Just Around "The Bend" On North Toledo
October 21, 1999, Huxley Bay Marina, Lake Toledo Bend, TX.
With the tantalizing smell of fresh brewed coffee merging with the country fried aroma's of buttered eggs, golden hashbrowns, sizzling bacon, and homemade biscuits, surrounded by rustic walls sporting mounts of 12 point Deer, 20 lb Striper, 10 lb Bass, 4 lb Crappie, and a "2 lb Bream", intermingling with the gawfaw's and story tellin's of pre-dawn anglers, there is but one place that I can possibly be..............."Heaven".
"This is our usual mornings worth of "get readies" stated Greg Crafts, as he prepared to fork into his breakfast platter of Huxley Bay repast, "loaded" with jumbo eggs, heaping hashbrowns, crispy browned bacon, topped with a "MAN-SIZED" biscuit that took two hands to flake & butter. "These guys are all getting ready to head out for the "morning-shift", Greg informs to me as he nods his howdies to the surrounding anglers being served by Stacey Vandrovec, chief cook, waitress, and owner/operator of Huxley Bay Marina.
Greg Crafts, a fulltime fishing guide since '92, locates his expertise on the "fishin' bend" of the 98 mile long river basin that reservoirs 184,000 surface acres and 1,200 miles of shoreline that "IS" Lake Toledo Bend, and with Autumn weather patterns cooling the waters which borders the states of Texas & Louisiana, Greg assures me that before the "afternoon-shift" began arriving for Stacey's lunch specials, that we would have all of the "top three"popular species, White Bass, Crappie, and Black Bass, well composed within the viewfinder of my camera lense.
Between bites of our pre-dawn meal , Greg began to fill my notes with the seasonal aura of what North Toledo Bend has to offer. "During Winter, Greg began,"December through February, early winter black bass will be holding along the river channel and along the points and bends in deep-water creeks. 3/4 to 1 oz. Pig & jigs, or 3/4 to 1 oz spinner baits slow-rolled will be most productive. You need to fish very slow. towards the end of January and into February, as the larger bass will start going into a pre-spawn pattern. They will start staging off the points of the creeks leading into the spawning flats or start moving into the buck brush. Spinner baits, traps, cranks and soft plastics worked in the creek points will be most productive. Darker colors, or colors imitating crawfish, seem to work best. Jigs, tubes, brush hogs and plastics flipped and pitched into the buck brush will produce your better fish as this is the time of the year to catch double-digit bass.The White Bass will start migrating up-lake into the river, concentrating on the lower end of the river in the first part of the season and start working north as the fish begin their winter spawn run. Fish the sandbar points and bends along the river with live Crawfish, Road Runners, spoons or tail spinners.The crappie will start concentrating in 15 to 25 ft of water along the ledges over brush tops in the old river channel. The Crappie will move further south along the river into deeper water as the temperature drops. Micro-jigs produce better than Shiners at this time.
"In the Spring, March through May, Greg continued, "The black bass are between pre-spawn and spawn. Main lake ridges and humps, shoreline buck brush and coves will be producing best. Northwest pockets will warm quicker and fish will move into those warmer pockets first. Spinner baits, stick baits, jigs & pigs, soft plastics and jerk baits will all be productive. On cloudy days, and or, stained muddy water, use darker
colors, on clear days use brighter colors.The males will move into the shallows first making the beds and the females will come in later. Once the female drops her eggs the male will move back onto the bed to guard the nest. "White Bass will be moving back to the main lake out of the river proper from their annual spawning grounds. Concentrate on the bends and points of the river sandbars. Live crawfish usually work best but Road Runners are also productive. Once the Whites move back into the main lake, start on the north end and concentrate on the points and bends of the old river channel with slab spoons, tail spinners, small crank baits and silver traps. Use your electronics to locate the bait- fish and the Whites will be close by. Crappie will be scattered along the grass lines close to deep water in the coves and creeks. They will also gang up on the edges of the creeks over brush tops, either planted or natural. Follow the grass line and throw 1/32 oz jigs parallel to the line. Vertically fish the brush tops in the creeks with shiners or jigs. Follow the creeks using your electronics to spot brush tops and bait fish.
