We made the trek to Texas from central MN and had one of the best weeks I've ever had fishing. Normally we fish starting the 3rd week in March, so we anticipated colder water and tougher fishing. Our original game plan was to fish Monticello and Welsh for most of the week.
On 3/3 we started on Welsh. I was not expecting the boat ramp parking ramp to be full right away in the morning. Water temps started out around 67 degrees and the water was high and clear. We murdered the bass, catching well over 50 fish mostly in the 3lb range. We spent most of our time in a small area on the south west end due to the number of boats using the lake. I fished a black/blue missile D-bomb (beaver style) bait with a red hook, flipping it on any open sand/clay bed I could see. We kept the trolling motor as low as we could to prevent spooking the shallow fish. Keeping the boat as far and quiet as possible greatly increased our fishing success. We found lots of beds under trees and bushes, so it was full contact fishing. The fish were post-spawn and their bellies were caved in, I saw lots of fry swimming around also.
3/4 We decided to fish Welsh again because we had a great day on Saturday. We were hoping to fish some different areas of the lake and try to find some bigger bass. A group of avid fishermen from Louisiana who also were staying at our hotel said that the power plant was shut down on Monticello. We talked to a kayak fisherman we saw catching a bunch of fish on topwater baits. We tried some different tactics and threw spinnerbaits and pop-r baits on the deeper edges of the hydrilla grass. We caught fish right away but they were the same size as yesterday. At this point I'm thinking we didn't tow a boat almost 1100 miles to catch MN sized fish.
As I'm fishing I feel like I'm stuck on a log, we can't move no matter what we do. We figure out that our talon somehow deployed and was stuck down. We spent the next hour trying to use a wrench trying to stow that sucker. Moved the boat back and forth trying to take pressure off the shaft and everything. If felt like the internal gears were gone, it was totally locked up. We finally gave up and decided to load the boat up. Thank God the boat ramp was empty because the scene that unfolded would have been one of those legendary boat ramp stories at our expense. I put the trailer in as deep as possible. Right before the boat hits the trailer the talon digs and turns the boat in the wrong direction. After the 3rd attempt the we heard the fiberglass pole snap, and we were so happy to be able to load. I took a picture in the event we would need it for insurance reasons. We had to cut the power wire and take off the talon with hand tools at the bottom of the ramp. We finally loaded it in the back of the truck. Hopefully it gets replaced under warranty, and luckily no damage was done to the boat. My father took it well, in his younger years he would have been raging mad. We were a little disappointed because we were so early in our trip and wanted to keep using the talon.
That afternoon, we decided to end the Welsh curse and headed over to lake Gilmer. The water temp was again around 65 degrees which really surprised us. The rain and muddy water has brought up the surface temps on all the lakes. The lake was very high and the muddiest water I've ever seen on the lake. We wasted most of our time running a spinnerbait west of the highway, which had worked well in the past. Then we caught a couple of nice fish right before dark using a fluke, and a nice 7lb fish on a black/blue chatterbait on the south east end of the lake.
3/5 We decided to go back to Gilmer. We came to the conclusion that we needed to slow down, so I started out with a weightless watermelon/black senko. We caught several fish right away, including some nice females full of eggs and smaller males so we knew were onto something. Around noon this massive wall of rain and lightning come out of nowhere, and we are trying to grab our rainsuits. I was soaked in about 30 seconds, and after 2 minutes the rainclouds go by. For some reason this raincloud really fired up the bass and we caught 3 fish really quick. I blasted a long cast near the bank and let the senko sit on bottom. I got a massive hit and set the hook. I couldn't move the fish with a 50lb braid and 7ft rod, it was a great battle and ended up catching my personal best fish. The fish went 10 lbs 1 oz on my digital scale. I'll relive that moment over and over. Ironically, the rest of the day was really poor. High pressure set in, and the fishing totally shut down.
3/6 After the slow afternoon on Gilmer and high pressure we knew the bite would be tough. We started out on Lake Holbrook because this is traditionally a huge numbers lake for us, and we heard that Florida strain bass had been stocked about 10 years ago. Both ramps had 6-8 bass rigs on them which really surprised me, I normally see about 6 boats on the lake including the locals. The lake was very high and muddy. Water temps started in the morning around 59 and shot up to the mid 60's quickly. Fishing was really slow, we did catch a few bass on grass edges flipping tubes. We talked to a cabin owner that said fishing was really great on the Thursday prior. I bet if we would've stuck it out we could have caught a lot of fish in the afternoon. The lake is ready to go, but we didn't hit it at the right time.
That afternoon we, drove over to lake fork taxidermy and ordered a replica of my new record fish. Then, we drove over to lake Quitman for the evening bite. At the ramp we only saw 3 rigs, 2 from Indiana and 1 from Georgia, not a good sign when no locals are fishing. Water level was super high and muddy again. Water temp was again that perfect mid 60's. Quitman has always been one of my favorite lakes, it's easy to learn and we have caught numerous 7-9lb fish over the years. We started catching fish right away, however, they were only found on the main lake points.
3/7 We went back to Quitman. Water temp started at 58 degrees in the morning, and I thought it would be worse with the temps dropping down to 32 the night before. We were the only bass rig on the lake, the only other fisherman was a crappie guide from lake fork. Fishing was amazing. I could only describe the bite as "smash and grab" The big females were on the points and also on the grass lines in 1-2' of water. The fish would crush the bait and run at the boat at full speed. I consider myself a pretty good stick, but I have never missed so many fish in one day. I was fishing a black/blue brush hog for most of the day. As soon as I felt the bait get crushed, I would crank down as fast as I could and set the hook as hard a possible and still not get a good hook into them. I finally switched to a black and blue jig to increase my hook-up percentage. We ended up catching over 30 bass from 3-6lbs. We did catch some smaller males also while fishing chatterbaits and spinnerbaits between the docks and on the edges of the bank without structure.
3/8 We were so worn out from the previous day that we decided to slow down and take it easy on the flipping arm. With no wind in the forecast, we decided to go back to Gilmer and fish weightless senkos. The lake cleared up considerably without the wind and we had about 2ft water clarity, much better than earlier in the week. I caught 2 fish on the senko in the morning, one nice female and 1 small male bass. We quickly figured out that the fish were not on the bank and had pulled off on the first deeper breakline. We put the boat 10-15 feet of water and slowly worked black/blue beaver style baits through the grassline down the drop. This method was money, and we had another huge day. We caught about 40 bass from 4-7lbs mostly on the southeast end of the lake. I felt we could have caught a lot more but there were a ton of boats beating the bank and running their tolling motors through the fish zone.
I'm going through a weeks worth of Gopro footage so I plan to update this when I get the chance.