UPCOMING EVENT: TOYOTA SERIES - 2020 - Lake Eufaula

Mighty Amistad Issues a Challenge

Mighty Amistad Issues a Challenge
Amistad may be low, but she is on her way up. Hopefully the fishing is as well.

Legendary south Texas reservoir Lake Amistad has hosted some of FLW’s most infamous smash-fests – the kind of tournaments where anglers weren’t challenged to catch fish, but were pushed to keep up with the competition when 20- and even 30-pound stringers were being hauled across the stage.

This week, when the Rayovac FLW Series Texas Division opens its 2015 campaign on mighty Amistad, the challenge will be much, much different. Following a grueling practice, several pros estimate that we might see only 20 limits brought to the stage today by the 112 pros in the field. Others think 15 pounds per day could contest for the win in this three-day derby.

It’s certainly not the Amistad of old, but two facts simply have not changed: Giants still swim in this lake, and someone is walking away with a big win at the end of the event, which is presented by Frabill and hosted by the Del Rio Chamber of Commerce.

Perhaps no one in the field is as familiar with Lake Amistad’s ups and downs as Del Rio native Ray Hanselman. An Amistad guide for 22 years (AmistadFishingGuide.com), Hanselman has fished the lake since age 5.

“I’ve seen it go from one extreme to the other,” he says. “It’s fishing like it did in the ’80s, when we had no hydrilla. The fish are out in the canyons, and they’re really random. They don’t relate to much.”

Amistad was drawn down significantly just a couple of years ago to help irrigate crop fields in the midst of a terrific drought. As a result, most of the fish species in the lake were sucked out of shallow cover and have taken up residence in the deep canyon basin of the main lake. The baitfish haven’t returned to the shallows, thus neither have the bass.

Despite some theories that the bass have died or somehow vanished altogether, another Amistad favorite and Del Rio local Tim Reneau says they’re still here, they’re simply operating with a different playbook these days.

“Everybody believes they’re all gone, but that’s not true. All you have to do is look 80 to 150 feet deep, and that’s where all the life is,” says Reneau, adding that the only way to catch those deep-dwellers is to find them after they wander onto a nearby structure. “The fish we’re catching are all fat and healthy. The problem is they just don’t show up in the same places twice. They’re like ghosts.”

A couple of brief influxes of water gave temporary respite to the lake since the big drawdown, but the fluctuations have been dramatic enough and sudden enough that, in the opinion of several respected pros, the fish simply haven’t figured out what to do. Presently, thanks to a 12-foot rise last autumn, Amistad is about 28 feet below what is considered “normal.”

The initial drop squashed most of the lake’s hydrilla, which then grew back nearly to the surface. Last autumn’s rise covered those hydrilla beds. They now span from about 15 feet deep on the inside edge to 30 feet deep on the outside edge.

Hanselman believes that after another year-class of fish is spawned in the hydrilla, bass will hang around the grass and Amistad will start to return to its former glory. In the short term, that hydrilla is where many anglers are hedging their bets this week.

“There are a few fish easing back into the grass,” Hanselman says. “There’s actually more grass now than in the last four years, but a lot of the bait left. I found some fish in the grass, and some of the other guys have too.”

Grass fishing is probably the most reliable program right now, and there are two approaches that are working: cranking for a reaction bite and fishing slower with soft plastics. 

The other viable option this week is to target fish on and suspended near traditional prespawn lake structure – points, channel edges and the like. Umbrella rigs, jigs, Carolina rigs, drop-shots and a variety of other lures are working in these areas when the fish are there. However, there’s no guarantee they’ll stay put. That’s the frustrating part. The bass can vanish as fast as they can appear. At times, pros will have to do as much looking with electronics as fishing.

So what’s it going to take to win? That’s that tricky question. Big limits have been caught in recent tournaments, including a two-person team event held Jan. 24 that produced a winning stringer of nearly 26 pounds, a pair of 8-pounders and a 10-pounder. And while there aren’t many small keepers being caught right now, the fish that guys are catching are chunky footballs. Denny Brauer, a recent permanent resident of Del Rio, says he caught a 12-12 just a few weeks ago. So the real giants are still out there.

If a pro can top off a modest limit with one of those 6-plus fish, he’ll be in the hunt for sure. Almost everyone surveyed expects at least a couple of 20-pound stringers to be brought in each day. Total winning weight estimates ranged from upper 30s to more than 45 pounds over three days.

A lot will depend on the weather. A cold front is crossing the region this morning. A few sprinkles fell at takeoff, and rain is forecast to continue until around lunchtime, with wind forecasts varying from 10 to 20 mph. Gradually rising temps are called for later in the week, so if today’s front doesn’t knock the fish back too far, some fish could start pushing shallow by Saturday.

In summary: No one really knows what to expect this week, except that each day will present a different challenge. Expect to see pros bring in big limits, but then fall off the next day, and vice versa – don’t count anyone out until all the fish are weighed.

Lake Amistad’s legendary giants are still out there, waiting for someone to cross paths with them this week.

 

Conditions

Temperature at Takeoff: 52 degrees

Forecast High: 56 degrees

Precipitation: 50 percent chance of rain

Wind: NW at 10 to 15 mph

Sky: cloudy

Water Temperature: 54 degrees

 

Details

Format:

All 250 boaters and co-anglers will compete for two days. The top 10 boaters and co-anglers based on cumulative weight after two days of competition will advance to the third and final round, with the winner determined by the heaviest cumulative three-day weight.

 

Takeoff Time: 7:30 a.m. CT

 

 

Takeoff Location:

Diablo East Boat Ramp

Highway 90 West HCR 3

Del Rio, Texas

 

Weigh-in Time:

Days 1 and 2: 3:30 p.m.

Day 3: 4 p.m.

 

Weigh-in Location:

Days 1 and 2:

Diablo East Boat Ramp

Highway 90 West HCR 3

Del Rio, Texas

 

Day 3:

Del Rio Walmart

2410 Dodson Ave.

Del Rio, Texas

 

More Information

For complete details and updated information visit the Rayovac FLW Series tournament page. For regular updates, photos, tournament news and more, follow the Rayovac FLW Series on Facebook at Facebook.com/FLWFishing and on Twitter at Twitter.com/FLWFishing.

Tags: lake-amistad  curtis-niedermier  morning-story  2015-02-12-lake-amistad 

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