Tag: texas winter fly fishing
generation lakes power plant lakes texas #flyfishing
Lake Monticello fly fishing trip in 2013. Looks like a modern fossil to me …
It’s Water Wednesday! Rather than talk about the impending doomsday scenario from a leaking Lewisville Lake Dam, I think we will take a trip to the brighter side of Texas winter fishing by running down a newly found/assembled list of Texas cooling lakes. If you are unfamiliar with a “cooling” lake, there are several names these water anomalies go by. Generation lakes, power plant lakes … all describe lakes that circulate cool water into coal power plants (curse them), and then release that warm water to the benefit of the fish and fishermen (like me) jonesin’ for a wintertime fix. I’ve seen shows, videos and photographs of guys catching bass in fog (beware of fog) with snow coming down … as happy as little school girls.
It’s never as easy as, “It’s cold, so they must be generating!” when it comes to figuring out whether these lakes and their power plants are doing what we need them to do to warm up our fishing opportunities. This is all about the unpredictable ebb and flow of the Texas power grid. Often times, according to what I have read, more generation happens in summer than winter, as Texas is gripped by heatwaves. As far as I know, none of our power makes that National Power Grid (Just started reading Ted Koppel’s book though – “Lights Out”).
For me, there is one very good, overarching reason to try and hit these power lakes AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. I believe there will come a time when these lakes no longer are POWER LAKES. Coal is as dead as fossil now, and no single Republican will be able to bring that fuel back to life – ever. So as coal is buried, and other sources take hold, I can only imagine these lakes will recess into the memories of those who experienced them – Better Now Than Never, right?
I was dinking around on the message boards (Texas Fishing Forums) the other day, and threw out the question about al “list” of Texas cooling lakes, and promptly got smacked with a private message, smacked with logic that is, saying I should google it and / or look for that list on the Texas Parks & Wildlife website. And, of course there it was. So for my subscribers, here is your list of cooling lakes in Texas, and links to more information on these lakes. The only one I have done is Monticello, and that is a boat necessary run, unless you are willing to paddle a long way on a single-shot day.
Typical Lake Monticello bass – from my 2013 story on that lake.
LIST OF TEXAS POWER LAKES 2015 + Fly Fishing Records for these POWER LAKES
Believe it or not, there are about twenty lakes classified as cooling lakes (for power plants) in Texas. That number alone is pretty staggering. The mileage is measured from Denton, Texas.
I was watching my favorite conventional fishing show the other day, “Honey Hole,” and the host made a point about the bass you’ll find on these lakes. He said their metabolism runs all the time, so the fish (bass) don’t live as long, and therefore don’t get as big. I thought that was an interesting tidbit.
Yes, the days are short, and the sun doesn’t shine much, but there are still opportunities for those strong of heart, short on cash, wearing good thermals, and willing to drive a little ways to experience winter fly fishing Texas style.
IF YOU ARE IN NORTH TEXAS
If you are in the North Texas area, you can go a long way toward turning a new generation of fishers (and maybe future fly fishers) on to fishing by having a look at the TPWD trout stocking schedule, and taking a youngster fishing. It really is a strange setting by fly fishing – ponds stocked with baby rainbows – and the best way to get at them is a small spinning rod and power bait rig. It may not be for you, but if you know any kids that need to get outside, and maybe out of Mom’s hair, then check the schedule and take them fishing. Another non-pond location that’s stocked with trout, and is actually fly fishing worthy as well as having power bait potential, is the waters of the Brazos just below the dam at Possum Kingdom. I have seen fresh schools of these fish swimming in circles around a wading fly fisher – with my own two eyes.
Cold Water Opportunities
There are also opportunities for those of us who want to keep fishing, but find the warm water done for now. Make no mistake, warm water fly fishing is pretty much done, and anything that you may happen to hook will feel more like (stripping in) a Coke can than a fish of a fight.
