It was almost 50 years ago when biologists from Texas and Oklahoma both stocked a couple hundred striped bass in Lake Texoma on the border between the two states. Even if they were optimistic, they couldn’t have foreseen what they had done. The striped bass fishing on Texoma over the years has been nothing short of phenomenal. Not only are fishermen able to catch stripers using numerous baits and techniques, when they do get one to bite, they are in for a knock-down drag-out fight with perhaps the feistiest game fish in America.
Lake Texoma is huge. It covers almost 90,000 meandering acres about five miles northwest of Denison, Texas and 15 miles southwest of Durant, Oklahoma. It is also just an hour drive away from the Dallas-FortWorth area, which explains in part why more than six million visitors a year come to this lake.
Many anglers still prefer largemouth bass, crappie and catfish as their main target, but if they fishing for those species is slow, they’ll quickly join in with the majority of other anglers on the lake looking for stripers.
All the bass grow big here, largely because of the enormous populations of threadfin and American gizzard shad and silverside minnows present in the lake. The record for striped bass is 35.12 pounds, for largemouth 11.90 pounds, for smallmouth 7.06 pounds and for hybrid striper 14.88 pounds. Stripers, though, rule the waters for the most part. You can catch striped bass all year long. Artificial lures work well, but many anglers catch their own live bait and use it, especially when fishing is not fast and furious.
Springtime is when the fish really start to gain attention with most anglers. Warmer water leads the fish to start gathering up and it’s a good time to start catching them on topwater. That fishing is best in the early mornings near the shorelines and when it slows, anglers go to lures like spoons, jigs or slabs and fish up and down over the schools of fish. By summertime, the water has warmed up and fish are finished spawning along the shores and in the rivers The main lake area becomes the main target area using a “drop and rip” technique. Fishermen simply lower the spoons or jigs into schools of fish, quickly raise the lure in a ripping motion and it drives the fish crazy. This bite lasts all through the summer months until cool weather arrives.
By September, fish are usually moving back into post-spawn flats and shallower ledges. The cooler water keys them in to the fact that is is time to fatten up for winter and they bite like crazy. Fish follow the shad for the most part and if you don’t have a fish finder on your bait, you can find a good general area by watching the birds this time of year. Where you find birds, you’ll find bait. And where you find bait, you’ll find fish. Winter fishing isn’t bad either. In fact, it’s January and February when most of the huge trophy stripers are caught. Fishing pressure is down and big fish hide out in mouths of creeks, around ditches, and on the edges of humps in the big lake area.
Largemouth bass fishing has received a boost in recent years as more and more Florida strain largemouth are introduced. Recently more than 200 Florida bass over 18 inches long were stocked in the lake to speed that process.
Lake Texoma is the only self-sustaining striped bass population in this reason, thanks to a quirky twist of nature. The Red River which formed the lake at one time was a saltwater river, with salt deposits from centuries before. Those deposits were largely covered up by silt, but continuously leaks out into the lake. Due to this phenomenon, striped bass (which is naturally a saltwater fish) thrive here.
Catfishing in Texoma has a following of its own, too. A big blue catfish weighing 121.5 pounds was caught here and held the world record for rod- and-reel catch for a short time. There are extremely large catfish here, although the average fish that anglers go after weigh between 5 and 20 pounds. Fish in the 60-70 pound class aren’t uncommon. Striper fishermen using live bait often hook into big catfish, especially in the warmer months.
Several small islands on Lake Texoma are good areas to start looking for fish. Some of the larger ones are West Island, Wood Island, Hog Island, Treasure Island, Little Island, and North Island. One word of caution here, Oklahoma and Texas cooperate on some rules and regulations, but some depend on where you are fishing or launching your boat. Make sure you understand license requirements, limits and regulations before you get on the water.