Late April and early May, Greg further advised, the Chinquapins & Bluegill will start moving on their spawning beds in 3 to 8 ft of water. Depending on the lake level, which will determine the fishing pattern, if the lake is mid range (168 ft) they'll concentrate on the main lake ridges and humps in 6 to 8 ft of water. Crickets and worms usually work best. If thelake is below 168 ft, concentrate in the coves and protected pockets. Look for honey combed holes along the bottom of the shallow water to find the beds, (it's not unusual at this time to catch 700 to 1000 per day).
Summer, June through August, Greg points out, "The first part of this quarter, the black bass will be in a post spawn pattern and will be coming off the beds. The bite will be slow as the bass will be lethargic from the spawn. Start in 5 to 10 ft of water along the creek points closest to the spawning areas. The bass will hold in these areas to regain their strength before they move into deeper water and their summer patterns. Crank baits and soft plastics worked slow will produce best. As water continues to warm the bass will move into their deeper holes along the river channel, sloughs, creeks and grass beds. Deep diving crank baits in shad or bream colors, Carolina or Texas rigged soft plastics in green and reds will be producing best. When the grass starts showing up, jigs and large worms will work best. Early morning and late evening throw buzz baits and top water plugs over, and next to, the grass close to deep water. The white bass will continue to work along the old river channel points and bends but they will start to move over main lake humps close to the river channel in 15 to 20 ft of water. Shallow diving crank baits, spoons, top water plugs and tail spinners will all be productive. Also watch for schooling activity along the river channel and road- beds. The crappie will concentrate in the creek channels and sloughs in 10 to 15 ft of water. Natural, or planted brush in these areas will hold them. Shiners and jigs fished vertically over the brush tops works best.
"And in September through November, which is where we're at right now, Greg announced , "as the water temperature starts to drop and the days become shorter, the shad will start moving into the coves and pockets, the black bass will start moving from their summer haunts following the shad, feeding heavy in anticipation of winter. Fish the points and bends in the creek channels with crank baits and soft plastics. Any brush along these areas will usually hold some fish. Look for schooling bass. Traps, shallow diving crank baits, top water plugs and Texas rigged plastics will all be productive. Also fish the edges of grass that drop off into deep water with jigs and large plastics. White Bass will concentrate along the main lake river points and bends in 16 to 20 ft of water. Also look for schooling whites in the same areas as they'll be in a Fall feeding frenzy. Spoons, tail spinners, traps and shallow diving crank baits are all productive. When schooling, top water plugs, and shallow diving crank baits work best. The Crappie will start moving from deep water creeks to the main river channel and normally will be more active on the very north end of the lake early in the season. As the water temperature continues to fall, the Crappie will move south, down the lake along the river channel. Concentrate in 12 to 20 ft of water with shiners or 1/32 jigs fished over brush tops on the ledges of the river channel.
With our hunger "busted", and our appetites "whetted" for the anticipated adventure's of "the morning-shift" we were soon cruisin' the river bends in Greg's 20' Procraft, running the thin crack betwixt the fading "Moonset" of the night and the warming radiance of a rising sun, "Man, I commented about the "awesome" beauty of it all, "it just don't get no better. "Oh yeah it doo, Greg yelled back with a grin as he began to throttle down to a wallow around the next bend, "where, several boats were already anchored and "hookin' up to the early morning bite. "Grab this, Greg instructed as he handed me a rod rigged with a shad colored tailspinner. "Cast it out to the middle of the river channel, Greg further instructed, "then let it fall to the bottom before "sloowly" swimming it back along the top of the sandbar. "You'll actually feel the blade turning as you..."uh oh, there he is, Greg suddenly interupts himself as his rod tip shudders, then sharply arcs to the sudden interest of a hungry White Bass. "A nice schooly, Greg informs as we admire the stocky fish before releasing it back to the river. After a couple more catch & releases of sammy-same sized whites, we decide to make a move to our 2nd quarry, "where, after moving only 100 yards up-river, we make short work with micro-jigs fished around a brushtops to catch some rather nice Crappie, "where, after catching & releasing a few, Greg suddenly pulls our troll-motor and quips with a big grin,"NOW,.... it's time to go Black Bass fishing!!