Measuring distance from Denton, Texas, which is at the top of the triangle that includes Dallas and Fort Worth, to the Blue River in Oklahoma, shows it to be eighty miles in one direction to the parking lot of the Blue River catch-and-release area. Find out the latest on the Blue River catch-and-release area.
Measuring distance from Denton, Texas, to the Beaver’s Bend park on the Lower Mountain Fork in Broken Bow, Oklahoma, shows it to be two-hundred miles one way. Their fish are inferior, except for the inclusion of brown trout, to the Guadalupe, but the distance makes it a North Texas favorite.
Measuring distance from Denton, Texas, to Canyon Lake, the Canyon Lake Dam, the Guadalupe River, Texas, should be about two-hundred-eighty-five miles, give or take ten.
These are all cold water trout waters, with the Lower Mountain Fork, and now the Guadalupe, making claims of “year around trout fisheries.” The earlier is most certainly true, while there are many, many variables that can effect that claim on the Guad. The Blue River catch-and-release area opens to catch-and-killers at the end of February.
Be sure to check previous posts on the Guad, and beware that there is a situation on the Guad right now that is causing flows to be cut (virtually off) every weekday to allow for big time maintenance work to be done to the dam. The last I heard, they are having problems doing the work, and they are extending the dates for the time it will take to complete the repairs. They don’t work weekends, so water is flowing then, but imagine the pent-up demand of weekdays plus the weekenders, all trying to get a fix on the Guad at the same time!
There are always winter opportunities to try some different and more exotic flyfishing in fresh water. How about chain pickerel? That opportunity exists in some East Texas lakes, and if you’ve never fished for these coyotes, they will unnerve you as you see them dart out of the grass and attack your fly just below the surface of the water. I fished for them awhile back, and can’t want to get another chance at them.
How about freshwater redfish? There are a few Texas power plants with cooling lakes stocked with redfish, and they offer the novelty of catching a saltwater fish in fresh water. Due to the nature of this beast, they do seem a bit more difficult to catch than their saltwater ancestors. Two power plant lakes that come to mind are Fairfield and one outside San Antonio – Lake Calveras. Fly fishing for these fish compounds the difficulty, but as long as you are close to the warm water release, you will be treated to a micro climate that could warm frigid air temperatures by several degrees. Winter is definitely the time to pursue freshwater reds as they concentrate in warmer waters.
Then there are the winter striper blitzes on Lake Texoma, Texas. This may not turn out to be a banner year for the blitzes, but if you are willing to bundle up, cast from the deck of a rolling boat, usually in windy conditions, then this is for you. We in North Texas live so near this that we almost take it for granted, but there are very few places in Texas that offer experiences like the winter striper blitzes on Lake Texoma, Texas. Freshwater stripers will give you saltwater trout and red fishers something to remember.
Growing up on the Texas Gulf Coast, I never considered winter to be a time to fish. My how times have changed! Fishing on the Gulf Coast is a year around sport now, and anglers have discovered fishing for speckled trout, redfish and flounder on the coast is at least as good as during the warmer months. This fact never ceases to amaze me. If I only knew then what I know now, but then I would be fishing the Lower Laguna Madre right now – instead of talking about it!
There are opportunities all along the Texas Gulf coast right now, and although it is a long run from North Texas, it IS the salt.
No matter what, it will take more money to fill the tank than it did last year, and it looks like we are headed to 4-dollar gas all over again. Strange, the politicians (democrats) aren’t complaining this time. Well, 4-dollar gas will go a long way toward a one-term presidency. If you are feeling the pinch, be sure to check the message boards under GOING FISHING. It’s time to get together to save a little gas money.
OF COURSE, if you are reading from anywhere other than North Texas, then odds are you are many miles closer to good fishing than we are here. The reality is that there’s not much that’s too close to those of us confined to North Texas. A week after our first snow event of the season, it’s plain to see warm water fish are off, and will be off until spring springs. Feel free to prove me wrong though!