Fall Fishing on Lake Austin

Even though it’s pretty close, I’ve only been to Lake Austin a handful of times. I’m learning more and more about it, but it’s still challenging me. I spent three days there in the past few weeks because I had a tournament there, and I feel like I am just now starting to figure out more about the lake.

My tournament was this past weekend and leading up to it, I spent two days on the water. It was interesting because the tournament site was a mystery until a few days before the event, but I guessed right. The parameters were that the event would be on a lake that wasn’t on the 2023 Media Bass schedule and was within two hours of Austin. My guess was Lake Austin, and I spent one day there before the lake was announced and again the Friday before the event once it became official.

Both of my practice days were rough, and I wouldn’t have had a limit of bass in either one. I had some glimpses of what the lake is capable of with a few solid fish, but I wasn’t sure where to start when the tournament began. My best areas were miles and miles apart and there wasn’t any rhyme or reason to where I was catching them. Some were on flats, some on steep banks, and some right on the shoreline.

One nice one that ate my ChatterBait.

My best bait in practice was a Z-Man Jack Hammer ChatterBait, and I decided to stick with that bait and cover ground. I found one half-mile stretch in the last hour of practice that was key. It had plenty of docks and grass mixed in and plenty of shad swimming around. This was where I was going to start when the tournament began.

The lake is home to quite a few Guadalupe bass.

Tournament day
I ran to my good stretch of docks and immediately started catching fish. I caught my first keeper five minutes into the day and then caught several short fish right after. About a half hour later, I caught two more and decided to keep going down the bank. The bite slowed, and I gave it another hour before making a move. I had three fish in the livewell, but nothing to brag about.

I ran to my second-best area and found boats everywhere. It must have been a popular area because boats were everywhere I wanted to be. I made a quick adjustment and ran across the lake to a bank I had never fished and caught my fourth keeper immediately, again on the ChatterBait.

One crazy part of the day was the weather. It started just about perfect, with temperatures in the 70s, light winds, and overcast skies. Then, the wind and rain came and it poured, while also dropping the temperatures significantly. It was downright freezing after that and the bite was not very good.

I was able to fill out my limit and catch several more short fish, but it wasn’t a great ending to the day, and I weighed in around 9 pounds of bass, 5 pounds back of the winner.

Overall, it was a fun day of fishing and turned out about as well as I expected. I caught plenty of fish, just not the fish I would need to have a shot at cashing a check there. Luckily, I have several more events lined up this winter on the lake, and I’ll have a shot at redemption.

Here’s a video from my first-ever trip to the lake last fall.

Lake Whitney Was Tough!

Even with all of my travel for work, I fished enough of the Media Bass Individual tournaments this year to qualify for the championship. It was held last weekend on Lake Whitney outside of Waco. I’d never been there but decided to enter the event and see what I could do.

I made one trip a few weeks before the tournament to spend a day driving around the lake and then spent two days practicing for the event. In all those three fishing days, I didn’t have a limit worth of bass total. It was pretty rough.

Even though I didn’t have much luck with keeper bass, I caught quite a few shorts and a handful of catfish and stripers. My confidence wasn’t too high going into the event, but I narrowed my areas to just a few spots. During my scouting, I covered the entire lake and up into the river and never saw too many places that excited me.

A view of Lake Whitney

The lake is low, with no grass, and most of the lake appears dead right now, with no life outside of gar swimming around. I found a handful of areas with schooling activity in the morning and plenty of shad, and I decided to stick with those three areas for the entire event and it paid off with a 4th place finish on a very tough fishery.

Day 1
The first day, I went to an area where I had caught several short fish and saw stripers blowing up shad everywhere near a marina the morning before. I knew there were baitfish in the area, which was a good enough reason to start there.

Right away, I caught a keeper smallmouth on a 2.8-inch Keitech swimbait and added two more on a drop-shot rig. I caught a few more shorts and had three keepers in the boat fairly quickly, which was much better than I expected. Then things started to subside and there was a lot less activity and I knew it was time to move to my next spot around 9:00.

The first keeper smallmouth of the day

Let me back up first. The day before, on a brutal day of fishing, I ventured into the back of a creek and to a small cut and saw tons of shad swimming around. I caught a striper and a solid 4.54lb bass on a drop-shot. It was practice, and I wish I hadn’t caught that one, but it told me the area had potential. So I went there anyway and caught two solid keepers right away. After things slowed, I left, returned a few hours later, and caught another to increase my weight and cull up.

