Thursday, September 4, 2014

Lake Buchanan Striper Fishing

Jason's granddaughter and the days catch
 
 
Now that I am supposed to be retired I hope to get my boat in
 shape and get out on the area lakes to chase fish.  It has been
 many years since I used to fish Lake Buchanan so I have been
hanging out over at the Austin Bass Fishing Forum to catch up
on the latest techniques.  One of the members of the forum
has agreed to be my guest author this week with a how to for
those of you that would like to chase stripers and hybrids on
your favorite lake.  Jason has put together an article that will
teach you how to be successful on your next outing.  Hope you
enjoy it, I sure did. Wild Ed

 
 STRIPER FISHING
  
Lake Buchanan is one of the best lakes in Central Texas to
catch stripers and hybrid stripers.  Stripers are a salt water fish
that can live and grow in fresh water but they will not
reproduce, they are all stocked in the lake by the Texas Parks
and Wildlife.  Hybrids are a cross breed of a striper and a
white bass.  These fish will also not reproduce and they are
stocked in the lake by TPW and the professional guides that
fish and make their living on Lake Buchanan.  Hybrids will
not get near as big as the stripers but are just as enjoyable to
catch!  There are not many Texas fresh water fish that will put
up a fight like a striper; we are talking about pole bending
drag squealing kind of fight! 

So let’s talk about how to catch these fighting giants:

(Lake Buchanan record striper 41” over 27 lbs)

Stripers and hybrids will bite on just about anything if your timing
is right, but their food of choice is shad!  Early morning you might
see schools of fish chasing shad to the surface splashing around, at
this point they will bite almost anything you throw into the feeding
frenzy – white,  or shiny works best – try not to let your lure sink
too deep (and don’t be afraid to throw live bait into the middle
either).

The easiest way to catch fish would be to hire a guide and let him
use his knowledge to put you on the fish.  Expect to pay about $450
with tip for a 4hr 4 person fishing trip which includes the cleaning
of your fish.  You will usually meet your guide at 7 am, but you can
also schedule afternoon trips.   That being said there are no
guarantees that you will catch your limit (5 per person, and they
must be above 18 inches long)  – and if you limit out in 45 minutes,
you will be done fishing and heading back to the dock by 8:30

Hiring a guide not your thing? Want to try it yourself? 

We will start with the best but not the easiest method first.  It
begins with waking up about the time the bars are closing (2:15 am
for me) heading to the store to buy ice and red bull energy drinks
to stay awake.  Driving for 2 hours with my eyes constantly

scanning for the road side deer whose only intention is to ruin my

fishing trip!  I usually arrive where I launch my boat about 5 am

After a short boat ride we drop a green light in the water.  A bait

tank is a must to keep your shad health and lively.  Your tank must

provide circulation, aeration, and filtration and being insulated is a

bonus. 
 
An Internet search will provide you information how to make one
for under $75 that will work but not well in hot weather.  Bait
Jacuzzi makes a nice 18 gallon tank for under $250 shipped that
works very well!  Bait tanks like the professional guides use will
run you about $600 and up but the weekender can get by with a
much less expensive tank.  Fill your tank with water and add 1 cup
of salt per 10 gallons of water, maybe some ice if the water is
above 75 degrees, now you’re ready!  Grab your cast net and start
throwing.   Sometimes you can catch the right bait easily in 10 to
15 throws, other times you will throw the net until you think your
arm might fall off!  Just know it is worth it!  I will usually keep and
assortment of different size shad as sometimes they like the big
5-6” shad and other times the much smaller ones, better to have
and not need, than need and not have!  Don’t put your shad directly

into your bait tank if at all possible, let them swim in a bucket
first and then use a dip net to transfer them to the tank.  Once they
are caught they will urinate and defecate and you want to let that
happen before you move them to your clean water   (I have 2 bait
tanks that I use, one built into my boat and the other an 18 gallon
Bait Jacuzzi, in hind sight I wish I had bought the 26 gallon Bait
Jacuzzi tank)

       If waking up early and catching of shad is not your thing
 you can always buy jumbo minnows and perch which will catch
fish but not nearly as well as Shad.

