Persistence Pays Off on Lake Texoma E-mail
Written by Robert Field   
Monday, 27 January 2014 11:50

striper at dawn sea level apparel  

Dallas, Texas native and avid kayak angler and videographer, Robert Field, shares his story of wintertime striper fishing on Lake Texoma.

The day started with high hopes. I say day, but it was well before dawn when I woke up. Our target was striper; big striper. Unfortunately, the big ones live about an hour north of my home in Dallas in the depths of Lake Texoma, one of the largest lakes in the country. The size of Lake Texoma can make it daunting to chase schooling fish in a man-powered vessel, but with a little knowledge you can increase your chances dramatically. We'd had reports of an area producing nice fish, and were scheduled to launch at dawn.

Ever had those nights when you know you have to get up way too early, but just can’t fall asleep? This was one of those nights in the worst way. Striper are my favorite freshwater species, and I hadn’t chased them in almost a year and I had the itch, bad. On the drive I thought about my plan of attack: which lures I would try in what kind of areas and in what order. As winter causes the water temperatures in lakes to drop, a striper’s metabolism slows dramatically, like most fish. The shad, their main prey, also becomes extremely sluggish. Because of this, "dead sticking" can be the most efficient way to catch striper. Dead sticking involves lowering a large fluke rigged onto a relatively heavy jighead, and literally not moving your rod. Hence, “dead stick”. It is not the most exciting way to fish, but once a 30” striper gets jolted awake by your hook in its mouth, all of that changes in an instant.

I had imagined myself holding up that 30” striper as I arrived at the launch. It was a crisp 35°F or so, but I began to warm up quickly as I unloaded my gear. The three of us paddled out of the small marina, and before long we all started marking fish on our depth finders; lots of them. The wind forecast held true for once, and the 20mph winds made keeping our “sticks dead” a challenge. Before long, Mike yells “Fish on!” and I turn to see his rod doubled over. My heart begins to race, excitement for both him and for myself as I was sure I would feel the signature ‘thump’ soon. I waited patiently, staring at my fish finder like it was my favorite TV show. This new Lowrance Elite-5 allows me to watch my lure beneath me, and I raise and lower it to match the depth of each arch that passes by the screen. Nothing. No thump. No tug. I look over to see Mike landing another fish and can hear Eian hollering behind me. I stare back at my rod, grimacing, as if maybe I will convince it to get bit. As it hits 9:30 in the morning, Mike has seven fish on his stringer and Eian has two. I have not had so much as the hallucination of a bite, despite us using nearly identical lures within yards of each other. I felt defeated. The bite shuts off, but we continue fishing as the hours go by. It’s now sunset, and I can’t remember the last time I’ve felt this beaten down, both physically and mentally. I had fished with intense focus for hours. Without so much as the cast-and-reel of bass fishing to distract me, I have sat all day fighting the wind without so much as a nibble. We start drifting back towards the launch, and I have given up all hope of avoiding a skunk.

crappie on lake texoma sea level

Then, it happens! A thump! I set the hook late, but I set it hard, and immediately I feel weight. A FISH! But something seems odd. It’s not fighting. It’s not struggling at all. “Great, I've caught a branch,” I yelled to the guys. Then it surfaces, and I almost jumped out of my kayak. A crappie! A big crappie! I grab my measuring stick, grinning from ear to ear. It’s just under 15 inches, my personal best. On a day where all hope had been lost, I landed the biggest crappie of my life deadsticking a 5” fluke on a 1oz jighead down a drop-off.  And apparently, had broken its neck with my hookset. Its gills flared faintly, but it did not put up a fight of any sort. I guess I got carried away. I went on to finally land that striper soon after, and while it was no monster, it was probably the most satisfying striper I’ve ever landed. I once heard that “The charm of fishing is that it is the pursuit of what is elusive but attainable, a perpetual series of occasions for hope.” That’s exactly right. Even when the fishing is tough, you cast your line out there again and again, because you never know when you’ll land the big one.

Robert Field is a YakFish TV fishing team member and videographer, winning Kayak Fishing Video of the Year in the 2013 Kayak Angler Choice Awards. YakFish TV is a team of passionate kayak anglers that aim to grow the sport of kayak fishing through video media. Look for their website going live this Spring at www.YakFishTV.com, your source for all things kayak fishing. Check out the amazing kayak fishing videos on www.youtube.com/YAKnAGGIE and follow their exploits on www.facebook.com/YakFishTV.

 
 
 

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