Carter Lake Best of Three

| July 25, 2011

NOTEThere is a flurry of writing going on out here in the middle, with more posts on Venice, Louisiana, fly fishing and an interesting idea to get us through the night – bass fishing at night, lights, lighting and kayak lighting for night fishing.

Out here in the Middle, we lost track of what day it was yesterday. I know today is Friday though, and with a little help from the second shift, I am going to get an earlier start for Amon G. Carter lake this evening. Being motivated by two incredibly disparate days of fishing at Amon G., one documented in the post Looking for Fish Out Here in the Middle and defined crudely as a “slaughter,” had no connection, no relation whatsoever to day two as documented in the post Fly Fishing for Largemouth Bass Out Here in the Middle.

No, today would be the rubber match, where I would either a) know I knew what I knew, or b) again question my existence. In a best of three, I have two things going for me. I will be leaving for Lake Carter an hour earlier, and I have two more magical black-on-black Clouser flies tied in the early morning before heading out here to the Middle. And I grabbed a whole big box of Clousers … just in case.

I managed to pull the words together earlier, in an effort to collect my experience for application tonight. I whipped out the last two posts, loosely related to Carter, in a few hours of organizational mayhem. The internet in the Middle is served up with phone modem cards, and they are … slow. How slow are they? Let’s just say I’m glad I got rid of mine. I am wondering about “jailbreaking” my iPhone, or going legit with a “Personal Hotspot” via iPhone. There just has to be a better way to get out from the Middle.

By now, some of you may have done your digging into Lake Carter, and I’ve even received re-tweets from a twitter follower who recollects fishing there in his childhood. What I look forward to most, besides being out of the Middle, is coming back and giving Carter a good, hard day or two of fly fishing off my kayak. This lake, at its current level sets up very nicely for a kayak, and a conventional fisher would likely have a heyday on Carter Lake.

LAKE ARROWHEAD TEXAS

I whipped the words with such speed and fury that I am pretty sure those previous posts don’t mention a recon. trip to Lake Arrowhead! Arrowhead is a shallow lake, and when I first glimpsed the water, just before dark, I could see that lake was taking it on the chin. All lakes in Texas are getting damaged by this drought, but some less than others, some more. Boat docks are high and dry. Coves have receded to their mouths, and some vessels sit just where the water left them, resembling a post-surge hurricane’s path. I had a feeling Lake Arrowhead could be a good lake, when I got the word-of-mouth on it, and from the little I read on it. I am beginning to believe there are some very good secrets being kept all over this huge state, and Lake Arrowhead really isn’t that far from DFW in the grand scheme of things. It’s just … unknown.

The next thing that captured my attention were the oil wells, in the lake. Yes, oil wells in the lake, and all over the lake. I had heard that, but I had to see it, and now I believe it. They appear to be the old style Spindletop style of galvanized, wide based, pyramidal derricks. At the bottom though, are what appear to be thoroughly modern connections, straws for those beached barges to come along and suck up the Texas tea.

Well after well, and all I could do is wonder how many bass were hanging around that manmade structure like shallow freshwater snapper. I also wondered if the derricks were ornamental, meant to look antique, or actually as old as they looked.
It didn’t take long for me to realize there was little shoreline, or walking access to Arrowhead, and the distance from the Middle would make it prohibitive while on that location. Lake Arrowhead may be smaller by Texas standards, but it would take days to figure it out, and a lot of luck to catch anything with thirty minutes of daylight however many days in a row I hit it. I would have to put this one back on the shelf for a later date.

BACK TO CARTER LAKE

I can hear the too familiar sound of cast nets hitting the water when I arrive, and shut down the Land Cruiser. It’s pretty easy to hear lots of things when traveling with the windows down (no a/c) out here in the middle. The atmosphere does have mercy on us out here in the Middle though; the ozone bubble, a gift of Dallas-Fort Worth and southern coal fired power plants (powering your home a/c as you read this), a bubble more intense in Denton than where it was created, does not reach to the Middle, and temperatures cool much more quickly in the evening as a result of that and lower humidity levels here.

As I make my way toward “the spot,” I hear not one, but two cast nets going full tilt. Looking down on the scene, I see the two locals from the other night, and two more standing in the water and casting. Not good. They are casting on shad bait balls that are being chased into them. Not good. I decide it’s time to get away, and walk another fifty yards before bumbling down the riprap to the water’s edge. I am newly supplied with heavy black Clousers (last round’s killer fly), and once again I let the lead fly.

Thirty minutes go by without a bump. I am starting to think the rubber match will be won by the fish. I plug new numbers into all the variables. Deeper drop, slow retrieve, and fast retrieve yield nothing. Change flies, and again nothing.

I am getting the feeling I need an excuse. As the cast netting locals hop the riprap towards me, wantonly throwing their nets at shad balls trapped against the shore and being bombed from above – I think I have one. I feel like asking these guys what is going through their minds, but I am a long way from home. At least the second set of netters is staying in their spot and destroying fishing in a limited range.

Finally, I catch one largemouth that goes about a pound and a little. The ice is broken, but nothing follows. Still, the cast netters cast, and miss, and cast. They thoroughly demolish the shad without catching any to put on their hooks, and throw at predator fish most certainly swimming away from all the commotion. “Fishing’s not as good tonight,” he says … “I wonder why,” I think but hold my tongue.

Sometimes we’re the lions, and sometimes we’re the lambs. This time, as the snakes start swimming toward my spot on the shoreline, I decide this contest will be continued with a best of three becoming a best of five. It’s only fair. As I stop to converse with the locals, they start to scurry as the snakes come swimming home toward them. In a “Hey Bubba” moment, one of them decides to put his rod tip under a snake and flip it away. The snake instead lands on the smooth concrete embankment at his feet and coils to strike. A full southern-profanity-laced-retreat ensues, backpedaling and all the while parrying the snake with a rod tip. I’m done.

I can feel the charm of Carter lake slithering away from my consciousness as I load up the Cruiser and head back to the Middle.

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Category: Culture on the Skids, Fishing Reports, Fly Fishing for Largemouth Bass, Life Observed, North Texas, On The Road

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I write. I photograph. I fish, and I live.

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  1. shannon says:

    I always wonder; is it Lake ____, or _____Lake? Somebody decide, and I will make it a TFC Stylebook rule.