While winter is in full command of the calendar right now, the season for big fish is starting to heat up here in North Texas.
And right on cue too as January turns into February on the calendar, not to mention the arrival of both Groundhog Day and Super Bowl Sunday this weekend.
Meaning, quite simply, that the best time of the year to catch a huge fish is now at hand. And that’s true even if the cold-water bites on area waters are few and far between right now as that furry little critter up in snowy and cold Pennsylvania looks for his shadow in the morning.
But when one of those rare wintertime bites happens here in North Texas, it could be the literal fish of a lifetime over the next few weeks, so who cares if the bites are a little bit scarce these days?
Case in point is the action for striped bass right now on Lake Texoma. Or so says the latest newsletter e-mail blast from Bill Carey of Striper Express.
“The winter months are ‘trophy months’ for fishing Lake Texoma,” writes Carey. “The stripers bite year round and fatten up in the colder months. January and February, we trophy hunt!”
That doesn’t mean that catching a big linesider on the 89,000-acre reservoir to the northwest of Denison is an easy task though.
“(The) larger stripers are rogue fish,” notes Carey in his e-mail. “They are like a big whitetail deer (bucks). They don’t run with the crowds.”
Carey says that his fishing crew runs daily routes on the big two-state pond and fish underwater structure using big Road Runner jigs.
“We tip it with a nine-inch white worm trailer,” he reports. “Hence, big baits equal big fish.”
Carey notes that fish up to 20 pounds can be caught at Texoma during the winter months. In fact, one angler recently caught a striper that weighed 25 pounds.
“We’ve caught four stripers (recently) that are 20-plus pounders and lots of 10 to 18-pounders,” Carey noted in another e-mail. “It’s time to huddle up and plan your Lake Texoma fishing adventure.
Carey isn’t the only one reporting big fish right now at Texoma since several other guides are too.
“Winter fishing has been excellent here on Lake Texoma!,” noted Adventure Texoma Outdoors guide John Blasingame in a Facebook report on Wednesday of this week.
“Serious anglers know that this is the best time of year to fish if you’re wanting to land the big ones,” he added. “You gotta dress for it but there really isn’t a better time to fish.”
With both big numbers and serious trophy quality coming in recent days, Blasingame reports that dead-sticking has been the key on his trips.
“This pattern should continue to produce good for us through the winter and into spring,” he reported.
Keep in mind that huge stripers aren’t the only big fish being caught these days here in the North Texas area.
That’s because bass angler Zach Sypert of Bedford, Texas just caught the first Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Legacy Class largemouth bass of the 2019 Toyota ShareLunker season while fishing last Saturday.
Sypert was fishing on Marine Creek Lake in Fort Worth last weekend on Jan. 26 when he landed his big ShareLunker bass. According to a TPWD news release, the 14.57-pound, 27-inch largemouth bass is actually the second 13-pound or larger Toyota ShareLunker to have been caught from the DFW Metroplex lake during the last two years.
“Marine Creek Lake is an important fishery for the Toyota ShareLunker program because we have taken several steps to give the largemouth bass in the lake the potential to grow to double digit sizes,” said Kyle Brookshear, Toyota ShareLunker Program Coordinator, in a TPWD news release.
“We stocked thousands of ShareLunker offspring in 2006 and 2008 as part of a research project to evaluate the growth of these selectively-bred offspring in public reservoirs,” he added. “Additionally, in 2006 we also changed the minimum length limit on that lake to protect these fish from harvest.”
Sypert’s big bass, ShareLunker 577 as the 14.57-pound bass is now known, was reportedly transported to the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center in Athens. TPWD reports that TFFC hatchery staff will monitor and care for the big female largemouth bass in preparation for spring spawning activities.
According to Brookshear, if genetic testing shows the fish to be one of the selectively bred bass stocked in the lake previously, it will be the second selectively-bred Toyota ShareLunker caught at the 250-acre lake in the last two years. The first was ShareLunker 566, a 13.07-pound Marine Creek Lake bass caught by angler Ryder Wicker in February 2017.
“The fact that anglers have caught two Toyota ShareLunkers from Marine Creek Lake in the last two years, and that the water body record continues to be set and beat, are great indicators that our efforts to maximize the size of bass in that lake through stocking and management efforts are working,” Brookshear said.
“Stocking selectively bred bass would not be possible without the partnership of anglers donating their double-digit fish for spawning efforts,” he added. “We are thankful for all of the anglers who have made and continue to make a difference by loaning their fish.”
A simple sharing of angling good fortune that should pay off in even more big bass dividends for North Texas anglers in the next several years to come.