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Kayak fishing the Lone Star State...


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By Beve
#1038100
Smallies, Brownies, Bronzebacks...badass fighters whatever you call them. I think smallmouth are an awesome fish and a worthy challenge.

I have a limited experience with smallies. Caught some in Canyon Lake back in college. Tried for some in the Devils. Saw some nice ones being pulled out there.

I think it's hard call to say which bass is more beautiful: a smallie or guad, but the easy answer IMO is the hybrid of the two. SmallmouthxGuad hybrid. Let's talk about them too. 8)

So I pose a couple questions:
1. Where in the state do you catch smallmouth? In Central Texas rivers I know of the Upper/Middle Brazos, Guadalupe above Canyon, San Marcos, Blanco. San Gabriel above Georgetown??? I know lakes you have Georgetown, Canyon, and Stillhouse Hollow. According to TPWD there are hybrids in the Colorado--have heard of them being caught in lady bird lake.

Statewide the Devils may be the best of river smallmouth fisheries. I have heard the Pecos has some good ones too.

There are other lakes that have them as well. Anybody target lake smallmouth as well?

2. Where in the water column/river do they live?
3. What lures and tactics?? Live bait??
I have some Case plastics (mad toms, hellgrammites, super tubes and grubs) along with Mepps Black Fury #3 and #5 for my arsenal.

4. Are there better times a year than others?

A good resource (and one tightly ran forum) is
http://www.riversmallies.com/

I know YaknYota has some mega smallie wisdom :) . Kelly Watson was the master on the Blanco. Moder didn't you catch some smallies and hybrids on the San Marcos?

Discuss fellas. 8)
By GUMB0
#1038162
Well, I need a diversion so I would like to play :)

I would like to add that I have been catching quite a few below the damn on the Guadalupe. I also have only a few good pointers and the few months experience that I have been targeting them. I find it an exciting pry on my local river. Not exactly the Redfishing I am use to but it's extremely engaging.

I have had a consistent bite with smaller plastic(4"lizards& Hellgrammites) worked very slowly in fast moving water or just on the edge of the eddy. I have been experimenting quite a bit with how to keep them lower in the water column. I have been using sled head 1/8" jigs mostly. But as of late, I have been using a pinch weight on a regular wide gap 2/0 hooked texas rigged, that seems to get a little more action out of the bait and I can keep it in contact with the bottom, with out hanging up. The micro carolina rigg is what I was working on this afternoon. I got a rigg ready to try out soon, a mad tom on the micro carolina rigg, will see but I think it's going to be dynamite after this little cool front gets here. Oh yeah Beve they been soaking in some bait juice, all that plastic smell is now history.

That's about it for me I hope to learn something in the next few days by reading all the post.
User avatar
By Beve
#1038165
GUMB0 wrote:Well, I need a diversion so I would like to play :)

I would like to add that I have been catching quite a few below the damn on the Guadalupe. I also have only a few good pointers and the few months experience that I have been targeting them. I find it an exciting pry on my local river. Not exactly the Redfishing I am use to but it's extremely engaging.

I have had a consistent bite with smaller plastic(4"lizards& Hellgrammites) worked very slowly in fast moving water or just on the edge of the eddy. I have been experimenting quite a bit with how to keep them lower in the water column. I have been using sled head 1/8" jigs mostly. But as of late, I have been using a pinch weight on a regular wide gap 2/0 hooked texas rigged, that seems to get a little more action out of the bait and I can keep it in contact with the bottom, with out hanging up. The micro carolina rigg is what I was working on this afternoon. I got a rigg ready to try out soon, a mad tom on the micro carolina rigg, will see but I think it's going to be dynamite after this little cool front gets here. Oh yeah Beve they been soaking in some bait juice, all that plastic smell is now history.

That's about it for me I hope to learn something in the next few days by reading all the post.


