"Striper Alley" Lake Toledo Bend, TX/LA
"There they are, Patty alerted as the LCD graph marked several large fish holding over the hump. "They be Striper, and big ones at that, Noe advised just seconds before Patty shrieked "FISH ON!" The next few seconds were "blurred" as we hurriedly reeled in our lines to give Patty some fighting room. "GOSH" this fish is strong, Patty lightly complained as the brute forced her to brace for a long fight. "Finally, after some "toe-to-toe" moments of drag burning runs and rod wrestling, the lady finally managed to lead the Striper to boat-side, "Where, after another surging run, Noe finally "swoops" our the large Striper into the net. It was 6.58 am, only minutes after launching from the Harbor Lodge boat ramp, and by 7:45 am we would have eight more "shrieks" & hook-ups which saw "nothing but net" as Noe was kept busy landing Striper from eight to fifteen lbs.
A previous evening's phone call hustled me from a couch potato status as Noe Garcia alerted me to some early morning Striper action that he was now experiencing on Lake Toledo Bend. "They're here, and big ones too, Noe excitedly informed as he spoke of catching 8 to 12 lb Striper during the first hour of dawn. "Yeah, but will they be there tomorrow I quizzed, "YES" was his adamant reply -"BUT"- we need to be launched by 6:30 am and fishing by 6:55 am, Noe strongly advised.
With alarm clock set for the "be-witching" hour I quickly made another alarm call to Patty Schaefer to inform her of the opportunity, "Sure" was her delightful reply as she promised to be there with her special "Whirlwind" Striper baits. After some rather active Striper fishing dreams initiated some rather wild toss & turn restlessness, I managed to make the 6:30 am launch-time just as Patty arrived, "Where, after a short minute's run around the Pendleton Bridge, Noe had us strollin' DD-22's down the timber edges of Striper Alley. "The Striper have been pretty active here all month, Noe informed, "mainly due to the hot August heat where they've been congregating in the cooler, deep water holes of the river bends. "We should have one on pretty shortly, Noe promised, as he eyeballed his electronics for the tell-tale "blip" that would show where the Striper were holding at.
Noe Garcia, a retired/retreaded U.S. Air Force veteran, has been a fishing guide on Toledo Bend for over 12 years now. One of the few guides who really do it all, Noe has become famous for his Bass, Crappie, Catfish, Bream, and Striped Bass trips.
Patty Schaefer, Owner/Proprietor -(and chief flunky)-of "Texas Whirlwind Baits" a locally owned and operated fishing tackle company that she and her husband, Larry, operate, brought along some of her "Striper Alley" Tackle for us to field test on Toledo Bend's in-famous "Bullies on the Block" Striped Bass.
Striper, an East coast saltwater species which were landlocked into freshwater reservoirs in the early '60's, quickly found their niche as a freshwater sport-fish that could provide "huge" weighted challenges to those sport-fishing anglers who craved "toe-to-toe" action. With saltwater Striper reaching weights up to 78 lbs, its freshwater cousin provided a 67 lb rock for its record. Commonly reaching weights of from 6 to 30 -plus- lbs on Toledo, "The Bend" presently holds a 38.75 lb lake record caught in September of 1991, with an "un-official" record of 56 lbs, which was caught but not recorded over 15 years ago.
As 6:58 "clocks-in" Patty suddenly shrieks "FISH ON" as her rod arches to the water line, she sets her DD-22 hooks into our first Striper of the morning. "Keep your rod-tip up, yells Noe, as he shuts down the engine and moves to help patty. "Gosh this fish is strong, Patty grits to the surging pull of a big fish. After several more minutes Patty finally "rod-wrestles" the brute to boat-side, "where, after one more frantic run, the Striper is finally netted by Noe. "Golleeee", shrills a very tired fisher-lady, "that's my first "ever" Striper!! After some quick congratulatory high-fives, Noe re-positions the boat and prepares to make another run. "We'll keep running with these deep-diving crank-baits, Noe advises, "until I can spot a pod of fish which will be holding tight to cover. "Then, he re-advised, "we'll position over them where we can try some of Patty's "Striper-Alley" baits.
