Self-chartered Freshwater Fishing Trips


Randy Rowley hosts several self-chartered freshwater fishing trips on central Texas lakes within 100 miles of his home in Leander.  He primarily targets largemouth bass but can also go after crappie, white bass, hybrids/stripers, and catfish, so he recommends to bring at least one light rod/reel combo (for reel type, line, and lure recommendations see the bottom of this web page).

Do not expect limits on these fishing trips, as Randy has a full-time job, isn’t a guide, fishes on weekends or state of Texas holidays (usually), and fished on highly pressured lakes.  However, they often have some success, including:

Randy will fish either Lakes Travis, Bastrop, Fayette, Decker, Stillhouse Hollow, Belton, Lady Bird, Austin, Somerville, Buchanan, a river, such as the San Gabriel off of Lake Granger, or a creek, such as Yegua Creek off of Lake Somerville during the white bass run.  He can take up to two fishermen if fishing with lures (three if we’re fishing with live of dead bait or jigging with slabs).  Trips will usually be six to ten hours, counting travel time, unless the fish are biting well, in which case they may decide to fish later, or if they’re not biting well or at all, in which case they may decide to quit earlier.

They will fish out of Cam – Randy’s 20′ 3″ 2019 Excel Bay Pro 203 with a 115 HP Yamaha motor, an 80 lb. thrust trolling motor, and two fish finders (unless we’re fishing a river or creek during the white bass run, in which case they’ll be on foot).  Randy usually has at least one of these trips a month during non-duck hunting months (February through September), but will not guarantee a set number of times.

Decker and Bastrop have 14″ – 21″ slot limits, which allows you to keep up to five bass under 14″ or up to four bass under 14″ and one bass over 21″.  Any bass between 14″ – 21″ must be returned to the water.  The reason that the authorities have slot limits is those lakes are small and; therefore, can easily be depleted of bass.  Slot limits ensure that there will be a lot of 1 1/2 – 5 lb. bass for people to catch.  Fayette has a 16″ – 24″ slot limit for the same reason (any bass between 16″ – 24″ must be returned to the water).  Its slot limit ensures that there will be a lot of 2 – 7 lb. bass for people to catch.


  • The participants (excluding Randy, if Cam is being used) will split the vehicle and boat gas (the amount depends on the distance traveled and the number of people sharing the gas), state or county park fees (if applicable), boat launch fees (if applicable), and toll road fees (if applicable).  Randy has to replace Cam’s batteries, trailer tires and wheel bearings, etc., and repair things like Cam’s trolling motor more quickly due to taking FCS members and guests on such trips than he would if didn’t take FCS members and guests on such trips, and pay boat and trailer insurance; therefore, he’s exempt from the above expenses.  If Randy isn’t bringing Cam, the expenses will be split evenly among the participants.
  • We might stop at Whataburger on the way to the lake and will probably stop for brunch on the way home.
  • Fishermen can use artificial lures and/or buy live and/or dead bait.  The default is artificial lures.  Everyone in the boat must agree how we will fish before we get to the lake as people who want to fish with lures will become frustrated if Cam isn’t moving often, people who want to fish with live bait will become frustrated if Cam is moving (as movement will drown their bait), and people who want to fish with dead bait will also become frustrated if Cam is moving.

What to Bring:

  • Freshwater fishing license.
  • Rod & Reel combos (at least two in case you break one and no more than five).
  • Lures and/or terminal tackle for fishing with live and/or dead bait.
  • Tackle box, bag, or backpack.
  • Headlamp or cap light (waterproof is recommended).
  • Cap/hat (optional) and clothing appropriate for the season.  You never know when it will rain, so bring rain gear.
  • Drinks and snacks (optional; drinks are highly recommended).  There are storage compartments in Cam to put your drinks and snacks in.
  • Sunglasses (optional, but highly recommended).
  • Bug repellent (optional, but recommended)
  • Sunscreen (optional, but experts recommend it)
  • A fillet knife, knife sharpener, gallon-sized Ziploc bag, and a medium-sized hard or soft ice chest, if fish are kept (Randy usually returns largemouth bass to the water; there will be a large ice chest on Cam to put your drinks in and storage compartments to put your snacks in; leave your ice chest in your vehicle).
  • Water shoes or waders (if the water is cold) to help put Cam back on his trailer.

