UPCOMING EVENT: YETI College Fishing - 2019 - Sam Rayburn Reservoir


Fall Options in Play at Texoma


For the second year in a row, the Costa FLW Series Southwestern Division is wrapping the season up in the early fall. Presented by Frabill, the season finale hits Lake Texoma on September 21-23 for a tournament that should see diverse fishing and both smallmouths and largemouths in play.

“It’s early fall and they’ll be everywhere,” says Todd Castledine, who’s currently leading the points race. “They’ll be main lake, they’ll be in the backs of pockets; everywhere.

“I love this time of year, but you can go from crushing them to trying to catch a fish. I’ve done really well there this time of year, or really bad.”

This 74,000-acre reservoir formed by Denison Dam on the Red River currently stands right at normal conservation pool level of 616.55 feet. That allows for plenty of shallow water targets, but Texas pro Ray Hanselman says there’ll be none of that deeply flooded shoreline cover he fished during the final event of his amazing sweep in 2015. That being said, Texoma offers lots of laydowns, points, bluffs, flats and docks spread throughout the main lake and its major creek arms. Targets aplenty should spread the field out quite a bit.

“I think the guy who wins this is going to be a jack of all trades, he’s going to be one of the more diverse anglers, or he’s going to be somebody really knowledgeable about that lake,” says Kyle Cortiana, who earned the Southwestern Division AOY in 2016. “There are fish that are just starting that fall pattern and transitioning to the backs of creeks and feeding on shad really shallow, but you still have fish really deep and you have them in between, staging under docks and over brush piles.

“There’s not just one thing you can do and get a lot of bites. I think you have to be able to bounce around if you want to find the right bites.”


Billy Cline

Mixed bags in play

In two days of pre-practice a couple weeks before the tournament, Cortiana and another angler caught two 5-pound smallmouths and a 7-pound largemouth. This tells him that an open-minded approach could be the key to unlocking Texoma.

“This lake has some big smallmouths, so that opens the door for those deeper bluff walls. the big boulders and all that stuff that smallmouth love hiding around when they’re ambushing bait,” Cortiana says. “So, if a guy gets on a good stretch with a lot of activity, he can catch a big sack of smallmouths really quick. The guy who wins it will have some smallmouths in his bag.”

Hanselman also believes in the bronzebacks, but he thinks an angler can target either smallmouth or largemouth and end up with a competitive bag. Don’t be surprised to see someone fare well with completely different programs from one day to the next.


Ray Hanselman celebrates an early keeper.

Tactics in play

Given that the fall transition will be underway, you can expect your topwaters (walkers, poppers, frogs) to tempt plenty of fish, while spinnerbaits, swim jigs and swimbaits should also come into play for moving baits. For probing docks and other shallow cover, you can expect to see all the usual flipping and skipping offerings at work.

“This lake has the right size fish, so you don’t have to throw a shaky head or a drop-shot to catch one,” Hanselman says. “You can if you want to, but you can also throw big stuff. That’s more my speed.

“I’ll have a bunch of big stuff tied on and if I can get one to react on a big bait, that’ll be my deal. If not, I’ll probably have a shaky head tied on with a frown on my face.”


Morning bite will be key

Hanselman says Texoma will offer pockets of tremendous daybreak topwater action. The only thing is that once it’s over, Texoma can turn stingy.

Castledine says boat order will play a big role, as those fortunate to get on their key stuff early will likely have at least the opportunity to sack ‘em up. Miss that window, and it could be tough.

“Somebody might get a lucky first hour and have his day done by 9 a.m.,” Cortiana says. “Then, he can go do whatever he wants to do to try and catch one of those 7- to 10-pounders.

“That lake has some big ol’ fish in it, but that can bite you in the butt if you get on a stretch with a bunch of little ones and you can’t make yourself leave because you know there’s a chance to catch a big one.”

Although the week’s forecast shows nothing severe, Hanselman advises anglers to pay attention to each day’s wind. Texoma is a big lake and it doesn’t take much of a blow to whip it into a spine-jarring washing machine.

Another consideration for Castledine is the potential for striped bass to ruin the bite in a hurry. Growing bigger than any of the black bass species, aggressive stripers will run largemouth and smallmouth out of feeding areas, so yesterday’s gold mine could be tomorrow’s dust bowl.

“It’s a very temperamental time of year,” Castledine says. “It’s really hard to stay on a pattern for three days. You’re just going to have to go fishing.”


Tournament details

Format: All 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: 7:00 a.m. CT

Takeoff Location: Highport Marina, 120 Texoma Harbor Drive, Pottsboro, TX 75076

Weigh-In Time: 3:00 p.m. CT

Weigh-In Location: Highport Marina

Complete details

Tags: david-a-brown  pre-tournament  2017-09-21-lake-texoma 


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