Here we go This is the time of year I call the beginning. Each year, the whites make their way to favored spawning grounds. Where that is, is relative to conditions prevailing during the spawn period. Water and temperature conditions are the controlling factors. For this period, we will be prowling "skinny" water. Defined loosely, not in the familiar open waters of the lake proper.
In a matter of weeks, the fish will stage in the upper end of the lake in preparation for the "run." The run is simply their migration upstream. The term comes from bank-bound fishers who time their fishing when the fish are running on their journey. The folks who live on, or close to the river have the first clue as to when it is happening.
Many of the fish make the long haul to the upper reaches of our system, which ends at Highway 7 near Crockett, TX. Locally known as the lock and dam, this is as far the fish can go in low water years. This place has been the demise of many white bass to both bank and boat fishers. It's a fairly long, and somewhat dangerous trip for a boat. Much of the Trinity River above "The Big Eddy" is smattered with snag, rocks and shoals that are not boat friendly.
The trip is worthwhile, even with the boating hazards. If you plan to go, make sure you get all the information you can before your venture. The most important thing is how to navigate the gauntlet. Several really bad places exist that could easily ruin your day, and your boat. It's a river, and as such, subject to eternal change. Please be careful.
Less dangerous, but still productive are the major creeks along the way, and local ones around the lake. The main key to creek fishing is water flow. No flow, no go. The fish are seeking flowing water for their purpose. With no rain, the creeks will be still, and will not attract numbers of fish, rather scattered action from small pods of fish.
Creek or river, the methods remain constant. Small baits like jigs, grubs, or small rattling crank baits. Rattletraps are good, but in smaller sizes. Smaller is better. Look for fish on flats along the creek bank and work them over well using a slow retrieve. On, or close to the bottom is best.
Some target areas for an adventure would be White Rock Creek. An extensive creek that remains popular, and productive, but tends to get choked with boats on weekends. Bedias is another popular place. Again, extensive with many backwater flats. The grass-beds seem to hold lots of fish when they are in there.
Moving up-river, from Hwy. 21, there are many creeks emptying into the river, but are useless unless there is some substantial flow. Fishing the opening to the river is sometimes a pay-off. It is fishing, and you just never know until you try.
Look for heftier fish than normal. Good sized females will run in excess of 3 lbs. However, the first sign of the run will be the smaller male fish. They go first, and the females follow shortly. Many of the males will be less than legal sized. The larger females should be two weeks behind, barring unforeseen high water which will force the fish into the creeks to avoid the muddy conditions. That's when the adventure begins.
Going up a creek, you could easily find yourself fishing in what was last week a cow pasture. Mark your journey up with flagging tape. You'll be amazed at how easy it is to get turned around up there. If conditions are right for being there, you'll be running through the tops of the trees. It'll all look the same. Bad place to get lost.
When to go is the ticket. You'll have to do your homework and check around. Watch the Chronicle for reports, but don't depend on the paper as your only source. By far, the best is to just go and see for yourself. I'll be making a few trips about the middle of January. It could be February before it happens. Like I said, it depends on the elements of weather and water. Be careful and wise boaters in either place, and I'll see you, UP THE CREEK OR RIVER.