Your guide to Lake Travis Fishing. Our Lake Travis Fishing Report is brought to you monthly. Written by Professional Austin fishing guide, Tournament Angler and owner of Bushwhacker Bait Co., Kleigh Westphall.
March 1, 2020
It’s the season of the spawn, the best time of year for the average fisherman to catch a not-so-average bass on Lake Travis.
Focus on protected pockets and stable water. Look for hard targets like stumps and or boulders, with sand and gravel nearby. Key baits this month, when the fish are on bed, are bluegill imitations like square bill crankbaits or small swimbaits. Also, baby brush hawgs can be super deadly, due to the action that the tail and appendages impart. You can never go wrong picking up a spinning rod with light line. When everyone else is throwing power fishing techniques like heavy flipping and cranking or spinner baits, the finesse presentations can be quite advantageous.
The best water temps for spawning fish, in my opinion, would be 63-67 degrees. However, this is just a ballpark figure and there are always exceptions. I do know that access to freshwater and sunlight are important for the spawn. I would place a premium on water quality. Good luck and may the best angler win!
February 1, 2020
In the south, February is the start of great things to come.
There are few hope-giving warming trends that somehow find their way through a calendar of brutal cold fronts. I’m looking to those warming trends as the critical hour for big fish potential.
Often in Southern climes, the biggest fish of the year can come during this month… And I don’t mean your 5 pounders. I’m talking about the 7’s, 8’s, and 9+’s. I think the biggest fish of the year spawn first. While they may not be locked on bed at this time, they will hover in and out of the areas which they will be spawning in.
You have to train yourself to move a lot this time of the year, because you can bet the fish are. They move from creek channel to flat, and back to creek channel, constantly. This is dependent on 3 factors: Moon Phase, Water Temperature, and Barometric Pressure. Be dynamic this time of year. Prime presentations this month are low profile finesse jigs, Texas rigged beaver style baits, and Carolina rigged plastic craws.
January 1, 2020
Happy New Year everyone. My primary approach for bass fishing Lake Travis in January is to employ 1 of 2 strategies. You might give one of these a try this month for some good results.
Strategy 1: Throw small baits and retrieve at an average speed.
Ex: Small Drop Shots, Small Shaky Head Worms, Small Jerk Baits
Strategy 2: Throw large baits and retrieve at a slower than average speed.
Ex: Big Jigs, Swimbaits, Big Worms, Big Jerk Baits
As a general rule, Strategy 1 should produce more frequent bites… While Strategy 2 should draw a larger bite.
There are days that Strategy 2 won’t work, so don’t try and force it. Strategy 2 requires a stable weather pattern, and cold fronts will limit you to Strategy 1.
If you are fortunate to have a stable weather pattern, and you employ Strategy 2, chances are you could catch a giant.
If you are planning on fishing visible cover, look for areas that receive direct sunlight. Concrete, large rocks, tires, and black dock floats all hold heat the best. Also, time your fishing so that the areas you plan to fish have had some time to warm up before you fish them.
December 1, 2019
The late fall/winter period is here. So how should you best approach the change in seasons? The process begins with the fish finder, your underwater eyes. Be focused on creek channels, or the river beds at the bottom of the lake. During the cold months the baitfish congregate in these river channels and move in condensed “clouds”.
On a topographic map these creek channels are generally denoted by a darker color, signifying a deeper depth, relative to the surrounding topography. When following these creek channels, look for areas where they touch close to a shallower point or flat.
During slow periods, the baitfish and bass will relate to the creek channels. During increased periods of activity they will move onto the point or flat. A good starting depth range for an average water clarity could be a break from 15 to 25 ft. If the water appears to be more stained move shallower. If the water appears to be more clear, you might move deeper.
Carolina rigs are always a good choice for a long, lazy approach, for lethargic cold water bass. Flukes can be deadly as they represent the migratory baitfish and can be color matched to be even more effective. Deep diving crankbaits can be good during warm fronts accompanied by either cloud cover or wind. Once again, these lures would be most effective when color matched to the predominate prey species in your fishery.
