TXTT — LAKE TRAVIS PREVIEW

TXTT — LAKE TRAVIS PREVIEW

Feb 25

Charles Whited says Lake Travis is primed and ready, but this week’s weather will play a significant role in determining this Colorado River impoundment’s productivity in the regular-season opener of the 2019 Texas Team Trail, presented by Cabela’s.

“These cold fronts keep hitting and knocking the temperature down,” Whited said of recent meteorological patterns. “When I was there a week ago, it was cold and rainy and the water temperature was 54. It should be 55-57 and it may hit 60, but you have to have three warm days of that to get them fired up; one warm day just won’t it.”

As of Monday, the forecast calls for a mid-week warming trend followed by a nearly 20-degree drop in overnight lows by the weekend. Nothing is certain until it happens, so any stalling in that next cool down could positively impact this tournament.

LAKE PROFILE

Impounded in 1942 and managed by the Lower Colorado River Authority, Travis sits northwest of Austin, Texas in Travis and Burnet counties. With a maximum depth of 190 feet, the lake covers 18,622 acres.

Thanks to the filtering work of invasive zebra mussels, Lake Travis remains mostly clear, especially in the deeper lower end near the Mansfield  Dam. There’s not much in the way of aquatic vegetation, so rocky bottom, bluffs, and ledges dominate the habitat features. In the lower end, marinas and floating boat docks diversify the options.

In high water scenarios like Travis is currently experiencing, flooding terrestrial vegetation can factor into the game plan — especially if the fish have moved up to spawn. Anglers find more of this habitat in the lake’s upper end and into the Colorado River.

Largemouth bass dominate the Lake Travis bite and stockings of Florida-strain fish dating back to 1998 create the potential for hefty catches. The lake record was a 14.21-pounder caught in 1993.

The lake has a few smallmouth, but there’s not enough for tournament focus. Travis does, however, hold a good population of Guadelupe bass. A 3.69-pounder taken in 1983 is the lake’s biggest recorded “Guad,” but the average size is about half that.

GO WITH THE FLOW

Water level may also have some impact on the event’s outcome. As of Feb. 25, Travis stood at 681.73 — nearly a foot over full pool and considerably higher than the historical February average of 668.63. According to the Lower Colorado River Authority, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has allowed LCRA to temporarily store the water from the upstream drawdowns of lakes LBJ and Marble Falls in the flood pool of Lake Travis, up to 682.3 feet from December 30 through April 1.

“The lake is staying at a constant level right now so it’s actually fishing tougher than normal,” Whited said. “Usually, it takes 20 pounds to win a tournament, but the last few tournaments we’ve had, it took 17-18. The numbers are down too, but that could change in a week.

“It could blow up. They’ll start getting up on beds shallow and everybody will have a good time.”

The key, Whited said, could be current flow. At this time, the LCRA forecasts a steady lake level for the next week; but if that changes and some of Travis’ water starts dropping, it could spur aggressive feeding, wherever the bass are positioned.

“Hopefully, we get a little water flowing and everybody starts whacking on them,” Whited said. “It is tough right now and the normal patterns are just not there right now. People are catching them; there’s a good river bite, but people are only getting five or five bites flipping, but usually it’s 15 or 20.”

Whited reports that running squarebills over shallow rocks has been producing well, while dropshots and jigging spoons are also producing offshore bites. Such patterns can surely win tournaments, if that’s what the scenario calls for. However, Whited said he’d prefer to see the lake show out with more seasonal patterns.

“Everything is still in limbo right now,” he said. “It’s not the normal Travis because of the lake level.”

IF THEY COME

Whited said he’s experienced recent flirts with Lake Travis spawning movements. Unfortunately, they were short-lived.

“If we get those warm nights and that water jumps up to 60, man they’ll move up,” he said. “We’ve had two different times in the last three weeks when I’ve been out there and all of a sudden, there’s buck bass and you’re starting to catch them, but then we’d get a cold front and you couldn’t get a bite.

“If we hit that right, it could be a fun time. It doesn’t have to be lower end or upper; that water temperature has been pretty much the same when we’d get those warm days.”

If the bed-fishing game comes into play, Whited expects a dropshot, a jig, a white tube, or a chartreuse pepper or white lizard to deliver. Notably, touching up plastic tails with chartreuse dye is a guaranteed bed fish bait in Travis’ clear water.

Should the requisite warmth fail to arrive, anglers will likely split their time between traditional offshore patterns and prespawn staging. For the latter, crankbaits, football jigs, Carolina rigs and jerkaits will tempt the fish.

MIXED BAGS

Even though largemouth will, no doubt, provide the majority of the tournament weight, Whited said the deeper-roaming Guadelupe bass could show up in a few tournament limits. They’re most limit-finishers, but if a guy gets in trouble, the Guads could help.

Predicting around 23 pounds as a winning weight, Whited said Travis’ current conditions will leave this event wide open.

“Right now, there are no local favorites; that’s the good thing,” Whited said. “There are no brush piles in play because the lake came up. A lot of times, you go to a lake and the local have the advantage; I don’t think that’s the case right now. I think everybody who shows up will have the change to win the event.”