TEXAS FRESHWATER by Matt Williams – March 2020
February 24, 2020
NUGENT IN THE WILD by Ted Nugent – March 2020
February 24, 2020

(Photo: Courtesy San Jacinto River Authority)

Houston’s Playground is a Freshwater Angler’s Paradise

LAKE CONROE is often called “Houston’s Playground.”

Due to its proximity to the nation’s fourth largest city it is used by pleasure boaters, ski enthusiasts and people simply wanting to get out on the water.

Serious fishermen, however, know Lake Conroe as a truly amazing fishing lake for multiple species.

Impounded in 1973, Lake Conroe is a 20,118-acre reservoir on the West Fork of the San Jacinto River.

And it is legendary for its truly huge largemouth bass.

The Toyota Sharelunker Program has recognized bass weighing 13 pounds or more since 1986 and in fact out of more than 60 lakes that have produced Sharelunker bass, only five have produced more than Conroe.

Keith Combs, winner of multiple Toyota Bass Classics on Lake Conroe, says the lake is a consistent big bass producer.
(Photo: Matt Williams)

Fork comes out on top at 261, followed by Sam Rayburn (27),

Alan Henry (27) and Austin (20.) Conroe has produced 18 of these massive bass.

“The lake probably doesn’t have as big of a bass population as some of the other top bass lakes due to Conroe not having much grass. But what Conroe does have is a good number of big fish which is why you have seen major tournaments where the big fish of the day was over 10 pounds,” said Bassmaster Elite Series pro Keith Combs, who has won multiple Toyota Texas Bass Classics on Conroe.

One of those lunkers was the current lake record 15.93 pounder that was caught on Jan. 30, 2009 by Ricky Bearden of Conroe.

Despite a lack of natural cover, Lake Conroe produces a healthy population of crappie.
(Photo: Matt Williams)

In a story that appeared in Texas Fish & Game, writer Matt Williams wrote that Bearden caught the big fish at around noon while practicing for an Ignition Bass Club tournament to be held the following day.

“He was fishing in the back of Weir Creek when the monster bass gobbled up the Texas-rigged black Zoom Trick Worm he was fishing in about two feet of water.”

“Bearden’s fish was one of five Conroe ShareLunkers turned in between Jan. 2008 and Feb. 2009, and it eclipsed the former lake record of 14.91 pounds set in March 1997 by Bill Boyett. Conroe’s most recent ShareLunker, a 13.14 pounder, was caught in April 2015 by David Perciful of Conroe. That fish was reportedly caught out of six feet of water on a Texas rigged lizard.”

Another interesting note about Conroe’s big bass legacy is a monster fish caught by a Texas Parks & Wildlife Department (TPWD) crew of fisheries biologist during an electroshock survey.

TPWD rarely catches bass weighing more than 10 pound in these surveys but in 1998 they caught the biggest we have ever heard of at 14.1-on Conroe. It would take a whole other set of stories to adequately cover the how and where to of Conroe’s bass so be on the lookout for those at

Conroe is also a super crappie lake.

Angler Shannon E. Everitt broke the white crappie record in 2019 with a huge 2.77-pounder and the black crappie is no slouch either with Dennis Digg’s 2.20-pound slab caught in 1999.

For a lake with little natural cover, anglers catch most of the crappie around bait docks and planted brush piles. Anglers regularly catch limits of crappie with the prime fishing in the spring and early summer.

Conroe is also loaded with catfish and they get big.

The current lake record blue cat was caught by Morris Taymon in 2019 and weighed 67 pounds. Jody Baughman caught the record channel cat in 2011 and it weighed 18.50 pounds which is huge for a channel cat.

The record flathead catfish goes all the way back to 1990 and was caught by Jimmie Lee Johnson. It weighed a whopping 86 pounds.

Lake Conroe is also loaded with catfish, and they grow big.
(Photo: Matt Williams)

Conroe guide Richard Tatsch said anglers wanting to score on cats during spring and early summer should located stumps lining the river channel edge and tie off in 20 to 25 foot of water and fish stinkbait.

“Use a bag of cattle cubes to bring the fish to you. I will dump a half bag of cubes on two different locations and come back to the first, tie up and get my boat back in the same position,” he said.

“Using a spinning reel with a treble hook, an 1/8 ounce egg sinker and a piece of cut sponge wrapped around it; dip it in the bait and drop it to the bottom. Stay in contact with the bottom raising the bait up and down slowly until you feel some resistance. Then, set the hook. You can on most days catch limits of fish in just a few hours.”

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Tatsch also said anglers should consider targeting hybrid stripers which love to take live shad and  a variety of lures when these voracious predators begin to school on the surface around April.

“They will be all around the lake on main lake points that have shallow sandy bottoms. Find the schools of shad and you will find the hybrids. This time of year, they will run shad up on these points early and late and during mid-day they will move deeper. Find the depth the bait are in and you will find the fish,” he said.

“There are times when they will stay on the surface for the biggest part of the morning. This usually happens when it is overcast and calm. Live shad will be the bait of choice in deeper water, but the swim shad will be the one to catch bigger fish in the shallower water.”

Lake Conroe is a great destination for the angler wanting to catch the bass of a lifetime or a limit of catfish for the frying pan.

Give it a try.

Lake Conroe will not disappoint.


Fish Attractors Boost Conroe Fishing

TPWD’s Inland Fisheries Division continually strives to make fishing better and more accessible. One great way to do both is through the addition of fish habitat structures at selected areas within major reservoirs.

The map below shows coordinates of PVC cube fish attractors deployed by Seven Coves Bass Club (a Friends of Reservoirs Chapter), TPWD, and the River Authority. There are several structures at each marked site. Other partners involved with the project include the US Army Corps of Engineers, Texas Black Bass Unlimited (a Friends of Reservoirs affiliate organization), SprayCo of Houston, and the Bass Anglers Sportsman Society.





Keith Combs Classic on Conroe






Eagle Claw



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