade from one end of the bridge to the other and the many bridge columns attract everything from baitfish to game fish that move in for the easy pickings. I did a rough calculation and found that the new bridge provides about ten acres of shade! What more could a summer angler wish for? Lots of catfish? Not a problem, on our outing they began biting the instant we dropped our punch bait into the water and continued until we caught our limit.
“When the new bridge opened recently, I noticed the much wider roadway provided a lot of shade.” says Hanson. “I knew my clients would enjoy the comfortable fishing but I first needed to make sure we could consistently catch catfish. I decided to chum a spot with soured grain and range cubes and do a little test fishing.”
Hanson says he has never had to move from the first spot he baited. “I didn’t have to wait long to learn that this bridge fishing was going to be a winning deal. That first day, I chummed with a bucket of soured grain and “doctored” the spot up with a few gallons of cattle range cubes. We immediately began catching fish. A friend and I enjoyed some fast-paced action that first trip. I bait the spot on an almost daily basis and can truly say that the fishing here is as good as I’ve seen it for catching 1.5 to 3 pound channel catfish. In past years, catching limits of channels during the summer is the rule rather than the exception but now we can do it in comfort. It’s a fishing trip that the entire family can enjoy.”
Even when fishing a pattern as simple as the one Hanson uses, technique and finesse often equate to a big pile of catfish fillets. During a lifetime of fishing for channel catfish, I have caught the vast majority of them within 3 feet of bottom, more often within a foot of bottom. Not the case on this trip. From past habit more than anything, I began dropping my #6 treble hook baited with punch bait down to within six inches of bottom. I would occasionally see slack in my line as fish suspended in the oxygen rich water 10 or 12 feet up from bottom went down to pick up the bait and then quickly return to their comfort zone. Hanson advised about 6 to 8 cranks of the reel handle up from bottom. BINGO! I started catching fish immediately.
“For reasons known only to the catfish, they are varying their depth, often on a day to day basis. Sometimes we do catch them close to bottom but very often they are suspending. That’s why it’s import to do some experimenting and find their comfort zone.” added Hanson.
In a recent telephone visit with Hanson before writing this column, he informed me that on his last trip, the bait needed to be laying right on bottom. “I rig with a weight about 6 inches above the hook and we enjoyed the best bite by dropping the weight to bottom and letting it lay. The bite is not as easy to detect using this method but when the line twitched a bit or the rod tip bounced, there would be a catfish on the line.”
This is obviously not a “secret” hotspot. The bridge is long and shade plentiful but anglers should use courtesy and respect when choosing a spot to fish. On the day Hanson and I fished, another boat pulled up within about 25 yards and began fishing. WAY, WAY too close. With 2 miles of bridge from which to choose a fishing spot, there is absolutely no reason for packing in close to another angler. Just find uncrowded water about 30 foot deep, chum heavily with soured grain or range cubes, get your bait in the water, vary your depth until you find the fish and… hang on! Securing the boat, bow and stern to the columns can be a challenge, especially with the large diameter concrete columns. A jug tied on a rope and allowed to drive past the column works pretty well. Just have another light rope to snag the jug as it passes around the column.
Or do as I did and make it easy on yourself and plan a trip with Hanson. His number is 903-268-7391.
Texas Trophy Hunters Shows coming up
The Texas Trophy Hunters Show in Ft. Worth will change locations this year from the Will Rogers Coliseum to the Fort Worth Convention Center. Dates for the Fort Worth Show is Aug. 5-7. The next show in line up will be in Houston Aug. 12-14 at the NRG Center. The San Antonio show is slated for Aug 19-21 at Freeman Coliseum. These shows have become a tradition for many Texas outdoors folks. I have been attending the Fort Worth show for many years and eagerly await joining some buddies there and perusing the many isles. The show has become a homecoming of sorts for many of us. For more information on the shows, check out the new web site www.ttha.com.