     Now you have bait, it’s time to go fishing!  The equipment I
use is bait caster rod and reels with 20lb line, 3/4oz weight, swivel,
and #2 circle hooks (circle hooks can help the fish from becoming
gut hooked in case it is not a keeper)  At Lake Buchanan anywhere
from the dam to about 3 miles down the lake are good hunting
areas.  Your hunting will be much easier with electronics.  Sonar
and a chart plotter that you understand and know how to use will
make you much more successful!  Look for the fish on top of
underwater humps near the deeper river channel (right now 30-35
foot of water is where I am finding them).  Hook your shad
through the nostrils for best results, drop them to the bottom
and reel up 3 to 5 turns to start with, watch your sonar to get the
right depth where the fish are as they swim through.   Most of the
time the fish are much more active on cloudy days with decent
winds, yet I have caught plenty of fish on no wind, sunny,
extremely hot days!  If your bait dies put on a live one, check them
every 10 minutes or so – dead bait will work, but once again not a
well as lively shad

Lake Buchanan has a tremendous amount of blue cats that are only
about 10 inches long that love to kill and eat your shad.  It is very
easy to tell the differences between catfish and striper bites.  A
catfish will nibble and tug at your lines while a striper or hybrid
will bend your pole straight down to the water in one bite.  If
you’re getting nothing but catfish bites, it’s time to move, they will
kill all of your bait in a short amount of time!  Once you get that
striper to bite (and you are using circle hooks) don’t try to set the
hook, simply leave the rod in the rod holder and reel up about 5
times rapidly before you remove the pole form the holder.  (A
rapid pull using a circle hook will pull the hook right out of their
mouth!)  When you hook that first one be ready, they are schooling
fish and usually when there is one there are more!

Once you have your limit, keep them on ice until you’re ready to
clean them.  There a many ways to clean a fish and with stripers or
hybrid there is no wrong way,  unless you like fishy tasting fish you
need to remove the red meat that runs along the spine.  If you do
that you will end up with an amazing piece of fish that can be
grilled, blackened, or cooked any way you like.

Labor Day weekend 2014 was a great fishing weekend for me!

Saturday:

We got there at 5am – caught shad easily and were heading to catch
fish by 6:15.

Conditions – calm very little breeze, sunny, not a cloud in the sky

We arrived at one of my spots just as the sun came up.  Along with
the rising sun the top water action came alive.  I was throwing a pet
spoon that had about a 2’ leader attached to a casting float so I
could really toss it out there.  My friend was using an umbrella rig
to start with and then a large floating lure; he caught fish with both
types of lures.  We both caught 3-5 fish but only one keeper.  Once
the top water stopped, we then switched to live bait and proceeded
to catch lots of undersize fish mixed in with the keepers and my
 biggest striper to date a 28”  just shy of 7 pounds.  We left the lake
 about 12:30 one fish short of our limit as with no breeze it was
miserably hot.  Fish today liked large shad 5” or bigger.  We found
another boat and gave them all of our left over live shad as I
always do!
Jason's Big Fish
Sunday:

Arrived at the lake at 5 am, shad was not as easy to catch the size
 we were looking for, but by dawn we had more than enough.
 
Conditions – constant 8 mph wind and 95% cloud cover until 8:30
 
am  (perfect conditions)

We arrived at the same spot as Saturday a little after sun up – we
saw no top water action so we decided to use the shad. The 2nd fish
 I caught was a 26” Hybrid that weighed 7.22 lbs. (the record
hybrid for Lake Buchanan is 24.5”, by the way that is still the
record, because I filleted and grilled that bad boy knowing that it
was a record fish and not caring to go through all it takes to certify
a record fish on a holiday weekend)  By 8:30am we were one short
of our limit and the clouds were going away.  By 9 am the cooler
was full and we decided to do some sonar exploring which yielded
about 7 more keeper size fish that were returned to the lake
unharmed.  The fish today wanted small to medium shad.  Before
we left found another boat and gave them all of our left over live
shad!

I have been fishing Lake Buchanan for the last 2 years and I am
addicted to it!  I hope this will help some of y’all get hooked up on
some good fun……………and hey, take a child with you, show
them there are fun things to do outside away from a TV and an
 Xbox

 

And for safety – before heading out to Lake Buchanan check the
winds anything over 15 mph will make this lake dangerous for
small boats.  White caps happen at 10 mph and huge waves at 15
mph!

Stay safe and reel ‘em in

Jason Weisberg
 
Jason and some good Buchanan Stripers

2 comments:

Scimitar Oryx Hunting said...

Wow! Those are great catches! I miss the times when me and my family went fishing. I still fish but I often do it with friends. Those pictures bring back memories. Thanks for sharing!

Chris Ceykovsky said...

I also bought a bait jacuzzi and it worked okay, but I knew I was missing something - apparently I was not putting anywhere near enough salt in. Curious, how long have you been able to keep shad alive in yours? (Assuming filters get cleaned, salt and ice are added as well)