Just as Bad Here as There

| July 3, 2011

I am back from a brief trip down I-45 to The Woodlands, Texas, and after taking a long look at the northern reaches of Lake Conroe, I can tell readers the drought is just as bad here near Houston as it is everywhere else.

That doesn’t take away from the fact that Conroe has beautiful characteristics, I did catch one largemouth, on the edge of a channel which anyone can easily now stand dry, and there are some sizable spooky carp there as well (I never got a real, clean shot at one though).

I parked just past the 1375 bridge on the northern end of the lake and dropped in to do some recon. on a lake that’s about 40 miles up the road from The Woodlands, after hearing the northern areas had shallows that were wading distance from the road, and that fly fishing was a possibility.

The water on Lake Conroe has receded to such a measure in the Summer of 2011, that prop scars leading through what were once islands, look like well worn grooves in a Texas dirt road. They made me curious at first, but I put two-and-two together after realizing where the waterline once was, and where it is now. Take four feet of the top of Lake Conroe, and in this area, fifty feet of new shoreline, and hundreds of yards of flats are high and dry.

One good thing about aging, slowly dying really, is that some of my less important senses can be relied on not to perform as they once did. My sense of smell, probably diminished significantly, could not pick up the muck, mire and slime that coated water quickly receding from the newborn flats. Add dead fish at regular intervals, cracked and eaten freshwater clams (more on that in a minute), and you have anything but a good Spanish Pallella.

The shoreline was plowed along the inland flats, from the waterline to about ten yards back from the waterline. Feral hogs.

Shallow tailing carp, grey instead of gold, were lazily cruising the shallow flats in small numbers, and great size – six to eight pounds at least. There wasn’t a human footprint to be found, but these fish were spooked at thirty feet each and every time.

Rather than muck through the middle of the shallow indentations, I walked around on the freshly plowed sand and mud that was so consistently worn that it had turned to the quality of the Del Mar horse track. My progress came to a skidding stop when at the next lagoon, in direct path of about five more minutes walk, were three feral hogs basking in the sun, rolling in the mud, and generally having a grand time. The played like children on South Padre Island, rolling around, jumping on top of each other and pinning the other upside down to the ground. I looked away and back. My eyes weren’t deceiving me.

For a minute I visualized a beach umbrella, beach ball, shovel and pail among these cloven hoofed mentally insane creatures. The Fourth-of-July weekend on Lake Conroe, Texas, was being celebrated by its most numerous residents – feral hogs … in broad daylight.

I decided 400 yards was a good distance from me to the beach loving, sun tanning, curly tail wagging wild hogs was just about right. I stopped and pursued carp that were close, switched over to rattle eye Clousers when some bass signs were miraculously present, but mostly, totally nothing other than a baby largemouth looking to grow by eating a Clouser half its size. I threw everything at the carp, but the inert bottom they cruised didn’t lend a hand in figuring out what they were eating, and looking back a case could be made that they weren’t eating at all – just cruising.

The hogs must have finally run out of beverages, or sunscreen for their white meat, and were gone. I went from looking for carp, to plying the edge of a channel that was clearly holding bait and top hitting largemouth of smaller proportions. It was a good setup for someone with the time to work it. The channels are clearly defined, and with the low water, they are right there for you to stand on the edge and plow the deep with an intermediate or full sink line. What worked for me (before having to leave) was a black/black deep Clouser on one of the now famous 60-degree jig hooks with a medium strip.

I made my way back through some of the channels between islands that are now high and dry roads leading back to the bridge road. I imagined this area with water, and it will have water again someday. This area, with water, on a kayak, plying these inlets and channels – there’s going to be some great fishing here whenever the rains allow it. And that’s when we will get back to Lake Conroe and do justice to this beautiful example of an East Texas lake.

MAP OF LAKE CONROE TEXAS from TPWD
STATE RECORDS LAKE CONROE TEXAS
SAM HOUSTON NATIONAL FOREST
General information on Lake Conroe / Lake Livingston / Sam Houston National Forest

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Category: East Texas, Fishing Reports

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

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