Randy has seven life jackets and three ponchos in Cam, so you won’t need either one.  However, you can bring your own if you want to.

Randy has extras of many of the items that are listed above and will happily loan things if you let him know that you would like to borrow something before we leave.  Of course, if you borrow something and break or lose it I will expect reimbursement, including lures that were borrowed and lost or broken.


These fishing trips are a service to FCS members and guests, but Randy will enforce the below expectations:

  • Follow Randy’s instructions and abide by the FCS Bylaws Regarding Conduct.
  • Pay your fair share of truck and boat gas and park entrance fees/boat launch fees.
  • Pay for items (that are not yours) that you broke or lost (including lures that you borrowed and broke or lost).
  • Help (including helping get Cam back on his trailer).
  • Be prepared to fish (if Randy or others must help you rig properly while on the boat, it takes away from their fishing time).  This does not apply to new fishermen.
  • Talk quietly (fish can hear you and will swim away from the noise).
  • Show up.
  • Be on time.
  • Don’t have a pattern of canceling at the last minute.
  • Read Randy’s emails and don’t ask questions that have already been answered in his emails (and you would have known the answers if you had read his emails).
  • Return Randy’s phone calls and/or emails, if he asks a question or asks you to acknowledge something.

Let Randy know at (his preference) or at 512-922-2484 if you have any questions.

Lure recommendations for Bass

Topwaters – walk-the-dog zigzag lures like River2Sea’s Rover, Lucky Craft’s Sammy and Gunfish, Heddon’s Zara Spook and Zara Spook Jr., Xcalibur’s Spittin’ Image, and Rapala’s Skitter V; poppers like Heddon’s Chugger Spook and Hula Popper, Storm’s Rattlin’ Chug Bug, and Rebel’s Pop-R; torpedo lures like River2Sea’s Whopper Plopper and Heddon’s Baby Torpedo; and Buzz baits like Booyah’s Buzz Clacker.  Colors – bass, shad, chartreuse, bone, and clear.  For lakes with a lot of grass (such as Bastrop, Decker, and Fayette) you can add frog-colored soft plastic frogs such as River2Sea’s Phat Mat Daddy, Bully Wa II, and Spittin’ Wa, Lunkerhunt’s Lunker Frog, Strike King’s KVD Sexy Frogs, American Baitworks’ Scum Frog Bigfoot, Scum Dog, and Scum Frog Popper, and toad style baits such as Stanley’s Ribbits.

Lipless crankbaits – Rapala’s Rippin’ Rap and Rattlin’ Rapala, Xcalibur’s Xr75 or Xr50, Strike King’s Red Eye Shad, 6th Sense’s Quake 70, 80, and THUD and Snatch 70X, Berkley’s Warpig, BOOYAH’s One Knocker, Yo-Zuri’s Rattl’n Vibe and 3DB Vibe, and Bill Lewis’ Rat-L-Trap.  Colors – bass, shad, perch, red (best in spring), and chartreuse (best in the summer).

Crankbaits – Norman’s Deep Little N and Little N, Strike King’s Pro-Model 3XD and 3XD, Rapala’s DT-10, DT-8, DT-6, Scatter Rap, and Shad Rap, 6th Sense’s Crush 250 MD, Curve 55, and Cloud 9 C6 and C10, Bomber’s Flat A, 5A, and 6A, Bandit’s 100, 200 and 300 Series, and Storm’s Wiggle Wart.  Use the same colors as the lipless crankbaits.

Deep diving crankbaits – Norman’s DD-22, Bomber’s Deep Fat Free Shad and Fat Free Shad, Strike King’s 5XD, 6XD, 8XD, and 10XD, and 6th Sense’s Cloud 9 C15, C20, and C25 and Crush 300DD and 500DD.  Use the same colors as the lipless crankbaits.

Square bill crankbaits – River2Sea’s Biggy Poppa, Strike King’s KVD 2.5, Rapala’s Crankin’ Rap 03, Storm’s Arashi, Spro’s Little John, Zoom’s W.E.C. E-1, E-2 and E-3, Luck-E-Strike’s Rick Clunn RC2, 6th Sense’s Fishing Crush 50X and Cloud 9 Magnum Squarebill, Yo-Zuri’s 3DB, BOOYAH’s XCS Series, and Rebel’s Bluegill.  Use the same colors as the lipless crankbaits.

