FRESH WATER TIDES by Steve Schaffer
January 25, 2017
January 25, 2017

Reeling in Some Sense in a Fishing Report

I f you’re an avid reader of this magazine and others like it, chances are you’re a sponge for information that might provide some sort of edge next time you head to the woods or the water.

It’s the job of scribes like me to offer as much good advice as we can—or at least take a stab at it—ideally in a manner that meshes the fine line of being helpful and entertaining all at the same time.

As a kid growing up, I read all sorts of hook and bullet magazines. I also made a point to have my mom save the sports section from the local newspaper every Thursday, just so I could check out the Outdoor page ahead of the weekend. One of my favorite reads was the weekly fishing report on area lakes and rivers.

It’s funny how your past can come back and hook you.

More than 40 years down the road, here I sit, pecking keys and sharing insight on the very topics I relished reading about as kid. One of those gigs involves compiling a weekly fishing report for a dozen or so weekly and daily newspapers across eastern Texas.

Tackling the task involves regular communication via e-mail or phone with fishing guides, bait shops and other reliable sources to keep up with what the fish are biting, how deep they are holding and what might be the best ways to go about catching a few from week to the next.

To get the most out of a fishing report it helps if you have a basic understanding of the sport and to be familiar with the lingo fishermen use when they talk fishing.

To wit:

It’s essential to know the difference between a topwater plug and a jigging spoon. Sort of like it helps to understand the basic logic behind baiting holes for channel catfish, building brush piles for crappie or using live perch on trotline sets meant to catch monster flatheads.

Here are a few fishin’ scenarios that you might expect to see in an early spring fishing report followed by an explanation of the details contained within:


The Report: “Bass are good on bladed jigs and green/pumpkin Senkos worked around shallow pad stubble and outside grass edges. Carolina rigs and cranks work around the warm discharge area.

Jim Tutt using a lipless crankbait.

Dealing With It: When “good” is used to describe the fishing, it means the bite is better than fair but not quite hot enough to rank as excellent. Good fishing means you’ve got a better than average chance of success provided you do things right.

Bladed jig describes lures similar to the Chatterbait—it looks like a traditional casting jig with a silicone skirt, except it has a flat blade mounted to the nose that catches water and creates flash and vibration as the bait moves though the water. It’s killer on big fish.

A Senko is a popular soft plastic stick bait shaped similar to a Bic pen—fat in the middle and skinny at both ends. It can be rigged weightless, Texas or wacky style to get at fish that are hanging around grass, bushes or open flats.

Pad stubble defines the dead stems left behind when lily pads go dormant during later fall and winter; outside grass edge describes the edge of a grass bed that typically forms where shallow water meets with deep.

“Crank” is short for crankbait, a hard body lure equipped with a plastic nose bill to make it dive. Carolina rig is a bottom fishing rig for plastics that allows the bait to float free from the weight on a two to three-foot leader.

Anytime you see “warm water discharge” in a fishing report you can bet the lake in question is flanked by a power plant used to generate electricity. The power plant uses lake water to cool its turbines before discharging it back into the lake at a much warmer temperature than when it went in. Bass and bait fish are prone to gather around warmer water during the winter months.

White Bass

The Report: “White bass are beginning to show up in big numbers around underwater sandbars and in the mouths of clear running creeks; lots of limits with some big females in the mix, mainly on Roadrunners.”

Dealing With It: Anytime you see “big numbers” and “white bass” in the same sentence during early spring you can bet the spring spawning run is heating up on rivers and creeks that feed major reservoirs with reputable white bass populations. The fish migrate upstream from these impoundments each spring, usually in large schools, to create the next generation of white bass. Males are always the first to show up, followed by larger females.

They like to set-up camp in still water eddies on back sides of sandbars, out of the current, where they can often be caught on consecutive casts. The Blakemore Roadrunner (1/4 ounce) in red/chartreuse and red/white patterns is a staple in white bass fishing.


The Report: “Rod and reelers are picking up some solid blues on cut shad soaked on the bottom on wind-blown points and under the birds up north.”

Wally Marshall with a
jig-caught keeper.

Dealing With It: Big blue cats are frequently fooled in skinny water this time of year, using fresh shad caught with a cast net and diced into small pieces. Some of the best fishing occurs on main lake points located on the receiving end of wave action kicked up by strong winds. The theory is the waves push tiny zooplankton against the bank. This attracts minnows and other small forage, which in turn brings in larger predators like catfish.


The Report: “Good numbers of keepers taking small shiners and jigs around bridge pilings in 25 feet of water, suspended 14 feet down.”

Dealing With It: Crappie like to gather around bridge pilings and the concrete cross members that connect them this time of year. If the fish are suspended 14 feet below the surface in 25 feet of water, it is essential that the bait be suspended at that depth, or real close to it. Good electronics are essential for locating suspended crappies.

Email Matt Williams at

[email protected]



Ranger Boats



Email Matt Williams at [email protected]

Return to CONTENTS Page


Comments are closed.