Hey Gumbo--didn't you catch a big one on one of those helagramites? 8)
I still have yet to really try my mad toms and other case products. What kind of bait juice did you use? Are you soaking them right up unitl you go fish or just soak and then throw in a baggie? :?: Your micro carolina rig sounds like a good idea :) :idea:
User avatar
By Kelly Watson
#1038180
Smallies are awesome. Catching a trophy smallmouth from a TX river is no small task. I love to use weightless flukes, Case madtoms,6 in lizards, and tiny torpedos. I will not talk about where I fish for them, but I will say they do like light current,decent depth, and some cover. You must have all three to hold big smallies.
By Iamdamoder
#1038300
Wish I had something to add but my river bass fishing does not discriminate. :D So I am not going to repeat everything that was said on LMB a few weeks ago. My gear and baits are a little heavier than most would suggest but hell I catch almost as many fish as my wife most days. :oops:

Kelly said a mouthful about location. These conditions repeat no matter where you are able to put in.

go fish
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By Just Fish
#1038308
It's not a fish that I target, but I usually catch a few while I am LMB fishing. I have caught a few in the 4-5lb range on my local ake with 4" worms and light line. The one's that I catch in the river have all been small.
What a great fish though, the fight is increadable.
User avatar
By Beve
#1038352
Thanks for the replies. Let me be clear on one thing. I'm not asking for anyone to divulge their locations, especially specifics, and actually would like folks to hold those close to the chest. There aren't many places to catch these and that's kinda the point of question one--that's about it for places around centex.

Kelly and Moder gave good info that should apply to most rivers. :wink:
User avatar
By Jay61
#1038354
I managed to catch four back to back several years ago while casting under the Redbud bridge below the damn on Ladybird when they were releasing a lot of water. I was actually hoping to catch a striper and was throwing a silver Johnson spoon. Managed to get lucky and stumbled on a school of them moving through but what a fight they put up. Beautiful fish, too. Haven't caught one since. As for the Pecos, I've fished that river from Pandale to the Shumla wier dam since I was old enough to hold a rod and never caught one or saw one pulled out by anyone with me...just an fyi. Would like to know if anyone has pulled one out of the Pecos, though.
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By CityByTheSeaCitizen
#1038360
I fish for smallmouth a few times a year, and my favorites destinations near North DFW are Texoma, Lake Murray, Lake Arbuckle, and the Upper Mountain Fork. Although I haven't fished the UMF in about 8 years. I think Murray is the best lake in the region. I routinely catch 3lb fish, and have caught many 4s and a few 5s.

I use small jerkbaits. This fish are very aggressive reaction strikers, and Murray is crystal clear for our standards. The water is cool, and spring fed, so the fish are even active in the heat of summer.

My favorit luke is a pearl fluke junior. I prefer to add a bb about 3 inches above the eye of the hook. I fish the fluke extremely fast, and it pops out of the water if I don't add the bb.

I have found that small crankbaits work well, and so do real small spinner baits. For quality fish, I fish a carolina rig around submerged rocks. Murray is full of rocky structure. I use small plasitcs about 6" behind a barrel weight. If you use a cone style wieght you will get caught in rocks.

You will see the fish coming, before they hit it. It takes the same patience that a topwater has.

The north side of Lake Murray has much more mud, which makes it murkier. You are wasting your time trying to catch smallmouth there. If smallmouth have a choice, they prefer clear water. The north side of the lake has some decent largemouth fishing though.

Arbuckle is a very similar lake, except that it's activity decreases in the middle of summer. The fish become fairly passive.

Cool clear water, rocks, and a small jerkbait.
User avatar
By CityByTheSeaCitizen
#1038514
If you go to Murray or arbuckle, take your snorkel and mask. I have counted 3 beaver dams in arbuckle, and they are lots of fun to snorkel near.

In Murray they also have a very healthy walleye population. I have seen a few while snorkeling, but the smallmouth will let you get fairly close to them while you snorkel. It will really help you understand where to cast. The fish will hug the bottom, near the structure in 5-10 foot water. You will rarely find them shallow. They will swim from the bottom to the top of the water column to strike a bait though.
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By DNR
#1038821
I have caught two true smallmouth on Ladybird Lake near the Redbud dam. Both were 7-8 years ago. One was around 17"-18". Great fight. I was running a spinner bait through the rocks while it was still dark. Right as passed the last boulder WHAM. We were used to catching big bass on these trips so when I got it to the boat I was expecting a 6# LMB. As I was lipping it I noticed it was different, my buddy shined the light on it, a beautiful big brown fish.
We rarely ever took photos back then, but I wish I had one of that one.
Never caught one since or seen a photo of a true small mouth out of there.
By YaknYota
#1038973
All of us that are passionate about our sport have our favorite game and non-game fish that we like to pursue.

Personally, it's been the Smallmouth here on the Middle/Upper Brazos that have stirred my soul and left me in restless in my sleep a night or two.


