January 24, 2013 by David A. Brown
DEL RIO, Texas - You know the water's dropping briskly when anglers spot fresh, green hydrilla lying high and (nearly) dry. That report from Ranger pro Stephen Johnston frames the scenario facing EverStart Series Texas Division competitors on Lake Amistad.
For the past several days, the International Boundary Water Commission has been dropping the lake to provide for downstream agricultural irrigation needs. Johnston said that given the lake's seasonal patterns, the effects of this falling water have been profound.
"I've been here right at about a week and the water has fallen about 2 1/2 feet," Johnston said. "The water had just started falling the day after I got here and now it's at the point where it's falling 4 to 5 inches a day.
"What we have is warming temperatures and we're coming up to a full moon so a lot of fish are coming in trying to spawn. But with the falling water, the fish are kind of at a stopping point. There's hydrilla all over the lake, but the falling water is pulling them out of the (grass). They want to be in the hydrilla, but the current is so (strong) with the water pulling out that you can find green hydrilla lying up on the bank, still wet."
Now, falling water does tend to concentrate fish, but Johnston said that Amistad's current conditions have left bass rattled.
"The fish are really spooky - when you catch one, they're nervous. These fish live in big schools here and when you catch one, there's usually 5 to 10 behind it, but you're not seeing that right now."
Ritter Ferguson, who topped the EverStart event on Lake of the Pines in October, agrees: "The way they're dropping the water, those fish don't know if they want to come up or stay deep. I've heard of guys catching them anywhere from 2 feet to 80 feet."
Johnston hopes to find quality fish by targeting the outside grass edges with a V&M Lightning Blade. Because the fish have been short-striking, he's fishing his bait with no trailer. A smaller profile, he surmises, should make the fish more willing to gobble the entire bait.
Ferguson said his practice was hit-and-miss, with deeper spots producing best for him. He'll start his day with a squarebill crankbait and then move offshore with a football-head jig and a Carolina rig.
Texas pro Dave Parsons said he fared well doing practice by working bluff walls adjacent to deep water. Employing a crankbait, Carolina rig, Senko and jig, he'll expect the midday period to produce his best action.
"From about 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. seems to be when I'm catching the majority of my fish," Parsons said. "If we can get that 7- to 12-mph wind, that seems to help. On this lake, if the wind blows, you catch 'em."
Most agree that Amistad will likely yield several big bags today - multiple catches of 20-plus pounds are the expectation. However, this lake has a way of hiding its bounty, so it won't be any cake walk. Nevertheless, anglers like Ryan Lovelace and Strike King pro Denny Brauer reported catching fish over 10 pounds in practice, so the potential for fireworks definitely exists.
Anglers will take off from the East Diablo Launch Ramp located at Highway 90 West HCR 3 in Del Rio, Texas, at 7:30 a.m. each morning. Weigh-in will be held at the East Diablo Launch Ramp on Thursday and Friday beginning at 3:30 p.m. Saturday's final weigh-in will be held at Walmart located at 2410 Dodson Street in Del Rio beginning at 4 p.m. Takeoffs and weigh-ins are free and open to the public.
Pros will fish for a top award of $40,000 plus a Ranger Z518 with a 200-horsepower Evinrude or Mercury outboard if Ranger Cup guidelines are met. Co-anglers will cast for a top award consisting of a Ranger Z117 with 90-horsepower Evinrude or Mercury outboard and $5,000 if Ranger Cup guidelines are met.
The EverStart Series consists of five divisions - Central, Northern, Southeast, Texas and Western. Each division consists of four tournaments and competitors will be vying for valuable points in each division that could earn them the Strike King Angler of the Year title, which allows them to fish the 2014 Forrest Wood Cup.
The EverStart Series tournament on Lake Amistad is being hosted by the Del Rio Chamber of Commerce.
Sunrise: 7:36 a.m.
Temperature at takeoff: 55 degrees
Expected high temperature: 77 degrees
Water temperature: 55-57 degrees
Wind: SE 5-10 mph
Humidity: 63 percent
Day's outlook: Partly cloudy