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Tailing Loops February 2021

Conroe Texas Program

Program News and Notes:

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PHWFF National Tying and Rod Building Competitions

TYING:

Advanced - 2nd Place

Gary King

Beadhead Prince Nymph | PHWFF Conroe TX

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Intermediate - 2nd Place Jason Farrar

Hand Carved Balsa Popper | PHWFF Conroe, TX

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ROD BUILDING

National Finalists

Category 1 Gary King

Category 3 Brian Suk

Congratulations men.

Great work !!

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Shirts

Here is the information to order embroidered shirts from our approved vendor, Lori Lee. Photo example attached. The logo can be done with or without Conroe,TX. Same price. She can embroider button up shirts, polos,sweatshirts, tees, whatever you have. She advises to choose a color that will not blend into the colors in the logo. Obviously a light colored solid will work best. Each individual will need to provide their own shirt. Pin a piece of paper where you would like the logo located, i.e. left chest, right chest etc. The cost is $ 13.00 per shirt if dropped off and picked up (contact free on the front porch) from Lori. For mail orders the shirts can be mailed to Lori and she will mail them back. $ 5.00 for return shipping, so a total of $18.00 if ordered by mail. You can pay her by PayPal : paypal.me/embwishes or enter her phone number 281-468-2540. Please select " sending to a friend" when using PayPal. You can also send a check or cash with the shirt. Mail to: Lori Lee 23114 Whispering Willow Spring, Texas 77373

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Flies of the month:

Slumpbuster

Blanton Flashtail Whistler

Link below to Puck's Hare-E. Great bluegill fly as well.

https://texasflyfishers.org/fly-patterns/hare-e/

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Species of the month:

White Bass

Morone Chrysops

Other Names

Sand Bass, Barfish, Streaker, Silver Bass

Description

Game fish - see statewide bag & size limits and lake-specific exceptions

Morone is of unknown derivation. The species epithet chrysops is Greek meaning "golden eye." As with other true basses, the dorsal fin is clearly double, separated into spiny and soft-rayed portions. White bass are silvery shading from dark-gray or black on the back to white on the belly. Several incomplete lines or stripes run horizontally on each side of the body. Adults resemble young striped bass, and the two are often confused. However, striped bass have two distinct tooth patches on the back of the tongue, and white bass have one tooth patch. Striped bass have two sharp points on each gill cover, as opposed to white bass which have one, and the second spine on the anal fin is about half the length of the third spine in striped bass, whereas it is about two-thirds the length of the third spine in white bass.

Life History

White bass are active early spring spawners. Schools of males migrate upstream to spawning areas as much as a month before females. There is no nest preparation. Spawning occurs either near the surface, or in midwater. Running water with a gravel or rock substrate is preferred. Females rise to the surface and several males crowd around as the eggs and sperm are released. Large females sometimes release nearly a million small eggs during the spawning season. After release eggs sink to the bottom and become attached to rocks, hatching in 2-3 days. Fry grow rapidly, feeding on small invertebrates. White bass may grow eight or nine inches during the first year. Adults are usually found in schools. Feeding occurs near the surface where fish, crustaceans, and emerging insects are found in abundance. Gizzard and threadfin shad are the preferred food items. White bass more than four years of age are rare.

Distribution

White bass are native to the the central US west of the Appalachians, including the Great Lakes, as well as river systems in the Ohio and Mississippi river valleys. In Texas the species is native to the Red River drainage.

Other

White bass are the fifth most preferred species among licensed Texas anglers. Schools of white bass feeding on shad generate much excitement in the fishing community. Once a school has been located, successful anglers often fish the surface with spoons or spinners. Bottom fishing at night with live bait may also produce great success. White bass are excellent fighters, and are considered superb table fare.

As February crawls along, hundreds of thousands of winter-weary freshwater anglers focus their hopes on a fish that blessedly busts these depressing doldrums.

The white bass’ particular behavior, as well as its range and accessibility, make it a fish attractive to many Texas freshwater anglers regardless of experience, especially this time of year. They are the first freshwater fish to break winter’s siege of slow fishing, giving anglers the chance to begin a new fishing year with a bang.