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I'll be happy to raise a toast to the Smallmouth Bass, one of Texas most Noble Gamefish :clap: .

All of our Smallies were CPR'd and still swimming in the Brazos 8). I would also make a case for anyone else to do the same whenever possible :D .

What I look for on the River -

Hunting River Smallies is like getting my hands on ingredients for a favorite recipe. On my homewaters, that will be a upriver confluence, on site spring or even a slight seepage topped with a pinch of gravel and rock transition. Throw in some current and season with a mid river laydown or boulder field and viola!!! I now have the makings of a good Smallie run. I've also never caught a Brazos Smallie in more than 6' of water :o .

What I throw -

4" Berkley Hand Poured Finesse Power Worm or Power Leech

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Various 1/4 and 1/2 Hair jigs tipped with my choice of pork or plastic

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Did somebody say plastic?

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Don't forget the spinners!!! However, you can forget looking for these off the shelf :wink:

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I have found that medium to light action high density graphite rods work well with casting or spinning gear with a minimum of 6:1-1 gearing to keep up with charging fish.

Let's keep this one going.

I'll post more later.
User avatar
By Beve
#1039006
Thanks Shane. 8) :D

Very informative post. I appreciate you sharing your insights and a glipse of your tackle. I really like the idea of using soft plastics with spinners. 8)

:?: Would you use a tube or super tube without spinner and just slowly drag across rock bottom?

Anybody use live bait for smallies? :?:

BTW I've seen those smallie pics before but like any good fish picture, they never get old. :wink: :D
By YaknYota
#1039022
Beve wrote:Thanks Shane. 8) :D

Very informative post. I appreciate you sharing your insights and a glipse of your tackle. I really like the idea of using soft plastics with spinners. 8)

:?: Would you use a tube or super tube without spinner and just slowly drag across rock bottom?

Anybody use live bait for smallies? :?:

BTW I've seen those smallie pics before but like any good fish picture, they never get old. :wink: :D



Yes, I could, but there are other choices for hopping and crawling. I have done better split or drop shotting tubes and have even found them to be effective fished under a Lindy slip float rig.

Live bait and circle hooks are put into action as a last resort or during the March/April threadfin shad spawn. Killifish and Spot tailed minnows will round out the balance of my Smallie menu.

As for the reposted photos......................

Some folks will fish years or a lifetime for a Trophy Texas River Smallie over 20" and never catch one, much less see one :( .

I reposted the photos for fish ID purposes only. I wanted to remind Ya'll what a Trophy Texas River Smallie looks like :P :twisted: .

:lol:
User avatar
By Beve
#1039032
YaknYota wrote:
Beve wrote:Thanks Shane. 8) :D

Very informative post. I appreciate you sharing your insights and a glipse of your tackle. I really like the idea of using soft plastics with spinners. 8)

:?: Would you use a tube or super tube without spinner and just slowly drag across rock bottom?

Anybody use live bait for smallies? :?:

BTW I've seen those smallie pics before but like any good fish picture, they never get old. :wink: :D



Yes, I could, but there are other choices for hopping and crawling. I have done better split or drop shotting tubes and have even found them to be effective fished under a Lindy slip float rig.

Live bait and circle hooks are put into action as a last resort or during the March/April threadfin shad spawn. Killifish and Spot tailed minnows will round out the balance of my Smallie menu.

As for the reposted photos......................

Some folks will fish years or a lifetime for a Trophy Texas River Smallie over 20" and never catch one, much less see one :( .

I reposted the photos for fish ID purposes only. Now Ya'll know what a Trophy Texas River Smallie looks like :P :twisted: .

:lol:


I can only hope to target and catch a trophy smallie someday :) . The one's we caught in Canyon years ago (in a PB :roll: ) were 14-16".

The colors in photo #2 are truly show why they call them "brownies" and "bronzebacks".
By YaknYota
#1039097
Yes, I love the "classic" Brownie markings as well 8) .

However, Brazos Smallies like to dress for the occaision :lol: .
Like a chameleon, our Smallie's color can change to suit the ambush pattern.
User avatar
By Siler
#1039117
Great thread. Very informative.

Sorry I can't add to it because, quite frankly, I am snake bit when it comes to catching Smallies.

