BULLETIN: As we have been posting all summer, Sept 1, 2016 we will go up on our guide rates from $250 to $300 for a half day (4.5 hours) and from $350 to $400 for a full 8 hour day. This is our first rate change in 9 years and most guides have been at this rate and higher for several years. I am so appreciative to our clients for their business with many fishing with us for 15 years or more. You can still lock in at our lower rates if you do so prior to September 1st(Thursday)even if you book for next year.
Hello, anglers and outdoor addicts. If you are a regular reader of this column you know I’ve been pining for the fall season with cooler temperatures. It looks like by the Labor Day weekend we might get some minor relief with highs in mid to upper 80s and late next week long term forecasts are calling for night time lows in mid to upper 60s. Now we are getting somewhere. Weather this weekend also looks good for the last holiday weekend of summer.
LAKE CONDITIONS: Water temps have fallen slightly from upper 80s to 85-86 and should continue to slowly fall over the next several weeks. One generator is running 24/7 at the dam and no flood gates are open at the spillway with lake level at 170.15’. North Toledo is slightly stained, mid-lake is mostly clear with south Toledo very clear. All the major feeder creeks have stained conditions in the upper portions of the creeks due to rains and generating which pulls water from back of creeks.
FISHING REPORTS/BASS: With water temps still in the mid-80s, we are fishing basically summer patterns even though we are seeing some evidence of bait migrating to the upper portions of creeks. This migration of shad up feeder creeks is normal for late August/early September and is an early reminder that fall is waiting in the wings. Speaking of wings, duck hunters are anxious for teal season to begin. I have seen a few teal on Toledo recently but will see more in the coming weeks as they migrate south. One “extra” that I receive as a guide being on the lake all year is to observe the changing of the seasons and how it affects fish, wildlife and forests. God’s creation is a pretty neat deal.
We continue to catch fish on both shallow and deep patterns. The shallow bite has remained strong all summer and some of our best fish this summer have come from water 6 feet or less. Another pattern that’s working for us is a drop shot in 8 to 12’ along the edge of a ridge close to a drop-off . We are burying the hook in the worm (like a Texas rig) instead of nose-hooking the worm. This allows us to cast the rig and cover more water plus we can use heavier line, larger hooks and baitcast reels.
We also are catching fish on conventional drop shot rigs with light line, #1 hooks and spinning tackle nose-hooking the worm and fishing vertical in depths of 18-30 feet. Out baits of choice on our drop shot rigs are Berkley Havoc Bottom Hoppers (6.25 inches) on the heavier version and Bottom Hopper Jrs. (4.75 inches) on lighter rigs. Shady watermelon candy and red bug are our best colors.
Another go to pattern is a Texas rig using a light sinker (1/8 to ¼ oz) and 3/0 Daiichi Offset hook with line from 12 to 17 lb. test Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon. The light line (12 lb.) tends to get more bites when fish are not active.
Our favorite baits on a Texas rig include Bottom Hopper and Trick Worms. We are using this in shallow grass (2-8 ft) as well as on main lake ridges and drop offs from 12 to 25 feet. We also use a bigger Texas rig with a 4/0 Daiichi offset hook, 17 lb test , ¼ oz sinker and Berkley 10 inch Power Worm in green pumpkin and redbug. We use this rig in both shallow grass (2-8 ft.) plus 12 to 25 ft. on breaks (drop offs).
We continue to catch schooling fish and for whatever reason there has been more schooling activity this summer than normal. We are using both poppers and walkers and some baits work for both including Sebile’s new Flat Belly Walker which comes in two sizes. I catch bigger fish on the larger bait but more fish on smaller version.
Another favorite topwater is a Gunfish by Lucky Craft which throws for good distance especially since it is not a heavy lure. Any schooling bait needs to cast for good distance and the Flat Belly Walker and Gunfish both do that very well. Line choice is also a factor in casting distance and I use Big Game mono in 12 or 15 lb. test as its high quality, very economical and works great for long casts. We are finding most of our better schools close to major creeks, near large ditches, road beds and in standing timber where they can suspend and ambush the shad schools.
CRAPPIE/WHITE BASS/YELLOW BASS: The white bass have been plentiful most of the summer but the last week or two we have caught very few. Also, the whites have been huge but they have left my areas. They should show back up as the shad migrate. Yellow bass have been hard to find all summer but they are showing up the last week or two with schooling largemouth. Crappie guide, Jack Adams, is still catching some nice fish but the numbers are not as good as they were several weeks ago. However, Adams expects the bite will improve in a couple of weeks as the water cools. They are fishing live shiners in 22 to 26 feet.
AUTHOR INFO: Joe Joslin is a syndicated outdoor columnist, TPWD Licensed guide since 1998, tournament angler and pro guide on Toledo and Sam Rayburn. 337-463-3848 or firstname.lastname@example.org and website at http://www.joejoslinoutdoors.com.