Jerk baits (stick baits) – Bomber’s Long A, Rapala’s Husky Jerk and X-Rap, Smithwick’s Rattlin’ Rogue, and Storm’s Thunderstick.  Same colors as the crankbaits.

Spinnerbaits/chatterbaits (aka bladed swim jigs and vibrating jigs) – white, yellow, chartreuse, combo white/yellow or white/chartreuse, watermelon (green), red (in the spring), and black/blue or black/red when it’s dark or there is a heavy overcast.  I prefer spinnerbaits with two blades over one.  The type is not that important but I tend to prefer the Colorado blade, as they dive deeper.  Spinnerbait brands include River2Sea, Nichols, Strike King, BOOYAH, Terminator, and War Eagle.  Chatterbait brands include Z-man, Strike King, BOOYAH, and Terminator.  Spinnerbaits on steroids include Umbrella/Alabama rigs.

Slabs/spoons – 1/2 – 1 1/2 ounce in white, silver, chartreuse, or combos of those colors.  These are particularly good for white bass, hybrids, stripers along steep rocky ledges.

Soft plastics (usually will only attract largemouth bass – not whites, hybrids, or stripers) – Zoom’s finesse worms, flukes, crawdads, lizards, or baby brush hogs, Berkley’s power worms, crawdads, or lizards, Gary Yamamoto’s Senko and Swimming Senko worms, Yum Dinger’s worms, Big Bite worms and grubs, Grandebass’s rattlesnakes, and Blakemore’s Road Runner with grub tails.  Colors depend on the time of year and such things as if it’s overcast or sunny.  The general rule is darker colors work best when it’s overcast and during the winter.  Lighter colors work best in the fall, spring, and summer and when it’s sunny.  Some of Randy’s favorite colors include Green Pumpkin, Watermelon, Watermelon Red, June Bug, Red Bug, Red Shad, Motor Oil, Pumpkinseed, Dark Blue, and Camo.  Zoom’s Baby Brushhog in pumpkinseed is a good choice for Travis in the fall.  Lizards and crawdads in pumpkinseed are good in the spring.  Soft swimbaits are good in the grass.

Lure Recommendations for Crappie (also good for white bass)

Crappie jigs (1/16, 1/8, or 1/4 ounce and crappie grubs such as the Bobby Garland Mo’Glo (glow-in-the-dark) 2″ Baby Shad or Hyper Grub in Ghost Sparkle or Ghastly Minnow).

Spinners – Blakemore’s Road Runner (the grub version is preferred, 1/8 ounce in white, yellow, or chartreuse), Johnson’s Beetle Spin (1/8 or 1/4 ounce in white, yellow, or chartreuse), or inline spinners such as Mepp’s Aglia Ultra Lite spinner (1/18 ounce with a gold blade and yellow wool).

Line Recommendations for Bass Reels

Baitcasting reels

For topwater baitcasting reels use mono in 12 – 15 lb. test.  The exception is fishing with soft plastic frogs, in which case 50 – 65 lb. braid is the best (to cut through weeds, lily pads, etc.; braid also floats).

For crankbait/spinnerbait/chatterbait/jerk bait baitcasting reels use fluorocarbon in 12 – 15 lb. test.

For soft plastics, reels use fluorocarbon in 12 – 15 lb. test or braid in 30 – 50 lb. test (braid does not have the same thickness as fluorocarbon or mono – 40 lb. braid = 12 lb. fluorocarbon or mono).

Spinning reels

Spinning reels shine using light lures, which most baitcasting reels have trouble with.  Therefore, I recommend 8 – 10 lb. fluorocarbon or lighter.

Spincast reels

These are the least desirable reels for bass reels.  Most are cheaply made and will not last long if used regularly.  Generally, for most spincast reels you don’t want to use anything heavier than 10 lb. mono.

Line and Reel Recommendations for Crappie Reels

Spinning reels (preferred)

Use fluorocarbon or mono in 2 – 8 lb. test, the lighter the better.

Spincast reels (ultralights)

Use mono in 2 – 8 lb. test, the lighter the better.

Baitcasting reels

Don’t use.  They won’t be able to cast the light lines and lures that are required for crappie fishing.

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