In my 34 years of fishing I have been fortunate enough to catch good numbers of Largemouth, Spotted, Shoal, Redeye, Guadalupe, and Suwanee bass but have only managed to catch one small Smallmouth in my life. I grew up fishing PK, Whitney, and the Brazos. And witnessed my Dad catch several quality Smallies from these bodies of water, but I was never able to pull it off.

I know. I need some cheese to go with this w(h)ine......but bear with me.

Where I fish on the Middle Brazos is known for it's Brownies. So I was pretty confident, that with time, I would stumble onto some........well.......it hasn't worked out that way. Lately I have been guilty of not leaving the Largemouth and Spots alone long enough to target these fish in particular. It looks like I am going to have to stop being hardheaded and narrow my efforts down more.

I talked with a well-known river local after my last outing about Brazos Smallies. He was gracious enough to give me some "inside" info on a few river locations that may help change my luck. I'm gonna to try these spots on my next overnighter and will report back with my results.........or lack thereof.....

In the past I have studied everything I can find on the internet about TX river fishing for Smallmouths. I have spent countless hours checking fishing forums and Google-ing the likes of "Kelly Watson", "Chris Shaffer", and some dude that calls himself "YaknYota" :P. Hell, I have even resorted to listening to the Yankees over at Riversmallies.com out of desperation. So it's up to me now to get on the river and apply it.

If all else fails, I guess I will have to lay down some frogskins to Shane for a day trip on the Middle. That's my plan B. :twisted:
By YaknYota
#1039368
Siler, Siler, Siler :roll: .

You are going to have to "reverse engineer" your Brazos smallie approach.

First off, your barking up the right tree. I like your points of reference btw :wink: . Anything Chris says can be taken straight to heart, although He can also be somewhat close to the vest regarding specifics. Understood as He's got a business interest to protect and has earned every bit of the respect he deserves as one of the Middle Brazos Basins premier Smallie experts.

In your quest for knowledge on Brownie Bagging, you zigged when you should have zagged :lol:. You went straight to the best river smallmouth info you could find. Could it be, that our Southern Impoundment Smallies that find their way into the Brazos are that much different from their Native brothers up North? You bet they are!

Now, this is the part where I steer you away from RS.com, and drop a name on you to research.......... Ron Gardner.

No man in Texas has CPR'd more Brazos Impoundment smallies over 6# than him, including a 7# plus Texas State Record.

I wonder what He knows :?: :wink: .

I was fortunate enough to apprentice under Ron for several years and have been the benefactor of many lazy Winter afternoons basking in the mind bending oneness Chris and Ron share with their quarry. Of course,as I recall (barely :lol: ), more than one or two gallons of Bailey's and coffee were consumed during these "sessions" :wink: .

Let the Homework begin :D .

Btw, Siler, as much as I like your "Plan B" , I'd rather have you book a trip with Chris and potlick his spots :P :twisted: :lol:.
By Harold Ray
#1039409
Shane,

You've made some great posts here. I especially enyoyed the long one with pictures, suggestions, and several looks inside your tackle box; what a pleasure. Everyone will apprciate your knowledge!! Thanks!!

Looks like that or those boxes were dedicated to jigs and plastics; how many tackle boxes do you fish out of? Do you use many crankbaits and hardbait lures, or you you use mostly soft plastics?

I have never fished for smallies and know zero about them. Are they native to Texas, or have they been stocked? In the past, I have thought of them as a more northern fish; never saw a single one when I was young and always on the creeks, rivers and lakes. I caught many fish of many species, but never a single small mouth.

Ray
User avatar
By Beve
#1039591
Special thanks to DNR for this study. Shows the hybridization of guadalupe bass with Smallmouths in the Blanco river.

Shoot me a PM if you can't get it to open. :wink:
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By smellyhands
#1039671
My favorite fish. End of story. There are certainly bigger species, but none as fun to fish for (for me). I grew up on them in Maryland fishing the Potomac and Susquehana rivers.

Yaknyota nailed most of my favorite baits. I noticed he suggested that perhaps Texan smallies behave differently than their northern counterparts. Based on the pictures of what he uses I'd say there probably aren't many differences. I have seen large mouth fisherman get stumped on bronzebacks before. The techniques are similar as there are many baits and approaches that will bag both species in waters that have both. However, I've noticed that a method that brings home the bacon with LMB might be ignored by smallies and vice versa.

