Lakecaster Online Archives – February, 1999
Fishing The River
By John Plumb
Fishing the river Yearly, the white bass that reside in Lake Livingston make their spawn run up-river. Usually the migration occurs in late January or early February, and may last into late March. The weather and river condition will determine how long it is fishable for most folks.
Virtually, you can follow the whites as they move up the lake. Reports from north end marinas may aid in tracking them. Once assembled in the north end of they lake, they are staging for the move up the river. When water temperatures and current are just right, they begin the trip.
Depending on water flow and clarity, fish may be found throughout the entire river system. Popular creeks between Hwy 19 and Hwy 7 can be a bonanza. Harmon, Bedias, and White Rock Creeks have long been very good producers of spawning whites. Conditions being right, one many not need to travel to the lock and dam at Hwy 7.
I have fished the river, and the creeks mentioned, but I have always favored the stretch from Hwy 21 north to Hwy 7 at the lock and dam. It’s about 85 miles above the lake and the quality of fish found in the upper reaches is beyond compare. Only the strongest of the whites make the journey that far up. Other fish will venture into major creeks along the way.
The whites must have running water to spawn. Not good parents, they lay their eggs in the following water, and go their way. The abandoned fertilized eggs will tumble through the water until hatching. The newborn white will find a safe “hidey-Hole” until mid-summer, and then move into the lake.
The way to fish the river is with flat bottom type or shallow draft boats. There is a very good new ramp under the Hwy 21 Bridge. Large enough for a pontoon, good surface, no problem. Hwy 7 has no ramp. PT’s Bait Camp is on the west side of the bridge, north of the highway. He has a trolley that will let you down and up for a modest fee. Light boats with small motors only.
From Hwy 7 downstream, premium fishing is abundant. Fish in the slacker water on the inside of the bends with 1/4 oz. leadhead jigs with a 3″ twister tail, roadrunner, speck jigs, etc. Small slabs will work in clean areas. Lots of snags/logs/rocks to hand up on, so take lots of baits. You will need them. Small rattletraps might be a handy item to take along. They will work in off color water.
Simple technique: anchor and fish, let the current do the work. Cast toward the bank and slowly retrieve. You want the bait to sweep with the current while keeping on, or as close to the bottom as possible. The fish will be along the drop off. Heavier jigs may be needed to overcome the current.
There will be no mistaking the bite. These fish will be hungry and plentiful. Size limit should not be much concern. Likely most of the fish will be 2-1/2 to 4 lbs. Remember the 25 per day bag limit. Catch and release as much as you like.
The run up from Hwy 21 to the big eddy is fairly safe if you are careful. I do not recommend trying to go past the eddy for first timers. It is dangerous if you don’t know what you are doing. The river can be hostile to boats and motors. There are lots of logs, sandbars, and big rocks. The river is a lower unit graveyard, and has been known to eat boats.
If you go there, be safe and go slow when unsure. No need to hydro-blast the river. If the fish are there you’ll limit in an hour or less. Take your time and enjoy the view.
American bald eagles will soar overhead along the journey. If you’re lucky, you may see a deer, hog, or a beaver. They all live there. If you see eagles sitting in trees overhanging the river, look for fish. Good possibility.
Fishing up the river is an adventure. Those who go there find a quiet, remote, wilderness-like atmosphere that makes this adventure one of quality. It has become an annual trek for me. I’m not sure if it’s the fishing, or just the river itself, 3-4 lbs. white bass couldn’t have anything to do with it, could it? Anyway it’s a grand thing to be doing. I’ll see you up the river, if you go there.
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