Sep
16

Self-chartered Freshwater Fishing Trip Rotation

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The following is a rotation list for self-chartered freshwater fishing trips on central Texas lakes within 90 miles of Austin.  We primarily target largemouth bass but can also go after crappie, white bass, and/or hybrids, so be prepared (for reel type, line, and lure recommendations see the bottom of this page).

As I, Randy Rowley, have a full-time Monday – Friday job, am not a guide, fish on Saturday’s or state of Texas holidays (usually), and fish on highly pressured lakes, do not expect to always catch limits on these trips.  However, we usually have some success, including:

We will fish either Lakes Travis, Bastrop, Fayette, Decker, Stillhouse Hollow, Belton, Lady Bird, Austin, Somerville, 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.  I can take up to two fishermen (three if they’re very experienced) on my boat (not counting me).  Trips will usually be six to ten hours, counting travel time, unless the fish are biting well, in which case we may decide to fish later, or if they’re not biting well or at all, in which case we may decide to quit earlier.

We will fish out of my 20′ 3″ 2019 Excel Bay Pro 203 with a 115 HP Yahama motor, an 80 lb. thrust trolling motor, and two fish finders (unless we’re fishing a creek during the white bass run, in which case we’ll be on foot).  I usually will have at least one of these trips a month during non-hunting months (February through August), 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 – 5 lb. bass for people to catch.  Fayette has a 14 – 24″ slot limit for the same reason.

Costs:

  • The participants (excluding me, if my boat 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).  I have to replace my boat’s batteries, trailer’s tires and wheel bearings, etc., and repair things like my trolling motor more quickly due to taking Rotation members on such trips than I would if I didn’t take Rotation members on such trips; therefore, I am exempt from the above expenses.
  • We’ll 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 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 the boat isn’t moving often, people who want to fish with live bait will become frustrated if the boat is moving (as movement will drown the bait), and people who want to fish with dead bait will also become frustrated if the boat is moving.

What to Bring:

  • Freshwater fishing license.
  • Rods and Reels (at least two in case you break one; I usually fish with eight).
  • Lures and/or terminal tackle for fishing with live and/or dead bait.
  • Headlamp/cap light (preferred) or flashlight (to help ready my boat for launch).
  • Cap/hat (optional).
  • A small ice chest or bag to take fish home in if we decide to keep fish (I usually return largemouth bass to the water; there will be a large ice chest on my boat to put your drinks in and storage compartments to put your snacks in).
  • A fillet knife, fillet board (recommended), and sharpener (recommended), if we decide to keep fish.
  • Drinks and snacks (optional; drinks are highly recommended).
  • Sunglasses (optional).
  • Sunscreen (optional).
  • Bug repellent (optional).
  • Rain gear, if rain is predicted (I have three ponchos in my boat).

I have five life jackets so you won’t need one.

I have extras of many of the items that are listed above and will happily loan things if you let me 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.

Expectations

Being on this rotation is a privilege and is not an FCS membership benefit.  This rotation is a service to FCS members and guests, but I will enforce the following expectations.  I have and will remove people from the rotation for violations of the below expectations (this list is not all-inclusive):

  • Fish in a safe manner, follow my 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 the boat back on the trailer).
  • Be prepared to fish (if I or others must help you rig properly while on the boat, it takes away from our 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.
  • Asking questions that have already been answered in my emails (and you would have known the answers for if you had read my emails).
  • Return my phone calls and/or emails, if I ask a question or ask you to acknowledge something.
  • People on this Rotation who do not respond to any of my emails during a calendar year will be removed from the Rotation the next year.

The Rotation

The following people are on the Freshwater Fishing Trip Rotation for 2021 (as stated in How the Rotations Work, the Event Hierarchy applies):

  1. Randy Rowley (I will always have Spot #1, as I’m the boat captain)
  2. Kevin McConnell
  3. Harold Terry (Harold and Edward Terry prefer to go on fishing trips together)
  4. Edward Terry (Edward and Harold Terry prefer to go on fishing trips together)
  5. Zack and Yuri Tumlinson (Yuri will not go without Zack)
  6. Jonathan Fleming
  7. Tim Cadena
  8. Mark Kelton
  9. Patrick Kelley
  10. Steve Fusco
  11. Steven Babin
  12. Ryan and Claire Rowley (Claire will not go without Ryan)
  13. Roy Zengerle
  14. Darvin Borgfeld
  15. Mike Walsh
  16. Ron Campbell
  17. Dustin Rhodes
  18. Christian Bana
  19. Burl and Daniel Fulenwider (Daniel will not go without Burl)
  20. Jim McGee
  21. Chris Harden
  22. David Atkins
  23. Jacob Bonugli
  24. Burtis and Dee Shedd
  25. Chris Rowley

Let me know at randywrowley@gmail.com (my preference) or at 512-922-2484 if you would like to be added to this rotation.  At present, any individual requesting to be added to the rotation will be placed at the bottom of the list.  Contact me 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’s 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 my favorite colors include Smokin’ Green, 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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