Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Can You Guess Where Lake Texoma Is?

Every year in the month of May, my Dad and a couple of friends and I converge on Kingston, Oklahoma to fish for striped bass in Lake Texoma. As the name implies, Texoma is on the border of Texas and Oklahoma. As you can see below, it's striper paradise...
Striper Paradise, by Reed A. George
Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS3, iso 100, f3.3, 1/250 sec
 
My new Lumix TS3 waterproof camera worked well for me on this trip. It is nice to have a decent, unobtrusive, waterproof camera to take out on the boat, without having to worry about a waterproof case.
 
We have been fishing Texoma together for about eight years now. Since then, my Dad has upgraded boats to a wonderful 17' Boston Whaler Montauk, we've changed accommodations, and the lake has seen several ups and downs. In fact, last year, the previous winter's freeze decimated both the shad (main food source for the stripers) and the striper populations. We fished in 40 degree temperatures with 40 mile per hour winds, and our catch was meager compared to previous years. At this point, the lake has recovered fully, the shad are thick, and the big stripers are back.
 
One thing we never change about the trip is that we spend our mornings with Terry Scarberry, the best darned fishing guide on the lake. You'll see why in a minute. And yes, I'll share his contact information at the end of this post.
 
Fishing with Terry means getting up early. We try to be at the dock by no later than 5:30 AM. Of course, at that point, he's already been out catching live shad for our bait, and is ready to go.
 
Daylight Run, by Reed A. George
Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS3, iso 400, f3.3, 1/25 sec
This year, one of our regular fishing group, Kevin Reinhart, couldn't make the trip. Something about the horrors of having to go to Fiji for "work." Yeah, whatever.
The "other Kevin," Kevin Potts, another regular, did make it. Here's Potts on our first morning, ready to catch the first striper of the trip.
Potts, Ready to Go At Sunrise, by Reed A. George
Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS3, iso 160, f4.2, 1/60 sec
 
Once Terry got us situated, lines baited and in the water, he showed me what the depth finder indicated. For the uninitiated, the right panel shows a depth for 78.7 feet. More importantly, the red cloud in the middle of the screen indicates a school of fish. They came in so densely packed that it occasionally caused the finder to think the water was only 20 feet deep!
 
 
Hang On, Boys, Here They Come! by Reed A. George
Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS3, iso 125, f3.3, 1/60 sec
And come they did. Our boat and the boat next to us were so busy catching fish, there literally was no time for photography. Now, I'm sure you recognize what a conflict that represents for me - fishing, photography, fishing, photography, what to do? Listen to the guide and fish!
 
 
The Beginning of the Run, by Reed A. George
Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS3, iso 100, f3.3, 1/320 sec
Texoma's striped bass are actually the same species found in saltwater (also known as rockfish on the East Coast). They were introduced into Texoma, and it's one of the few places where they spawn naturally in fresh water. In fact, they were on their way back from the trip upstream into the Washita River for the annual spawn. They don't reach the same size as in the ocean, but fish in the twenty to thirty pound range do show up from time to time.
Below is an example of these beautiful, healthy fish, and what they do to the live shad we use to catch them.
Caught, by Reed A. George
Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS3, iso 100, f3.3, 1/125 sec
 
This year, Dad caught the biggest striper we've ever gotten on one of these trips. Fifteen pounds.
 
Dad Brings In The Big One, by Reed A. George
Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS3, iso 100, f3.3, 1/250 sec
Here's what Dad's fish looked like at the dock. The length scale on the cooler goes up to 28 inches.
Longer Than The Cooler, by Reed A. George
Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS3, iso 125, f3.3, 1/125 sec
 
Our morning was over quite early, as we caught our limit within a couple of hours. Here's our first day's catch.
 
 
First Day's Catch, by Reed A. George
Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS3, iso 100, f3.3, 1/100 sec
 
We spend our afternoons at the lake fishing from Dad's boat (the catch rate is significantly lower than when we're with Terry), eating fresh fried fish and breaded okra, and sharing a beer and an old story or two. In fact, this is the only time I drink beer, and I usually limit it to one. I don't limit the stories.
 
Potts and I have been friends since the 1970s (or "the nineteen somethings" as my 11 year old daughter likes to say). My Dad has memories of bailing us out of our teenage craziness. It's always a blast to get together.
 
 
Afternoon Sunshine, by Reed A. George
Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS3, iso 100, f16, 1/200 sec
Cruising around the lake in the evenings is both relaxing and beautiful. The weather this year was perfect, as you can see in the sunset picture below.
Texoma Sunset, by Reed A. George
Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS3, iso 160, f3.3, 1/250 sec
We always have such a relaxing time. We missed having Kevin "Rhino" Reinhart with us this year, and expect him back next year. We are all looking forward to it already.
(Click Here) for the contact information for Terry Scarberry's guide service. If you get a chance to go out with him, you won't be disappointed.
 
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