Hit it right — find the right spot on the right river on the right day — and it can be almost fish-a-cast action.

This potential for fast fishing is tied to white bass’ spawning behavior, which puts large concentrations of these aggressive fish in relatively small areas.

Statewide success story

That such an opportunity exists across a large reach of Texas is somewhat serendipitous. White bass didn’t exist in the Sabine River or almost any other river system in Texas until relatively recently.

White bass — a “true” bass, unlike largemouth bass, which are a sunfish species — are native only to the Great Lakes and the Mississippi and Ohio river drainages. In Texas, they are native only to the Mississippi-tied Red River drainage, which also includes Big Cypress Bayou and Caddo Lake.

In Texas, white bass were found only in Caddo and the Red River until 1932. That year, fisheries managers with the Texas Game, Fish and Oyster Commission, the precursor of Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, captured 13 white bass from Caddo Lake, transported them alive to then-new Lake Dallas, and released them.

They thrived; the reservoir on the Elm Fork of the Trinity River was perfect habitat for white bass. So, too, were the reservoirs across the state into which white bass were stocked after the success at Lake Dallas.

By the 1950s, white bass populations had been established in reservoirs on most river systems in Texas — the Sabine, Trinity, Sulphur, Neches, San Jacinto, Colorado, Brazos, Nueces, Guadalupe and Rio Grande.

White bass are open-water predators that hunt in schools, a behavior that dominates their lives. They spend almost their whole lives roaming open water, hunting shoals of threadfin shad. Reservoirs created this habitat and forage base in an abundance.

But when it comes time to spawn, white bass need moving water. The rivers that feed Texas reservoirs serve that role.

Spawning fever

Each late winter, white bass begin an exodus from the open water of reservoirs into the rivers that feed those lakes. Males, which are smaller than the females, are the first to head upstream, followed by females that are growing plump with eggs. Millions of them crowd into the relatively tight confines of the river channels.

White bass are one of the first freshwater species to feel the annual spawning urge. While most other fresh water species, such as largemouth bass, catfish, crappie and sunfish, spawn when water temperatures hit and hold at 60-70 degrees, white bass spawn in water as cool as 55 degrees and even a bit lower.

The white bass move up rivers and other waterways, gathering in huge concentrations in eddies, deep holes and channels, awaiting the combination of water temperature, current flow, photoperiod and hormones that trigger active spawning.

That spawning takes place in relatively shallow water — often sandbars or gravel/rock bottom in water with a weak but sufficient current where females release their eggs (as many as 900,000), which are fertilized by a swarming bevy of males.

The fertilized eggs hatch within a couple of days, drifting downstream with the current, eventually ending up in the reservoir where the fish grow to maturity.

All of those hordes of white bass stacked in rivers are hungry; rivers in late winter or early spring often do not offer an abundance of shad or other prey. That makes them very susceptible to anglers offering anything that looks like a shad or other edible morsel.

That aggressive feeding combined with the number of whites that tend to concentrate in small areas of a river can produce almost nonstop hook-ups for anglers who find these staging areas.

Small but fierce

White bass aren’t particularly large; in most Texas fisheries, they average 1-1.5 pounds. They’re larger in East Texas, where the fisheries are richer in nutrients than in most rivers father west.

The Sabine and Trinity rivers see the largest whites, with the Sabine universally seen as holding the best fishery. There, 2-pounders are common and 3-pounders are not impossible. (The record white bass from the Sabine, caught by one of Jane Gallenbach’s clients, weighed 4.04 pounds.)

Despite their modest size, white bass are fine fighters on tackle that doesn’t overwhelm them.

They use their deep bodies and river current as leverage against rod and line, and can make powerful runs — some anglers call white bass “speed perch” because of their behavior when hooked.

They are a light-tackle fish. A light spinning reel or spincast rig spooled with 8- to 10-pound monofilament or a braided line of similar diameter is a good choice. A light baitcaster works fine, too.

