Fly Fishing Lake Monticello – Part 2

| March 26, 2013

easttexas180As I moved around the bend toward the next cove, the bridge was looking tantalizingly close by big lake standards. The FM 127 Bridge seems to be the real separator between warm water and the cooler water where I was, and where the park is. It also separates the men (remember those bass boating, gas guzzling, hole shooters?) from the boys, as the bass boats continued to fly by, pause at the bridge and hit the gas again.

The wind was about the only thing holding me close in the coves, but that bridge was getting bigger. I decided to break from cover, and run to the warm water outlet.

EXPOSED

Not only was I exposed to the waves, whitecapped, I was also exposed to my lack of physical conditioning for paddling. Once I was under the bridge (a dangerous gauntlet if bass boaters do not heed the buoys), I caught some slack from the wind and skirted the bridge abutment as long as I could before I had to break away from that protection and look for a sheltered cove near the outlet. The water was definitely warmer, and birds were obviously working bait in the warm current – what little there was of it.

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The move was essentially a blunder of epic proportions. I basically surfed diagonally past the warm water area, and onto the point directly across from it. On another day, take away the wind, add the high volume warm water, and this spot would be producing. Not today. The shore was being pounded by wave action, and the cove I thought I saw from a distance wasn’t there.

I looked for some kind of forgiveness, but five minutes of that pounding and I knew I had to bail. Straight back against the wind, to the shelter of the bridge abutment … two strokes forward produced about fifteen feet of progress. Translation; a old fashion beat down.

I finally threaded the needle under the bridge and back into the cove nearest the bridge. From there I took a straight tack to the cove where I had seen bedding fish earlier. I figured they had time to relax, and settle back into their bedding, so I anchored and began casting at the two. Fly after fly, until I finally found the heaviest black / black Clouser I had, dropped it and let it sink, low and slow, and BANG!

The tug of war turned the boat around as the bass headed for deeper water, but the hook held as did the anchor. Rather than an aerial display, it was more like the deep hard pull of a bear waking from hibernation. Finally, I got the specimen – of spawning abuse – close enough to lip it.

smallmouth bass lake monticello texas
Rode hard and put up wet. This is one rough looking spawner.

I took an extra second to Boga this fish because I just couldn’t call the weight, and knew what I had read about Monticello fish being mostly big. At 3-1/8 pounds not bad, but not the minimum five for posting a waterbody record. At least I had figured them out after nearly seven miles of paddling and 120 miles of driving.

My impressions are that these fish are pounded HARD, and they were essentially spooky for a number of reasons. I actually had more fun witnessing the act of nature that is spawning behavior, and to be able to see it so clearly, the bass’ behaviors … it was a blast. And honestly, the fish I landed was the smallest one I had seen – with my own two eyes.

That was all I needed to call it a day. The beat down was complete, so I made my way back to the park. As I was landing, I noticed some of that same habitat off to the far side of the ramp along the park shoreline, so after a break I paddled over that way standing up, and watched at least a half-dozen pairs doing that same bedding thing. Again, fun to witness for its natural value, but I wasn’t too interested in interrupting their rituals with a rude Eagle Claw hook wrapped in hair.

CONCLUSION

All in all, this certainly isn’t my last trip to Monticello. I am left wondering what it would be like in real cold, with real generation of warm water. This is definitely a boating lake. If you are kayaking, you have to set your sites reasonably, and the wind is your nemesis. Also remember that there’s another lake connected to Monticello, and I didn’t even touch that! Below Monticello is Lake Bob Sandlin. To the west of Bob Sandlin is Lake Cypress Springs, AND ALL OF THESE are connected.

There’s really no reason why the nearer portion of the lake would not produce very well once the water temperatures warm up. I would imagine that Monticello is a couple weeks ahead of other North Texas lakes because of the head start they get from the power plant water.

MORE INFORMATION
TPWD Information on Lake Monticello
What Rob Woodruff says about Lake Monticello

EQUIPMENT
Native Ultimate 12 Kayak
TFO BVK 7wt with Lamson Guru reel
TFC made deep Clouser from The Fly Shop
Two part leader 20/8 made of Seaguar Invis-X 100% fluorocarbon

GPS of Monticello LakeClick on this map and overlay it on your map for accurate GPS. Otherwise ask for coordinates in a “comment” and I will dig those out of the data.

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Category: Adventure, Destination Fly Fishing, East Texas, Fishing Reports, Fly Fishing for Largemouth Bass, Paid Reading Content, TECHNICAL, Technique

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

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