(Editor’s note: Starting immediately, FLW Tour pro Tom Redington has agreed to make regular blog contributions to FLWOutdoors.com. Bass-fishing fans will be able to see Redington’s blog installments approximately once a month on FLWOutdoors.com. Going forward, fans of FLWOutdoors.com will be treated to a wide array of blogs from a host of different FLW Tour pros as we get closer to the start of the 2014 season.)
Our nation is blessed with so many fantastic bass fisheries all around the country – in the Southeast, Okeechobee, Guntersville and Kentucky Lake are just a few of the finest lakes you’ll ever fish. Head out West and there’s Clear Lake, the Delta and the Columbia River. Midwestern and northern anglers can brag about plenty of awesome smallie and largemouth bass places—venues such as Table Rock, the Mississippi River, Lake Erie, Champlain and the Potomac River. And if you spend a little time travelling around the States, you’ll quickly find each fishery has some pretty salty anglers and a lot of guys just like you and me, guys who spend every possible bit of free time chasing our finny friends.
Yet when I looked for a place to start a fishing career not long after college, one place stood out to me – and I’m happily still here years later. You guessed it, I’m talking about Texas. I’m sure that’ll elicit a few groans from folks in the other 48 states that harbor bass, but consider a few things that I love about Texas bass fishing:
• At one point or another, legendary pros including Jay Yelas, Dean Rojas, Gary Klein and Larry Nixon moved to Texas to further their fishing careers. Heck, Takahiro Omori and Shin Fukae moved all the way from Japan to Texas. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that things turned out pretty well for them in the bassin’ game.
• Falcon, Amistad, Toledo Bend, Sam Rayburn and Lake Fork are all world class fisheries and their feats are well documented. Fork has cranked out well over 250 documented bass over 13 pounds (and countless more that weren’t certified) including a 14-, 15-, and 16-pounder last year. In recent years at Falcon, guide customers wrapping up a day with a 35- to 40-pound limit would remark that it was a fun trip but they really had hoped to catch a “big fish.” Where else do people say that?! Oh, and did I mention Choke Canyon? A couple years ago, a team brought in a five-fish limit of 44 pounds with a 13-pound kicker. Close, but no cigar because there was another 13- and a 15-pounder caught that day, plus a 45-pound stringer!
• Even our mediocre lakes are pretty darn good. If you are competing on some of the lesser lakes in the state, it still will take a 20-plus-pound limit to win a tourney in the spring. The record bass on almost every single lake is over 10 pounds. Lake Lewisville, a jet ski and yacht paradise right in the heart of Dallas that most bass anglers avoid at all costs, was the site where KVD caught an 11 pounder on a shaky head the last time there was a big event there. No offense to Beaver Lake or Fort Loudoun, but that’s the type of shaky head tourney that I could learn to enjoy!
• The state actually helps further bass fishing instead of working against it. Personally, it seems like in a lot of states, bass tournaments and fishing are becoming more and more restricted. In Texas, all parts of lakes – except dangerous areas around dams and power plants – are open to fishing. There are no off-limits areas in private water or marinas or docks that are closed to fishing. And instead of trying to kill every stitch of grass in your lake, the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department is actually trying to grow world-record bass through their ShareLunker program. For my money, this Texas state agency is on the leading edge of stocking Florida-strain bass in lakes, then collecting giant fish from anglers over 13 pounds for spawning purposes in state hatcheries. Once the genetically superior bass spawns in a controlled environment, the fish and her super-babies are then returned to the lake to make more lunker bass. The goal is to one day produce a world record. It may never happen, but it’s a noble cause. And so far our record is up to 18.18 pounds with 550 fish over 13 pounds donated to the program.
• Having endured frozen lakes in Illinois and closed bass seasons until mid-May in Wisconsin, a good trap and jig bite in January in a hooded sweatshirt and gloves more than makes up for the 100-plus-degree days we routinely see in Texas in July and August. Hungry schools of big fish fighting over deep diving cranks, football jigs and flutter spoons tend to mitigate the heat as well.
So just remember as you’re watching your football teams beat up on our Texas boys on Saturdays and Sundays, we Texas fishermen couldn’t care less, because we’re probably in the middle of reeling in another 5-pounder in paradise.
You can follow Tom Redington’s fishing tips and updates at www.facebook.com/tomredingtonfishing and www.twitter.com/Tom_Redington. For fishing articles and videos, check out his website www.LakeForkGuideTrips.com.