My “mistake” from practice

At the end of the day, I went to a windblown bank with birds everywhere and culled once again on a small jerkbait, a Megabass X-80 Trick Darter. I’m usually always throwing the Vision 110, but the shad I saw were tiny and that was the smallest jerkbait I had with me.

After that final cull, it was time to head back in and see how I did. My 11.02lbs had me in 3rd, less than a half pound out of the lead, on a day when many anglers struggled to catch fish. I was shocked to be that high in the standings and had a lot of hope for the next day.

Two from my limit

Day 2
I contemplated my strategy the night before and decided to repeat the same rotation, trying to get a few quick keepers before moving on. I started by the marina and it was dead. No stripers, no shad, nothing at all. I gave it an hour and caught two short fish and that was it.

Then, I went to the back of the creek spot and saw fish blowing up everywhere when I got there. I made a cast to the activity with my Lucky Craft Gunfish and hooked up on one over three pounds, but lost it right by the boat. The loss was brutal, considering how tough the fishing was, but I shook it off and kept going without any luck.

I went and fished the two other spots and struck out before returning to the creek again and catching my lone keeper for the day on a drop shot around 11:00. That fish wasn’t even two pounds, but it was important as it kept me from dropping lower than 4th place. After that, I fished all my spots, including returning to the creek later and never caught another keeper.

Overall, I can’t complain about the week. I cashed a check on a brutal fishery during one of the most challenging months of the year to fish. I know the lake has more potential, and I hope to fish it again someday, but hopefully when the fish are biting a little better.

Fishing Canyon Lake, TX with Low Water

After moving to Wimberley a few months ago, Canyon Lake has become my new home lake, mainly because it’s the closest one. As fate would have it, it’s at a record low right now and the boat ramps keep closing and we’re down to just three that are usable as I’m typing this. Even with the low water, I’ve made it out three times and even fished two tournaments and overall, I like the lake and how it sets up.

Low water makes launching a boat a little more difficult.

Even with the low water, the bass are still biting and the lake appears healthy with a good amount of hydrilla and plenty of trees to hold bass. Every bass I’ve caught out there looks good and although I have yet to tap into the big ones, I’ve had success every time I’ve been there and you can get a lot of bites just about anywhere you go.

My first trip to Canyon was back in May, and this was the first time I had seen the lake before the event, which is not a recommended way to fish a tournament. I had signed up for the event when it was set for Lake Buchanan, but they moved that one due to low water, and I was out of town the week before the tournament and didn’t get to pre-fish the new venue. My results showed as I only caught four small keepers, but it was good to fish the lake and begin my process of learning it.

A view of just how low the water is right now.

I’ve fished it twice in the past week to learn it even more. Once was just for fun, and the other was for a small half-day tournament. Both times, the fish were plentiful, just nothing to write home about in terms of big ones. The tournament had a three-fish limit and the winners had over 13 pounds, which shows what the lake is capable of. My limit weighed less than half that, so I have some work to do to compete here.

In all of my trips, a drop-shot rig has been a great way to get a bite and it makes sense since the lake reminds me a lot of the lakes I grew up fishing in Nevada, Mead and Mohave. The water is generally clear and you can target many of the same rocks, bluffs, and other structure that I used to fish back in Las Vegas years ago.

One of many fish that fell for a drop-shot rig.

Finesse fishing with a drop-shot with a Roboworm has easily been my best tactic so far, and I’ve found that Canyon has quite the population of smallmouth in addition to the largemouth. I have yet to catch any monster smallmouth, but I have learned the lake has some big ones, and I’m hoping to run into a few of them this fall and winter.

The other best bait for me thus far has been a Z-Man Jack Hammer ChatterBait, which works for me everywhere I go. I’ve found a lot of success fishing the grass edges and the backs of drains or cuts that have a little bit of grass and it’s something I’ve been able to replicate all over the lake as I explore this new body of water and try to see every corner of it.

The ChatterBait catches them on Canyon Lake.

I’ll be fishing this lake more and more in the coming months and hope to learn more about it and share more about what’s working. While the low water changes things, it’s all new to me right now, so none of my best areas are high and dry like those that have fished here for years. I’m hoping for more rain like the rest of us, but I will keep fishing Canyon Lake as much as possible in the meantime. The plus side is that there’s less water, so the fish should be more congregated now, right?