January 2001

Happy New Year one and all. I hope this year brings you heavy sacks and smooth sailing. With the dawn of this new year, I will be taking over the Fayette reports. I hope I can live up to the standard set by those that have traveled this road before me.

Let me start by trying to answer questions everyone is asking me and, I venture to guess, all the other guides on Fayette: What is wrong with the lake? Why can I not catch fish like I used to? And, Where are the schooling bass?

Well folks, our lake is changing. Fayette has seen intensive pressure due its location in the center of the Austin, San Antonio, Houston triangle. These fish have seen every bait know to man. They have become, what I like to call, size specific. There are literally millions of small bait fish in Fayette. Next time you are there, notice the size. Gone are the days of throwing large baits and catching fish. These fish know the size of their primary food so throw smaller baits!

In addition, the grass is virtually gone. Sure you can find some isolated spots (and they still hold fish) but between the eradication program of the LCRA a few years ago, the coots and the carp, the grass does not stay long. If you fished Fayette this past Spring, you found the grass on secondary points. Return there in the Fall and the grass has disappeared. I don’t look for the old days of matted grass beds to return.

Finally, with the addition of the cabins and campsites, many more recreational boaters are on Fayette. These folks have every right to enjoy the lake just as we fisherman. Their increased presence has all but ended much of the schooling activity Fayette was once famous for. We have got to fish differently if we are to be successful. Folks, I would be interested in hearing your thoughts on these ideas/ Please feel free to email me at the address below. That being said, on with the January report.

You must pay attention to December weather patterns, if you expect to have success on Fayette in January. The forecasters are calling for a wetter than normal December. That means the lake will stay at or above normal pool as we hit January. If the winter has been mild some fish will be moving to secondary points in preparation for the spawn. If we really have a winter this year, the vast majority of the fish will be deep for much of the month.

In the first part of January fish will normally still be deep. What does that mean for anglers? Look for deep humps and graph them thoroughly. Try to determine where on these humps the fish are holding. If you pattern fish on humps in 15-20 feet, throw a Carolina rig. I use a three foot leader of Bass Pro Shops XPS 14# fluorocarbon while my main line is 40# Spiderwire. I believe the Spiderwire lack of stretch and the invisibility of fluorocarbon helps both sensitivity and hook set in deeper water. In addition, I use a Johnny Morris Carolina Rig rod by Bass Pro Shops. This rod is a sensitive as it gets and coupled with the spiderwire really gives you not only a great “feel” for the bottom of the lake but an excellent chance to react to subtle bites. This year I have had the greatest success throwing a watermelon Baby Brush Hog with a chartreuse tail. That is where I would start.

If you are going to fish the deeper humps, a good spoon or watermelon XPS grub is the way to go. Fish vertically after marking the hump to determine where the fish and bait fish are holding. Don’t forget, in either case to throw out a marker NEAR but not ON the fish. It is hard to hold on a hump in open water without knowing exactly where you are and the direction of your cast and retrieve can, at times, be critical.

Many people look to the discharge this time of year and, to be sure, there are plenty of fish there. I prefer to throw a Slide Jig of either 1/8 or ounce depending on the strength of the current. Slider makes an excellent jig head for throwing along the discharge rocks. Their worms and lizards have just the right amount of action.

Later in January some fish will begin to move to the secondary points in a pre-spawn move that can produce impressive numbers and size. In these cases, I love to throw three baits. My first choice is the Norman Deep Baby N in the sunshine color. I throw into about 3 feet and pull it back to deeper water. You may hit some isolated grass when doing this. STOP, then rip it through the grass. Some of my best fish have come from this method. I also keep a white crawfish oz Rat-L-Trap ready to throw in the same areas.  If spinnerbaits are your thing, try something new. Throw the Lunker Lure Vibratron bait. It has a great vibration and a tremendous amount of flash. If you are a traditionalist, throw a double willow. Finally, you might want to throw a wacky worm. I use a Zoom trick worm and have found the new Watermelon/Pearl color the most effective though Watermelon/Red takes a lot of fish. Take a small piece of coat hanger and put it in each end for added weight. Don’t forget to check your bait before casting. It must fall parallel to the water column to be effective. I fish my with a 2/0, straight shank,   Gamakatsu round bend hook.

Finally, live bait. As many of you know, there are a large number of fisherman on Fayette that use waterdogs and I say have at it if you like. However, please remember this: current, and new studies have proven that when the fish takes a hook too deep we should NOT leave it in. Cut off the barb and the hook will come out easily. If you cannot cut it out, current thought is that you should leave about 12-18 inches of line attached to the hook. Believe it or not, that gives the fish a greater chance of survival than if you cut all the line off.

Well, that is about it for my first report. If you have any questions or just want to talk fishing, every weekend I can be found at Bass Pro Shops in Katy (Unless I am fishing). You can also contact me via email: FishingCoach@aol.com  or through my website: www.compassnet.com/fishcoach. Until next time, dress warmly, wear your life jacket and keep that kill switch attached. 

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