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Lake Travis KATS Wrap Up

Finally a warmer weather tournament was upon us. I love warmer weather, I was tired of the 50 degree and below temperatures we had been having at Lake Bastrop and Fayette. Bring on the warmth! It was about 60 degrees when we launched just at daybreak and warmed up into the upper 70’s by the end of the tournament. The first half of the day was overcast, but about noon the sun came out and it was a beautiful day out on Lake Travis for the Kayak Anglers Tournament Series stop #3 on Lake Travis.

Well…at least the weather was beautiful, because the water and the fishing were not! It had rained, rained a lot, and rained hard, the week and a half leading up to the tournament. The water level had risen 12 feet in that time, and all that new water caused the typically clear Lake Travis water to become murky, with visibility of about 1.5 feet. The water temp was right in the spawning zone, and it was before the rain too. So whatever beds had been made were now under an extra 12 feet of water. Do you think all that threw the fishing off? Yep!

This was the toughest all around tournament I have ever been a part of. Of the 55 anglers who entered the Lake Travis event, only one, I repeat…ONLY ONE, angler caught a limit of bass. The next closest was three fish caught. They were truly lock-jawed.

My game plan was to fish shallow, and slowly work deeper until I found the fish. I started my morning of throwing a topwater bait for about 15 minutes, along a gradually sloped bank with a few stumps, without any interest from the fish. I switched to a Strike King crankbait in a crawfish pattern and continued to work down the bank. Nothing. As I worked further down I came upon a limestone cliff typical of the banks of Lake Travis. I switched to a drop-shot chartreuse Power Bait minnow and slowly worked the cliff-face with depths from 8-20 feet for about an hour. Again, I got nothing.

I continued to the end of the cliff, where it started to transition into a slightly more sloped bank with dirt, rock, flooded grass, and stumps, all mixed. I switched to a P. H. Kellner – Quality Custom Fishing Jig (in a chartreuse sunfish pattern) and began to work shallow 1-4 foot water. Almost immediately I had a hit, but when I set the hook I had nothing. About 15 minutes later (9:00 am) I had another hit, set the hook and almost immediately I was hung up. The bass had wrapped me around a stump. I tried to work it free with no luck, so I kept tension on the line and paddled to the area. I was able to work the line free and thankfully the bass was still there. It was a 17.75 inch bass. Not bad for a first fish on Lake Travis.

I continued to work that bank until the cover I was fishing ended and I came up on two floating docks. I worked both docks with the jig, the dropshot, and a skinny jerkbait. Again, nothing paid any attention to anything I was throwing at it. So…I decided to go find more cover similar to where I found the fish.

This is where my Jackson Cuda shined! That kayak absolutely flies on the water. It tracks straight ahead as well or better than any boat I have ever paddled and it is fast! The I was able to paddle much further in search of the cover I needed to, without feeling like I was burning too much fishing time. I made it to the opposite end of where I launched and found some similar cover. I grabbed the P. H. Kellner Custom Rod with my jig tied on and began to slowly work the bank and cover. About 15 minutes down the back (about Noon,) I caught my second fish on the same jig in about 3 feet of water.

The sun was out now and some small carp started jumping around me. I finished working the bank with my jig with no bites. The carp were still jumping, and some were about 6-8 inches long and were a bright gold color. I thought maybe the bass are feeding on those, so I switched my crankbait to a Rapala that dove about 10 feet and ad gold sides and a black back. Who knows maybe this would work. I fished the crankbait for about 45 minutes with no bites.

At this point I had no other ideas, so I decided to go back and fish the area I caught my first fish in the morning. I trolled the crankbait as I made the long journey back. When I got back, it was getting late in the day, but I had time to work that cover twice more very thoroughly. As I was working the bank with my jig, many anglers started paddling past me back toward the check-in point. I was feeling nervous at this point, with only two fish, but as they went by I talked to them and realized I was actually better off than any of they were.

I did not get any more bites, and it was time to paddle back and check in. I still was not very confident at this point, only coming in with two fish, but hey, at least I was picking up some points. It turns out that I actually had a pretty good day compared to everyone else. I finished 8th, my third top-ten finish in three tournaments this season. That put me in the top three and probably secured my spot in the KATS Classic!