Every Fall, we head back to the Piney Woods with life-long friends for our annual fishing/camping trip. We went to back to Rayburn for the first time since 2009. Since we live north of Dallas, we have to "pre-fish" using Texas Fishing Forum and BassResource.com, and always appreciate the tips and recommendations received. We spent Tuesday-Friday (Nov. 1-4) on the lake, so I thought I would return the favor and post how our trip went.
LODGING/BOAT RAMP/RESTAURANTS: We stayed at Dixon Cabins just outside of Harvey Creek Park (3 minute truck ride from the boat ramp). We stayed at Dixon Cabins over the years and recommend it if you are looking for a cabin and fishing mid-lake -- and especially if you are putting in at Harvey Creek. Clean, spacious cabin with 2 bedrooms and 1 bath and fairly easy access with your boat. Old man Dixon passed away and now it's his son that runs it. I think there is only a couple of cabins that are used to rent out. Harvey Creek boat ramp has really deteriorated over the years (been putting in there since the mid-90's when I was at SFA). However, it is still a usable 1 lane ramp -- but really dark, which makes it hard to launch before daylight or after the sun goes down. I have always loved that little road thru the forest and into Harvey Creek Park. We were disappointed to hear that Catfish Junction and the Mexican food restaurants (both in Broaddus) went out of business since our last trip in 2009. We ended up eating at Bear's Country Diner, which was very good - especially the catfish and had great service.
FISHING: Lake was down 3'. Water clarity was average most places, except the actual Harvey Creek cove which was very stained. Water temps were 75-77 (a little warmer than we expected). Overall the bass fishing was very good. Our boat (2 people) averaged about 30-35 fish per day. Most fish were 1-3 pounds with a few in the 4-6 pound range. Our Top 5 would have been 17-20 pounds each day.
We love throwing TX-rigged worms, but we just couldn't get on that bite. The hydrilla wasn't near what its been over the years, so we struggled a little there. Where we found hydrilla, we found fish. I got a lot of pre-trip reports about the fish relating to the hay grass (which was new in the lake since we've been), but we either don't know how to fish it properly or the fish just weren't there. If there was hydrilla next to the hay grass, then game on. Same for the lily pads. No fish unless there was hydrilla near them.
We primarily fished the Harvey Creek area, which for us is defined as Indian, Hog Branch, Harvey Creek, Bird Islands, and 147 Bridge. The best advice I ever got for Fall fishing was this.... break the cove down into 3 sections (top/main lake, middle, and back/mouth of creek... then determine where the shad are, as the fish will follow the shad to the back of the cove, then back out to the main lake when it gets colder. Being the first week of November, we thought we would find the shad and bass in the back of the coves. However, we caught 90% of our fish in the middle of the coves. That helped a lot, as each time we fished a different area, we just eliminated 2/3's of the cove and focused on the middle third. We would drive the boat about 30% into the cove and start fishing at the first point we could find. The fish were either on these secondary points or just on the backside of them -- fish those areas really hard.
In the morning, we did really well on Yellow Magics. The bass were destroying that thing. By the end of Day 2, they knocked off all the paint on one side of my lure, but they kept hitting it - so I kept throwing it
If it stayed cloudy midday, or even when the sun dipped behind a big cloud, they would hit the Yellow Magic all day long.
If the sun came out, you had to go down a little. Our best lures midday were a rouge (we were using chrome/blue back and gold/black back and they hit them the same, so not sure color mattered) and also a watermelon or pumpkin seed fluke and sinko with a small split shot weight.
All fish on the Yellow Magic, fluke and sinkos were caught throwing up tight to the bank and working it out 15-20 feet from the back. Again, focus on points and anywhere with hydrilla. For some reason, the better fishing side of every cove we hit was on left side. Most likely because it had deeper water nearby.
On the last day, we got into a crankbait bite behind Bird Island. There are several humps back there and the fish were stacked in there. Most fish were caught on the side of the humps in approx. 10 foot of water using crankbaits that swam about 5-6 feet down. I side-hooked 2 really nice size catfish in there as well that I thought were HUGE bass before I finally fought them to the boat. Got my heart racing...lol. Fish the crankbait slow. Crank it really hard 6 or 7 turns to get it down, then fish really slow. Most of these fish were 1-2.5 pounds, but there were a lot of them in there. I wish we would have found this spot earlier in the trip, as it was a great midday place to stop. We also caught fish on the corners of the 147 bridge on the crankbait.
Alright, my fingers are hurting from all the typing. While I gave some details that will help, I didn't give all the exact specifics. If you are headed to Rayburn and want more info, shoot me a PM with your cell number. I'm glad to help out.