Lake Austin is the place to catch giant bass right now
It’s not known as the most popular bass fishing lake in Texas, but truth be known, Lake Austin is an up-and-coming star when it comes to producing 13-pound-plus largemouth bass.
“Lake Austin continued to solidify its ranking as one of the best trophy bass lakes in Texas with Toyota ShareLunker 548, caught March 27 by Round Rock angler Colin Pack while fishing in a tournament,” said Larry Hodge with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.
Hodge reports that Pack caught the fish in 10 feet of water using a Carolina rig while fishing in hydrilla.
“The bass weighed 13.29 pounds and was 26.75 inches long and 20 inches in girth,” said Hodge. “It will be held at the A.E. Wood State Fish Hatchery in San Marcos until the results of DNA testing are known. If the fish is pure Florida largemouth bass, it will be moved to the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center in Athens for spawning.
Lake Austin is on the Colorado River in Austin. It covers 1,599 acres and was impounded in 1939. It contains an excellent population of largemouths. Many bass weighing 8 to 10 pounds are caught each year. The reservoir also has some good quality bluegill, red-breast, and red-ear fishing, and has fair numbers of flathead and blue catfish. Fishing during the spring and summer months is best done at night due to heavy recreational boating activity in the daytime.
The lake record weighed a whopping 16.03 pounds and was caught on Jan. 27, 2011.
Lake Austin contains abundant submerged vegetation like water milfoil and hydrilla. Cover is also provided by the many boat docks that line the shore of the lake. Several major creeks enter the lake including Bee Creek near the Tom Miller Dam and Bull Creek near the Loop 360 bridge crossing.
Here’s the impressive part – Lake Austin has now produced 19 largemouth bass that have been entered into the ShareLunker program. It trails Lake Fork, with 253 entries; Lakes Alan Henry and O. H. Ivie, with 25 each; Sam Rayburn with 23; and Falcon with 20. Lake Conroe has 16 entries and Choke Canyon 13.
Anyone legally catching a 13-pound or bigger largemouth bass from Texas waters, public or private, between Oct. 1 and April 30 may submit the fish to the Toyota ShareLunker program by calling the ShareLunker hotline at (903) 681-0550 or paging (888) 784-0600 and leaving a phone number including area code. Fish will be picked up by TPWD personnel within 12 hours.
New regs set by TPWD on
redfish and catfish
TPWD has adopted fishing regulations that center on redfish and catfish. The regulations go into effect Sept. 1.
TPWD clarified the definition of fish harassment to note that it is unlawful to use any vessel to harry, herd or drive fish by any means including but not limited to operating any vessel in a repeated circular course for the purpose of or resulting in the concentration of fish for the purpose of taking or attempting to take fish.
TPWD also removed prohibitions concerning possession of red drum and bonus red drum tags simultaneously.
“The department also adopted provisions regarding enforcement of federal regulations in state waters,” said Mike Cox. “The proposed change would make it a violation for a person to possess an aquatic wildlife resource taken in the Exclusive Economic Zone (federal waters 9-200 miles out) during a closed season provided by federal law; within a protected length limit or in excess of the daily bag limit established by federal law; or with any gear or device prohibited by federal law; or without a required license or permit required by federal law.”
In regards to catfish, TPWD adopted changes defining the parameters of hand fishing for catfish and restrictions to aid in public understanding and enforceability, specifically regarding prohibition of the use of devices such as poles, sticks, boxes and pipes to aid in hand fishing.
The department also clarified the definition regarding possession of fish to indicate possession limits do not apply once a wildlife resource has reached the possessor’s final residence and is finally processed.
Whooping cranes begin migration back to nesting grounds
Heralding an early start to spring, whooping cranes began breaking camp at wintering grounds in Texas sooner than usual and are making their way back north.
Some of those “non-traditional” whooping cranes also broke with migration tradition this year.
“Normally, whooping crane spring migration begins in late March, with nearly all birds departing for the nesting grounds in Canada by mid-April,” said Lee Ann Johnson Linam, a wildlife diversity biologist with TPWD. “However, a U.S. Geological Survey radio-tracking study and observations by volunteers with Texas Whooper Watch detected an earlier start to migration this year.”
Whoopers usually follow a migratory path through North and Central Texas that includes cities such as Victoria, Austin, Waco, Fort Worth and Wichita Falls. During migration they often pause overnight to use wetlands for roosting and agricultural fields for feeding, but seldom remain more than one night. They nearly always migrate in small groups of fewer than 8 birds, but they may be seen roosting and feeding with large flocks of the smaller sandhill crane. They are the tallest birds in North America, standing nearly 5 feet tall. They are solid white in color except for black wingtips that are visible only in flight. They fly with necks and legs outstretched.