Lakecaster Online

"A Day On Rayburn"
By Ed Snyder

Somewhere Betwixt Bird Island And Buzzard Point, Lake Sam Rayburn, TX. .... "Bizzy little critters ain't they, grinned I, as another handsized crappie was flipped across the gunnel of the boat before being de-hooked and tossed back as undersized. "Yep, agreed Pistol Pete, "but after these "bizzy little critters" grow another year they'll provide us with some pretty incredible crappie fishing dontcha' think-?- "Yep, sure-nuff will, I answered after catchin' another "slightly-under" ten inch throwback.

"Lately, Pete began to explain, "Rayburn's crappie fishing has been really good, "but, we've had to cull from between 30 to 40 of these "bizzy little critters" in order to catch our ten inch keeper's................ "Hmmm, thought I, as our catch & release pattern was already up to the #36 mark, "and counting".

I was fishing today with "Pistol Pete"-(alias "Pete Gunn")- who is considered by most to be one of the top-5 pro-fishing guides who ply their trade on these "incredible" fishing waters of Lake Sam Rayburn. "Question", what do fishing guides do on their days off-? "Answer"-(read-on)

Six:am early found me standing in Pistol Pete's Pro-Tackle shop in Broaddus TX,-(located on the upper mid-lake area of San Augustine County)- where, after some quick grabbin' and snatchin', we finally launched our day from the ramps of Jackson Hill Park, where, after but a short run around an Attoyac River point found us starting our fishing-day chunkin' an extended sandbar for some hopeful white bass and hyper-striper action. "You try those "Charley Slabs" that you brought with you, Pete instructed, as he chose to use the standard 1/2 oz chrome CC-spoons. Quickly connecting a 5/8th oz yellow, ovate shaped chunk of lead, with trebles attached, I tried to catch up to Pete, who was already working his cc-spoon along the edges of a submerged sandbar that merged the Attoyac with the Angelina.

"They've been schooling here pretty good early in the morning, Pete stated, "but, I guess this cool front is keeping them down, he tried to explain, as the ripples over the sandbar were from strong north westerlies rather than from schooling whites and hybrids. A sudden tale-tail "tic-tic" on my charley slab signaled that the fish were there alright, and after quickly connecting to another "tic-tic" my rod finally bent to the action of our first fish of the day. "Good white, quipped Pete, as his rod also bent to the waterline from a sudden "tic-tic". Just before releasing my nice two pounder back into the water, Pete managed to boat his first catch, a 14" undersized Hybrid-Striper, which he also released. After catching and releasing several more whites, along with a few "goo", Pete decided to throttle-up and head over to Indian Creek for some bass n'grass action.

This was to be just a fishin' day for Pete, and I, as we both needed some -R&R- from our normal routines, Pete for checking out some new spots for future guide-trips and I for getting input for this story. Our day was to be spent fishing for, and hopefully catching, several different species of fish from several different areas of the lake on several different baits and techniques. And with our first objective of fishing for white's and hybrids quickly fading behind us, it was just a short run from the sandbar to Indian Creek before we'd be dragging 12' to 14' grass-flats.

With brisk winds putting a fair chop on the water, we switched to 5/8th oz slip weights rigged carolina style with 18" leaders and 2/0 hooks. "Use the red-bug Bass Assassin's and I'll work the plum-apple, instructed Pete, as he flung his rig towards the inside edges of the flat. "The grass isn't full like it should be, Pete informed, "but in scattered clumps, just drag your bait until you feel the grass, then "slooow" your retrieve through it and you should get some hits. It wasn't long before both of us were getting plenty of hits, but no hook-ups, as the fish seemed to be mouthing the baits rather than grabbin' and running with them. "Its because they're feeling the high-pressure from the cool front that passed through last night, Pete explains. So, by "sloooowing" down our retrieves even further, we were finally able to hook-set some of those "mouthy" hits which began to produce bass catches in the pound and a half to two pound ranges.

"A lot of people are complaining that Rayburn has no grass left, Pete informed me, as he further stated that they were wrong. "Rayburn has plenty of hydrilla, Pete stated, "and some pretty healthy grass at that. "All they have to do, he advised, "is to get out and start looking for it as it may not be in the same areas that they had once found it, but can be found in other areas that they may have never fished before. "And, Pete emphasized, "you really need to have at least a quality $200 to $300 depth sounder which have the higher resolutions necessary for properly spotting those grass-beds as the cheaper units just won't do the job.

After hooking up and releasing several bass from the flat, Pete decided to give me a quick tour of some nearby areas which had good stands of hydrilla patches, with some that were growing to within 2" of the surface and close to matting-up for the summertime jig-bites. "Most of us who've fished this fantastic lake over the years have been spoiled by its ability to produce steady catches of lunker bass, Pete tried to explain, "and after Rayburn suddenly failed to produce its "normal" routine of big bass catches most anglers deduced that it was because the grass was killed off with the big bass. "Yes, we did have a bass kill last year, Pete confessed. "but it wasn't because of any devious chemical kill from any man-made causes. "Mother nature sometimes works in mystical ways, Pete noted, adding that the combination of a severe drought followed by an extreme summer with above normal temps may have caused the kill. "But", Pete informs, "we're still catching good bass, and plenty of them as most bass anglers on Rayburn are filling their fishing trips with catches of from 30 to 70 bass per day. "Granted, most of those bass are betwixt 13" to 15", Pete enlightens, "but, give them another year, or two, and those 13" to 15" bass will be up to the 5 to 8 lb class averages. "Rayburn is still in great shape, Pete stressed, as he manuevered his Raycraft towards a not too distant bank area, and an attempt at catching our 3rd quarry of the day.

As soon as I took a peek at Pete's Lowrance depth recorders LCD screen, I immediately started grabbin' for my ultra-light tackle as Pete had just located one of his "crappie motels" which was showing the "no-vacancy" sign. After quickly rigging up with 1/16th oz jigs with some Texas Twister grub-tails, we commenced to start "checking out" some of those guests. (Which was where we were at with the beginning paragraph of this story).

After being advised by Pete that we would probably have to cull through 30 to 40 crappie before catching any sizable keepers, and after our crappie count had reached 36 -"and counting"- I decided to switch to a red & chartreuse 1/8th oz roadrunner type jig which I hoped would attract a bigger bite from the extra flash of its tiny spoon. Our #37 crappie was slightly larger, but still a throwback, #38 came in at about the same size, then #39 tugged harder, bowing up my Browning gold medallion ultra-lite rather nicely until our first keeper came in, a white crappie of about 15"......"Hmm, noted Pete as he eyeballed my roadrunner. After live-welling the crappie for pictures, I quickly re-casted to Pete's buoy marker and immediately hung another bite which also arched the Browning to the waterline as our 2nd keeper, a black crappie of about the same 15" size, came across the gunnel ........"Hmmmmm, Pete re-noted with arched eyebrows as he reached for his tackle pack............."End of story".

For information on Rayburn's prime fishery, and how you can enjoy "A Day On Rayburn", contact "Pistol Pete" at (409)-872-3572.


"Pistol Pete" with good grassbass

Ed Snyder with typical grassbass

< photos by Ed Snyder >


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