The best lures imitate shad. Perhaps the most popular white bass lure is an eighth-ounce or quarter-ounce Roadrunner jig or similar jig trimmed with marabou or a soft-plastic grub. Small shad-imitation crankbaits and in-line spinners such as a Rooster Tail or Mepps Anglia also will draw strikes.

Off to a good start

This year, prospects for the annual white bass spawning run are encouraging. Already, anglers fishing in South Texas where the water warms earlier — such as the Frio River above Choke Canyon or the Nueces River above Lake Corpus Christi — have reported good catches of white bass.

Things are just getting cranked up in East Texas. Water levels in most rivers, which have been in flood stage or nearly so much of autumn and winter, have fallen considerably over the past couple of weeks and are clearing.

Scattered catches of white bass, often males that are the vanguard of the annual upstream migration, have come from traditional spots on the upper Neches. Also, scattered catches have been made on Yegua Creek above Lake Somerville and in the San Jacinto River drainage, including Spring Creek and Cypress Creek.

The spawning run hasn’t rally kicked off in the Trinity River upstream from Lake Livingston. Reports from the Lock and Dam near Centerville, one of the traditional hotspots for spawning-run white bass fishing on the Trinity and a spot with often extremely productive bank-fishing opportunities, indicate fishing this week has been slow. But the river level has dropped considerably in the past week or two, and if it stabilizes and clears a bit, the annual run could kick into high gear any day.

The white bass spawning season typically builds to a peak during March in East Texas and a little later on the Colorado River in Central Texas, with the good fishing sometimes lasting into April.

By that time, spring has come to most of Texas and other fish — largemouth bass, catfish and crappie — call to the state’s freshwater anglers. But it’s the annual white bass fishing saturnalia that often gets so many anglers through the tough times of late winter and early spring.

Truth is, for many the annual white bass spawning run is not just the year’s first opportunity to enjoy very good fishing, it’s the highlight of the entire year.

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We visited with Alan Antonson at Bayou City Angler who has been chasing sandies for a good while. He said any creek going into or out of our four main lakes, Houston,Conroe,Somerville and Livingston should be good through March and sometimes into early April.

3-5 weights are the most common but Alan says he loves to throw a 2wt. 3X tippet on WFF for shallow water and an IM for deeper pools. Look for good clarity and sand bottoms with deeper water nearby. Happy spawning grounds for the white bass.

In addition to the flies above Alan said clousers and buggers are always attractive to the feisty sandies. Be sure and check flows below the dams for safety and water clarity after heavy rains.

Captain Eric Trout

Capt. Trout is former Marine Corps. and a volunteer with our program. He has generously donated multiple days to take our participants sight fishing on Galveston Bay. As soon as we are allowed in person contact again email me at msp355@aol.com to book a fabulous day on the water. He is a great casting, tying, knot teaching sonuvagun. Also if you have any friends looking for a guide please pay his generosity forward by giving them Captain Trout's contact info. Thanks so much Eric!

https://www.galvestonflyfishingadventures.com/the-captain.html

At the blackboard with Bill

TPWD Rainbow Trout stocking schedule

https://tpwd.texas.gov/fishboat/fish/management/stocking/trout_stocking.phtml

February Funny

Knot of the month:

The Improved Clinch Knot

ParticiPics

What a coincidence. Some of our folks ran into each other at a recent trout stocking. Caught a few to boot.

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Back Cast

We put this in the newsletter to show our newer participants that, when permitted, we do actually get together and do things, like go fishing, work on our casting, tie flies, build rods and on and on. The link below the pictures will take you to the NOAA website to read about a fantastic trip.

Salty Dudes
The 20 of the day
Jason F gettin' on the double haul !
Joey M with a fine red snapper caught on a rod he built.
Jon G flinging some feathers

Fly Tying

Playing around with Orvis Dragontails. Bass and Redfish beware !

Back Half

Front Half

Whole tail

This was using the small size. About 4" long.

Casting Instruction

Rod Building

Fishing Local Ponds

Hangin' Out