I love fishing in this part of the country but I certainly miss the widespread availability of river smallmouth bass I used to enjoy.
User avatar
By Siler
#1039831
Yota,
"Reverse Engineering" is exactly what I plan on doing on my next outing.

The next time that I go "down" to the Brazos I'm going to try to look a recipe like you were talking about in your post.

A confluence. A spring or seepage. Gravel rock. A boulder field. Some current. A laydown.......it's ON!

Location. Location. Location. Right? :wink:


Thanks for reminding me of Ron. For some reason, I always had the idea that he was more of a lake guy instead of a river guy. Another "zag" by me I reckon.... :? I'll definitely add him to my list of Google-ees.

I trust what you say completely when you talk about the Brazos Smallie being different than it's northern cousins. I have no doubt that we are dealing with an evolved/adapted fish here. And finding info on the internet about our Brazos Bronzeback is almost impossible. But I had to try.....

I appreciate the first post that you put on this thread. It is very insightful on the productive techniques for these grand fish. Kinda makes me want to add some tacklebox photography to my future reports.

BTW - I'll change my plan B to Chris since you won't have me.....but I'm not sure If I still remember how to fish out of a PB. Hopefully I won't have to cheat like that. We'll see...
By YaknYota
#1040107
Harold Ray wrote:Shane,

You've made some great posts here. I especially enyoyed the long one with pictures, suggestions, and several looks inside your tackle box; what a pleasure. Everyone will apprciate your knowledge!! Thanks!!

Looks like that or those boxes were dedicated to jigs and plastics; how many tackle boxes do you fish out of? Do you use many crankbaits and hardbait lures, or you you use mostly soft plastics?

I have never fished for smallies and know zero about them. Are they native to Texas, or have they been stocked? In the past, I have thought of them as a more northern fish; never saw a single one when I was young and always on the creeks, rivers and lakes. I caught many fish of many species, but never a single small mouth.

Ray


Thanks, Ray :)

I have two upright files in my shop that are converted for storage of tackle/tackle boxes. I really like the fact that it's lockable.
Even with all of that tackle to choose from, it is rare for me to have more than two boxes on the River. The baits shown are from my "go to" menu.
Yes, I am more of a jig and plastics guy. When I'm on the Brazos, the gameplan does not involve locating fish, I already know where they are. This knowledge gives me confidence and allows me to fish slowly and methodically.

However, I would really only need 4 "hard" baits.

- 1/8 oz. buzzbait, white
- Arboghast Mud Bug, Firetiger
- Rebel Crawfish (not the Wee)
- Zara Spook, clear

I could be wrong, but I believe all Texas Smallies originated as transplants.
By YaknYota
#1040132
Siler wrote:Yota,
"Reverse Engineering" is exactly what I plan on doing on my next outing.

The next time that I go "down" to the Brazos I'm going to try to look a recipe like you were talking about in your post.

A confluence. A spring or seepage. Gravel rock. A boulder field. Some current. A laydown.......it's ON!

Location. Location. Location. Right? :wink:


Thanks for reminding me of Ron. For some reason, I always had the idea that he was more of a lake guy instead of a river guy. Another "zag" by me I reckon.... :? I'll definitely add him to my list of Google-ees.

I trust what you say completely when you talk about the Brazos Smallie being different than it's northern cousins. I have no doubt that we are dealing with an evolved/adapted fish here. And finding info on the internet about our Brazos Bronzeback is almost impossible. But I had to try.....

I appreciate the first post that you put on this thread. It is very insightful on the productive techniques for these grand fish. Kinda makes me want to add some tacklebox photography to my future reports.

BTW - I'll change my plan B to Chris since you won't have me.....but I'm not sure If I still remember how to fish out of a PB. Hopefully I won't have to cheat like that. We'll see...


Siler,

You are right, Ron is Lake Whitney's premier smallmouth specialist.
But remember, the brood fish in the Middle likely originated as Lake fish.
One of Ron's strongpoints is deep understanding of the Southern Impoundment Smallmouth itself. Don't kid yourself though, Ron has skills on the Middle as well. He introduced me to a rising water tactic that involved bouncing Arboghast Mud Bugs paralell to the banks. This technique has produced the biggest fish of the trip for us, on more than one occaision.

Btw - I was kidding :shock: :lol: . Afterall, like you said, he's a PB guide. It wouldn't be the same experience, IMO :wink: .
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