The fish are on the move; however, the lake dropped over a foot in a one week period and on Friday, they received over 9″ of rain which had the bass pulled back out of the buck brush and they were relating more to mainlake points, secondary points and inside and outside weedlines. The frontal and post-frontal winning pattern was a Carolina rigged pumpkin green lizard or chartreuse pepper french-fry fished anywhere from 2-10′. The majority of the fish were located 1/2 way back in the creeks and as far back as you could maneuver your boat. Some fish were holding just outside the grass in the coves and pockets with smaller creeks and/or ditches located in the back. Bill Ritzell and his partner, Allen Mittinen, won our local Port City Bass Club tournament on Toledo Bend using the above pattern and ended up with a two day combined weight of 41#. They were using CastAway Honey Carolina rods with Team Diawa TD1 reels spooled with Trilene Big Game 15# line. And, had it not been for Bill’s sponsor, Boots Follmar Marine in Houston doing some last minute repair work on his engine, Bill might not have had his boat in time to fish the tournament. Luckily, the boat was quickly repaired and he was able to go on and compete; and, win the tournament. The 2nd place team of John Montgomery and Gary Mittinen, caught their fish primarily on Rat-L-Traps fished on bends and points off the feeder creeks to wind up with a team stringer of over 34 pounds. While 3rd place team of myself and Rusty Traylor caught our fish on spinnerbaits, Carolina rigs and Rat-L-Traps. We caught most of our fish on Sunday in anywhere from 6-25′. We also found our early fish on Sunday to hit Rat-L-Traps holding in front of the grassline in a mainlake cove at about 6-8′. I had big bass of the tournament, caught on Sunday on a CastAway Honey Carolina graphite rod with a Daiwa TD2 reel spooled with 15# Big Game Trilene line with a 3-foot 10# leader and a chartreuse/pepper Riverside Floating Air Fry. Big Bass was just over 5#’s and she was holding off a mainlake island on the outside grassline in 25′. The grass was deep out off the island and grew out as far out as 18′. Due to the recent cold fronts and rains, the bigger fish were staging, getting ready to move into the creeks and were holding in front of the grasslines. They had not yet moved into the backs of the creeks to perform their annual rituals. Due to strong North West winds and frontal conditions of Saturday, they would not bite, but the high bluebird skies and light winds on Sunday found several that went to the scales. The massive fish kills of last summer on our East Texas lakes has had a dramatic effect on the fishing this spring. Both numbers of fish caught and size of fish being caught are directly affected by the fish kill. Big bass this time of year should be 8+ pounds, instead, we’re lucky to see a 5# bass being caught. There just not catching any big fish this year, and, what big fish are being caught are darn few! The results of the Texas Oilman’s tournament sponsored by Skeeter Boats and Yamaha Outboards also showed a decline over year’s past in the number of big fish coming to the scales. The predominant pattern was the Carolina rig dragging a lizard or centipede in anywhere from 2-14′ water off of mainlake and secondary points. With all the rain, cold fronts and heavy winds the pre-spawn fishing has definitely been affected and continues to be affecting these migrating fish. They don’t know whether to go in and lay their eggs or back off. If the fish don’t move in by this coming weekend with the full moon, it will be April before the spawn is in full bloom. If you haven’t had a chance to get to the lake, now’s your chance, you haven’t missed a thing and chances are, you’ll be right on target for some of the best fishing the year will offer.
– Texas Saltwater Fishing Guide