"Texas Whirlwind" produces a pony head jig, which was designed for just this purpose, Patty informed as she held out one of her baits to our view, a well-designed lead-head bait with buck-tail and spinner. A favorite type of lure to fish with, the buck-tail jigs probably produce more Big "T" Striper catches than any other bait. Trolling with Norman DD-22 crank-baits would enable us to quickly locate some feeding fish, which would be attracted to the strong vibration of the DD-s as they were, trolled about 75' behind the boat. Then after locating these active fish we would position the boat over them and start jigging Patty's Whirlwind "Striper-Alley" jigs through them.
About 1 minute into our next run, Patty "again" shrieks "FISH ON" as her rod "again" bends to the waterline. Much like a repeat of our fish, another 8 -plus- lb Striper comes to net, where Noe releases it after pictures, just as we did with the first one. Now that Noe had the Striper "X-D" he repositioned the boat so we could start working them with Patty's bait.
Often times I'd ask my husband "Do you remember when we were just going to make a few crappie jigs?" "That is, after all, how all this got started, Patty informed to my notes. " It didn't take long, however, until fishermen found out that we were making baits and started asking us to make other things, such as- "Can you make one that does this"- "Can you make one that looks like that"- "Can you make one that can catch Striper"- were the many requests that we had. "Then, Patty reviewed, "Came the more detailed requests as many wanted the same product but wanted a culmination in it of the best parts of the best baits that were already out. "The results were our own unique line of baits, as "Texas Whirlwind" was chosen as a brand name. "Big Bass Jigs, "Spinner baits, several different makes of Buzz baits, Buck-tail jigs, etc. They were the next phase the fishermen wanted. "Making lures is not a finite institution, however, Patty explained, "As fishermen wanted different colors, different components, so it's always changing - "forever evolving". "The trick is to listen to the fishermen, Patty advised, "As they know exactly what they want. "Our job is to give it to them. "Most recently, Patty informs, "We've been catering to the saltwater fisherman as we now have several different jigs and jig styles for them as well, as It too is an evolutionary process. "As a designer/manufacturer, Patty explaind, "We have to take into consideration every time what it is that the fishermen want and make it work. "Sounds easy, huh? "Sometimes a whole lot of prototypes have to go out to be field tested, brought back, then often times altered several times in this process before a "final" product is put out on the market for sale. "It is a process of ideas, discovery, artistry, and play out in the field to get a product to the market. We do in fact love our job, Patty stresses, "As we are forever grateful to the fishermen who makes it happen for us.
With that parcel of knowledge well tucked within my note-book, Patty prepares to field-test her first "Striper-Alley" jig as she makes a cast to Noe Garcia's pinpointed instructions. "Just let it sink to the bottom, Noe advised, "Then pick it up and start jigging it about 5' to 8' off the bottom where the Striper are holding. "THUMP" - "THWIP" - "GOTTEM"- was my, not Patty's frantic comment, as I felt the not so subtle "THUMP" of a Striper hit before setting my hook into "MY" first Striper of the morning. "But, before I could turn my first run, Patty also shrieked "GOTTEM" as she suddenly bent to the task of fighting her 3rd fish of the hour. "THWAP" - "LOSTEM"- was my, not Patty's frantic comment, as I lost my first Striper just before Noe managed to land Patty's 3rd, a really nice "bully" of about 15 lbs. "You need t' keep your rod-tip up, Noe chuckled to my embarrassment, or they'll rip off of the hooks every time...... "Lesson Learned, as Patty, and I, would fight and land five more T-Bend Striper before the school moved off to deeper destinations. -"It was 7:45 am"-. All eight Striper that we caught within that short hour were within the 6 to 8 lb bracket, with Patty's "heavy" 15 being the largest, with five of the eight readily hitting Whirlwind's new "Striper-Alley" jig, which very well proved itself as a prime-time producer of some excellent Toledo Bend Striper action. It only took an hour for us to experience this "HOT" action with Noe Garcia at the helm of his sleek, Stealth guide-boat.
To reach Noe Garcia's Pro/Guide fishing service contact (318)-645-4029- or- for locating where you can find Patty Schaefer's "Whirlwind" freshwater "&" saltwater fishing tackle contact (409)-625-4452 -.