As residents of Grayson County, we are fortunate to have one of the most unique fisheries in the state of Texas in our own backyard. The body of water that I am referring to of course is Lake Texoma. What sets this lake apart from other Lone Star lakes is the abundance of smallmouth bass living in its water.
When people talk about fishing in Texas, visions of shallow, stump filled reservoirs with ten plus pound largemouth come to mind. However, Lake Texoma offers anglers the chance to catch what many consider to be hardest fighting fish in freshwater.
So what makes this species of bass so interesting? Smallmouth bass are indigenous to the Eastern United States and Canada and prefer a cool, rocky and clear water environment. The Texas heat will not allow smallmouth to survive in the numerous ponds and stock tanks that most of us fished as children. Therefore, most Texans have never had the opportunity to hook into one of these brown bass. Plus, a two pound smallmouth will pull as hard as a five pound largemouth, and I promise that I’ve hooked into one that leaped five feet out of the water.
In the years of 1981-1987 Texas Parks and Wildlife stocked smallmouth bass fry and fingerlings into Lake Texoma. Because of its deep, cool water and miles of rocky shoreline, smallmouth bass have thrived. Since this time, there have been several trophy smallies taken from its water.
So what makes a trophy smallmouth? Unlike their largemouth cousin, smallmouth bass typically do not reach the same size. While the ten pound mark signifies a trophy largemouth, a six pound smallie is considered a prize. Lake Texoma offers anglers an exclusive chance at one of these treasures. Plus, three, four and five pound smallmouth are becoming common.
The two lake records came within the last decade. The Oklahoma record, 7.80 pounds, was caught by Aaron Fidrich on March 22, 2003. The fish was taken on crank-bait in the mid-lake region of Texoma. The Texas record, 7.06 pounds, was caught by Jay Fuller on January 29, 2006. According to the Texas Parks and Wildlife report this smallmouth was caught with a jig in 20 feet of water on the bluff banks outside of Eisenhower Marina.
Winter and early spring seem to be the best times to target trophy smallmouth on Lake Texoma. Because they spawn in cooler water than largemouth, the colder months are preferred by smallmouth enthusiasts. Prime areas include the lower end of the lake around Eisenhower State Park and Ross Perot’s property. Butterfly Cove features some of the deepest water in the lake and is also an excellent location. On the Oklahoma side, the rocky banks from Washita Point to Caney Creek offer great smallmouth habitat.
Jigging spoons and bass jigs fished around boulders and bluff-wall drop-offs are best utilized in the winter. As spring arrives and the smallmouth move up to spawn, one of the best techniques is swimming a weightless Zoom Super Fluke in and around the shoreline rock and gravel.
Though January through March is best for trophy smallies, one of the most consistent patterns on the lake occurs in the summer time. As the sunsets and night falls, the crawfish come out from under their shallow-water rocks and the smallmouth follow. A black and blue jig or a black spinner-bait worked along the bank will produce some vicious strikes. If you think smallies jump high in the day time, their night-time leaps can be almost frightening. Lake Texoma has few under-water obstructions so navigation at night is easier than on most lakes.
Though there are a few other lakes in our state that contain smallmouth bass, Lake Texoma might just offer the best chance in catching one. The excellent habitat and forage base of crawfish and shad allow for a large population of these fish to be sustained.