Zipping up and strappin' down, we made a short, but speedy downlake run maneuvering past the buoys of the well marked boating lane untill we approached a feeder lane where Greg throttled down and slowly began idling through a maize of surface timber edged by a bank of towering pine and hardwood trees "This is where we've been spotting some Bald Eagles, Greg informs, "further telling that two adult Eagles and one adolescent have been spotted in this area, "beautiful bird, Greg comments, "Amen to that, I reply as the adolescent Eagle swoops out and away from us. Upon entering into a widening slough, the water around us suddenly "explodes" into wild surface activity as a marrauding school of feeding Striper hungrily chase panic stricken shad. "OOPs, forgot to tell you about them critters, Greg alerts as he tries to re-rig, "but, before he can tie on the first Rattle Trap, the action suddenly ceases just as quickly as it had erupted as the heavy sided "bruisers" sounded back to the deeper water of the river channel. "Feeling dejected and slightly molested, we finally re-directed our efforts back towards our original fishing destination, a not too distant "stump infested" point jutting out into a feeder creek.
"Here, use this Texas rigged "lee-zard", Greg offers to me, as he grabs a Carolina rigged "lee-zard".... "Now, don't ask me what a "lee-zard" is, but with Greg's former background as a Louisiana Tech Grad, it could be anything, "but" it very much resembles a soft plastic "lizard", "sooo, as Greg works his "lee-zard" along the sloping edges of the point, I prefer to fish my "lizard" along its drop-off. "Tic,"tic,"twang,"Umph, "Gottem", "skritch-skritch-skritch,.."geeeze, "what the, ...suddenly dominates the excitement of the moment as a "very surprised" angler, with a "very stressed" out rod, and a "skritching" reel peeling out line, becomes suddenly attached to the "bulldogging" antics of a rather large fish. "Ain't no bass, I gritted to Greg, as I did my best not to be pulled overboard!! "Naahh, tain't no bass, Greg remarked, as he grabbed for the net. As the monster fish began "skritching" out more line in its frantic attempt to disconnect itself, and after my "just as frantic" counter moves managed to keep it connected, a huge, silvery "washtub" sized "Gasper-Goo" finally came into Greg's "rather small" net, and into the "daily chuckle" for our day. With pictures snapped and backslapping gawfaws initiated, we quickly released the 25 lb class Freshwater Drum and continued to search for our 3rd quarry of the day. "Twasn't long either, as Greg immediately started hooking up to some nice 2 to 3 lb black bass that were hitting his "lee-zard", "LESSON LEARNED", "switching" to Greg's "lee-zard", I finally joined in on some of the action. The bass were exactly where Greg said that they would be as we continued to "sloowly" drag our "lee-zards" along the timbered edges of the creek channel. "The Heads were here last week, Greg advised to me-(translation- Heads= Hawgs, Lunkers, Big Bass)- But as we spent the better part of the morning catching some really chunky 2 to 3 lb schooly sized bass, no "Heads" were boated. "They must've fed during the full moon last night, Greg complains, adding that they probably wouldn't feed again til later this afternoon. But as I had to finish up my trip by noon, we zipped and strapped for a short, but speedy run back to Huxley Bay Marina.
This had been one heck of a mornings worth of fishing as we managed to fish for, and catch, the top three species of fish that most Toledo anglers enjoy fishing for at this time of year, as the Crappie, White Bass, and Black Bass, action was all imaged within the digitals of my camera. As we slowly entered the protected cove area of Huxley Bay Marina, we began passing a small fleet of boats and anglers that were heading out to where we had just came in from."Shift-Change" Greg answered to my quizzicals. After reaching the ramp, "Hey Greg,... I began to plead,.. "we really don't need to be tellin' anyone about my antics with that "Goo" do we? ..."Naah, was his grinning answer as we packed my gear for my long drive home. "But, before I could even get a good country mile down the road my ears suddenly became...... "VERY WARM".
For more info; on "the fishing end" of Lake Toledo Bend, contact Greg Crafts Toledo Bend Guide Service at (409)-368-7151, visit Greg's web site at http://www.toledo-bend.net/toledobend , or E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org . For more info about Huxley Bay Marina's "Full Service" Marina/Campground/Motel accomodations, contact (409)-368-2494 -or- clic to <www.huxleybay.com> or e-mail Stacey or Bob Vandrovec at <email@example.com>. As for hearing about my "antics" with that "Goo", just show up at the restaurant during the "morning-shift", as my ears are still....... "burning"!!