Texoma Fish Fry & The Week Ahead

| August 22, 2010

The fishing at Texoma Friday evening and Saturday morning left a lot to be desired, and also left me paddling away with a few questions.

We holed up at the Eisenhower State Park Friday evening in a super deluxe pop-up trailer graciously towed and popped by fellow fisher Chris Weatherley (CW). Once home base was established, we set out in our kayaks to fish, wait and watch for any surface striper action along the old riverbed – Texas side.

I conserved my energy, and mostly reclined in my boat and watched. What can I say? I like to see stripers to catch stripers, either that or KNOW that there’s actually a chance for catching by seeing someone catch or … electronics. The other two kayaks were loaded with electronics, and they were seeing plenty of bait and plenty of fish.

The problems were, one – the fish weren’t herding bait, and, two – that resulted in no surface action – anywhere in any visible direction. It really is easy enough to tell what’s going on without any electronics whatsoever. If you see boats, fishing boats and guide boats, there’s fish. That’s really how simple it is – to actually find fish.

Our third fisher managed to catch an average striper Friday night, and he began to immediately suspect that something was up. “It didn’t fight like a striper. It just took hold and I reeled it in. I released it, and it didn’t tailsplash me and speed off,” he said. Instead, it just continued to swim around him for several minutes and drifted off.

We went in about dark, had freshly grilled fajitas and fresh cold refreshments, and got a wild hare to go out and fish the dark. So, about ten, we paddled out and glommed onto some of the pier lights and hit the marina. I made my way out to the edge of the “Fina Marina” (not sure what it’s called but that Fina sign is a great landmark). I was hoping to look east and see blitzes on the points, but all was calm by the moonlight, all the way to the dam.

Back in the marina, there were apparently a group of women from the Texas Women Fly Fishers who were putting everything to the test under the brightest lights there. In paddle-by conversation we learned they were having no more luck than anyone else.

We did find a school of juvenile stripers circling aimlessly near the Fina sign, and caught a couple there with the only real goal to get the skunk stink off us.

There was a sound as we slowly awoke for our morning assault. It was the wind. When you are kayaking, and there’s a discernible wind before sunrise, it really is time to think about loading the kayak and going home to mow the yard in 105-degree heat because odds are, you’re going to get just about the same amount of pleasure from either experience.

We loaded and cruised out of the cove (tailwind), and started east to hit the points along the way to H. Ross Perot’s house. I am convinced CW thinks Ross is going to walk out on that huge lawn someday, look down on CW in that tiny boat, and shout, “Son! My long lost son!,” and CW’s life will be forever changed. Actually, CW had an unforgettable experience on that spot and he’s always looking to Perot’s shoreline for another home run ball.

Along the way to Ross’ place, I pulled all the way into a cove that had so much bait in it, that you could see it stirring in the shallows. As I cruised in, I saw more small stripers hanging in about a foot of water. I paddled right by them and beached. Strange. The situation was made for fly rod fodder, so I put on a crawfish imitation (we had been seeing crawfish by the hundreds) and cast right on stripers circling in the shallows. There were no takers in this fish tank, so I quickly changed flies to a smaller shallow Clouser. I caught about a half dozen fish that took like a tree branch, and laid on their side to be stripped in and released. Strange. The released fish continued to swim around me in an exact repeat of Friday’s behavior. All fish caught were skinny, and many had red “lesions”. I’ve caught plenty of stripers with those red marks, but never so many on the same trip.

Yet another cove was lined with dead stripers of all sizes. Some of the carrion was being feasted on by bold buzzards that probably haven’t had it so good in awhile. I would estimate there were several dozen dead fish in various stages of decomposition. And, as we fished points, a parade of dead stripers passed slowly by on the current – west to east. There didn’t seem to be anything extraordinary about the two or three boats with fishermen aboard, so apparently the mortality rate for releases, is currently way above average. Until now, my experience with stripers had shown them to be extremely vibrant and strong survivors.

I have yet to talk to TPWD scientists, but then again there may not be a need to talk to them. They probably have better things to do anyway. I am guessing that the extended period of warm water is beginning to tilt the mortality rate, and cause some of the strange behavior patterns we experienced this weekend. Zebra mussels were also readily visible on rocks on the points as well. Texoma lake levels are dropping precipitously. If any of you civilians know what the story is on Texoma, inquiring minds want to know …

I did catch a few stripers off a point near the Spillway Boat Ramp, and even caught a very nice sand bass that did fight better than any of the larger stripers I caught that day. By eleven, I was ready to pack it in, and head back … against a near gale force wind from the south. OK, not quite gale force, but a steady twenty to twenty-five, and wake boarders who had absolutely no respect for kayakers, made it an interesting, if not torturous, return journey.

IF YOU GO
– Conventional fishers will still probably do quite well at depth, and we did see an armada of boats across the lake near the sandy shores of the Oklahoma side, but remember that Texoma can behave like an ocean at times, and seems almost as big as an ocean at times too.

– High visibility for kayakers is a must, and even then, you will get little respect from the weekend warriors who think the own the calm waters where you will be paddling for shelter from the winds.

– Launch kayaks over by the marina, and get a campsite on Armadillo Hill | shuttle cars and kayaks | park kayaks on the marina side of the peninsula

– Take all precautions to prevent the spread of zebra mussels.

– You may want to purchase an Oklahoma license so you don’t have to worry about where you find fish (see my blogroll for link)

Eisenhower State Park

THE WEEK AHEAD
Still working to bring you the most interesting events loosely wrapped inside a two week trip to Colorado. I will probably have to get a carp fix when the temperatures drop from 105 to 95, leaving them on the flats a little longer. Anyone interested in going along?

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Category: Fishing Reports, kayaking, North Texas, On The Road

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