It just stands to reason that the more often you do something, the better you will get at doing it.
I often have inexperienced clients aboard my boat who, for example, have no experience with a tactic like vertical jigging with a slab.
Because our two nearest reservoirs, Belton and Stillhouse Hollow, harbor plentiful populations of white bass, and because white bass respond well to vertical jigging with a slab, over the course of four hours I can take an angler who has never vertically jigged before and help them progress well in their use of that approach.
This is due to the opportunity that repetition, blended with a bit of coaching, presents. When, over the course of a typical four-hour trip, an angler gets 50 to 60 opportunities to work their bait in front of active fish, watch those fish respond positively to their presentation and then correctly set the hook and land a high percentage of those fish, their confidence soars and they gain invaluable experience.
So, where does one go locally to improve their skills in the use of soft plastic baits in such a manner when it comes to largemouth bass?
My answer is Fayette County Reservoir, located between LaGrange and Round Top.
Simply put, Fayette County Reservoir is full of quality bass that will afford an angler many opportunities to present a bait to quality largemouth bass, observe bass response to the presentation, set the hook on these fish and play them to boatside.
Due to the quantity and quality of bass in the lake, an angler will, over a given period of time, get many times more opportunities in the form of strikes on artificial lures from bass at Fayette County than is likely to happen on our two local lakes. This is primarily due to the greater fertility of the water at Fayette County and the longer growing season the fish encounter there thanks to this lake being a “hot water” lake.
A “hot water” lake is one on which some manner of power generation plant is operating. Water is typically drawn into the plant from one segment of the lake, run through process equipment to cool it, then discharged at a much higher temperature back into the lake.
As this happens on a continuous basis, the average temperature of the lake rises above that of other lakes along the same latitude.
According to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s website, Fayette County Reservoir is 2,400 acres in size. There are two operational boat ramps: Park Prairie Park and Oak Thicket Park.
On Thursday, Morgan’s Point Resort resident and long-time bass angler James Caddell and I fished Fayette County. We departed around 5 a.m. and launched around 7:20, right at sunrise (although the sun this day was obscured by cloud cover).
I had never fished this body of water before.
Over the course of 7½ hours, we fished seven distinct areas and caught multiple fish at six of these areas.
We landed just shy of 30 largemouth bass, all caught between 10 and 17 feet deep. We also set the hook on but missed other fish, and had a few hooked fish get away before we could land them. A Carolina rig produced best for both of us.
To gear up for Carolina rigging, I relied upon a 7-foot-3-inch Abu Garcia Fantasista Premier casting rod rated for 12- to 25-pound test line and 3/8 ounce to 1½ ounce lure weight. I paired this with an Abu Garcia Revo Winch baitcasting reel with a slow 5.4-to-1 gear ratio. I spooled up with Berkley Trilene 100 percent fluorocarbon line rated at 20-pound test.
To form the Carolina rig, I slipped a 1-ounce egg sinker onto my 20-pound test main line, I then slid a quarter-inch diameter plastic bead on the line to protect my knot from abrasion caused by the weight. I then tied on a VMC #2 rolling swivel with a Palomar knot. To the other end of the swivel I tied a 3-foot length of 15-pound test fluorocarbon leader material. Finally, a 5/0 Gamakatsu worm hook with an offset shank and round bend was tied at the terminal end of the leader.
I threw two baits on this rig — a Berkley Havoc 5-inch Hawk Hawg, and a Berkley Powerbait 5½-inch Rib Snake. Both baits produced well in green pumpkin color with blue flake.
Our best results came on main lake points. We made long casts and fished our baits from shallow water out to deeper water with short, roughly 3-foot long pulls of our rod tips parallel to the water’s surface.
Maintaining position to fish in this manner was made much easier with the GPS-equipped trolling motor on our boat.
The fish we caught ranged from 14 to 21inches and from just over a pound to approximately 4½ pounds.
The fishery at Fayette County is protected by a slot limit which requires that fish in their prime reproductive years be released. Only fish under 14 inches and over 24 inches may be kept.
Because practice makes perfect, Fayette County is a great place to go practice and gain confidence through successful repetition.