OUTDOORS: Summertime fishing on Lake Conroe

Summertime is not the easiest fishing time on Lake Conroe, or any other lake in Texas for that matter, but it is not bad.

The fish are still there, but their patterns change so we anglers must adapt to those changes.

Summer is a precarious time for the fish of most Texas lakes and Lake Conroe is no different. The surface temperature heats up and loses oxygen. This drives the fish down deep to locate the preferred oxygen level, temperature range, and where they can still get to their food supply. In our lake that is usually anywhere form 16-to-22 feet deep.

Black bass will be harder to rouse into action because of the heat and oxygen levels, and that is especially true as the day heats up and the sun beats down after sun up. That means it will generally be necessary to work your lures extremely slow, but not always. As with most sports where wild game is involved, there may be trends, but one can almost never use the word “always.”

When fishing open water structures, humps and points, Carolina rigged plastic worms will be the best soft plastics to use. Early in the morning and late toward evening, Texas rigged worms around rocks, boat docks, the dam and other shallow structures and vegetation will be the best.

When it comes to size and color of soft plastics everyone has their own favorites, some of the most popular under these hot conditions are usually Junebug, Purple, Tequila Sunrise and one of the watermelon colors like Watermelon Red.

Let us not forget about crank baits. Like the Texas rigged worms, when used early and late the deep running cranks like the good old reliable DD22 is a winner. Tennessee Shad and Firetiger are good colors to try. Here again they must be worked slowly and just fast enough to get them to the desired depth.

Time has proven that one of the most versatile and productive crankbaits is the Bill Lewis Rat-L-Trap. I have found that in this heat I like a 5/8 or 3/4 ounce silver Rat-L-Trap with spinner. Fish this lure early or late. It will sink at a rate of 12-to-18 feet per second, so let it settle to the top of the grass or brush and with a fast retrieve, run it rapidly across the top of the grass. Another way to fish that lure is to let it settle to the depth, and pump and retrieve. Pump the rod tip from 45-to-90 degrees then retrieve going back down. The hit will usually come on the pump.

The crappie will all be on top of the brush piles at anywhere from 16-to-25 feet deep. Minnows and jigs will be the best baits to use. Crappie will also be found around the FM 1097 bridge pylons and other structures around the lake at the same depths. However, do not expect to limit out on crappie because we do not have the population we have seen other years. If we can keep the vegetation increasing as it is slowly doing — thanks to the efforts of the Seven Coves Bass Club with the support of the San Jacinto River Authority and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, and the restocking efforts of Stow-A-Way Marina and the donations of their customers — we may get the crappie population up again.

Minnows will be the best bait for crappie, although from time to time they will hit small, 1/32 of an ounce jigs. Chartreuse, yellow and white are good starting colors.

Large bream will be right in there with the crappie and Lake Conroe has no shortage of big bream. It is not uncommon to catch large, thick, hand size bream on the brush. For my money those will fillet right along with the crappie.

The bream may also be found along riprap, docks and under shade from the bank. Although some are large enough to take a minnow night crawlers and meal worms may be the best baits.

The hybrids will be suspended in the main lake areas down at the optimum oxygen level. If you see a lot of sizable fish on your fish finder, the chances are pretty good that it will be hybrids.

Keep in mind that a large number of hybrids have been stocked by the TPWD recently and there are a large number of juvenile hybrids in the 10-to-16 inch range, so if you are not positive that you can identify the difference between a white bass and a hybrid, put them back in the lake.

Catfish will be good this month, but they will be best in the deeper water. Try fishing for blue and channel cats in depths of 20-to-25 feet, on humps and along ridges close to the deep water. Such areas will be along the edges of the river and creeks where there are drop offs to the old beds. Baited holes will also be good. Sour mash and range cubes are always good to bait up an area.

So just because it is hot does not mean the fish are not there. They are still there it is up to the angler to adjust to the conditions.

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