November 1, 2019
November is my favorite time of the year to fish. It’s quiet, there’s less boat traffic, and oftentimes I find myself in sort of a meditative state. Really, it’s times like these when I’m able to hoan in and focus, making my time on the water count. Fall is notorious for being a time to mimic open water bait fish. Bass are feeding heavily in pods and corralling their prey. Great targets can be points, docks, seams, or any other obvious transition where bass have an opportunity to ambush. My clear water approach begins in 15 ft or less. Conversely, my stained water strategy is to target bass in 7 ft or less. My favorite baits this time of year are rattle traps and mid to shallow running crank baits, during periods of wind or cloud cover. In a post frontal situation, I’ll switch to something like a drop shot or senko. Finally, it’s not only about focusing on a specific target. Look for schooling activity and signs of life, and you’ll eventually find the fish.
October 1, 2019
As we move into early fall, we are finding fish near creek channel swing banks, on the main lake. This type of transition is the first area deep schools of bait fish will pull up from, moving out of the creek channel toward shallower water. During high sun, we am focusing on docks and walkways that provide shade. In low light or more windy conditions, we’re seeking out chunk rock and other irregularities on the bank. Bonus tip: When it’s windy, look for sharp mud lines, they make for great ambush points.
September 1, 2019
Summer conditions are still here and will be for at least the next month or two. That considered, it’s important to focus on offshore locations near deep water access, where fish can access cool water. We’ve definitely noticed that the bite is better near the lower end of the reservoir, meaning closer to the dam. There is more deep water current which transports cool water and oxygen. This current can be regulated by the dam and or resultant from the prevailing wind moving through. We get far more bites using compact baits, especially when the fish aren’t extremely active. We would recommend a small black and blue craw imitation, worked slowly on the bottom over brush piles or grass patches. Best fishing hours are early morning and late evening in low light conditions.
August 1, 2019
It seems the August key depth zone is about 25 ft. This holds true on the mid section of the lake where there is good visibility. We have been getting quality bites fishing carolina rigged lizards and stick baits. The areas we target are near the main river channel that runs through the lake. This is important because it brings cool, oxygenated water and food to the bass. Also, it provides an opportunity for fish to suspend over deep water in a secure environment.
June 1, 2019
We have been catching the majority of my fish on drop shot flukes, on spinning tackle, in 10-20 ft of water. Top water baits have been good for the first few hours of the morning. we’re focusing on main lake points and docks with quick access to deep water nearby. Windblown areas can also be great as they congregate bait fish and other prey species. Carolina rigs with a 4’ leader have been good in the late afternoon. For this rig, We’re using a 7” berkley power worm in green pumpkin.
Transitional areas are important during this time of the year. I don’t want to have my boat positioned too far back into the creeks. Instead, I am looking for the first stretch of deep water out in front of the areas where the fish have been spawning. Drop shots and shaky head worms have been doing well for me. I am focused on water in the 10-15 ft depth range. For the shaky head worm, I am using a 4” zoom finesse worm in green pumpkin. For the drop shot, I’m using a zoom fluke in the albino color.
April 1, 2019
Lake Travis is starting to fish better this month. There are still a few fish on beds and they should be done after this next full moon. That is a good sign as the post spawners are starting to come out and play. You can catch some fish on topwaters using a walking bait like a spook throwing over trees in 5-12 foot of water and over and near rock piles or cliffs to get some good bites. You can catch several fish up shallow but not too many big ones. The bigger fish are still out a bit deeper in 15-30. You can catch some of the bigger fish on jigs and shaky heads using trick worms, senkos and craw worms. Moving baits such as swimbaits and crankbaits is about to get good so keep trying those to get some good bites. Skipping docks will always get you bit as well. Texas Hawgs!
March 1, 2019
Lake Travis is still fishing a little tough this month with a few active days in between. There are a few fish on beds already as well. You can catch several fish up shallow but not too many big ones. If you want big you need to fish 20-50 feet of water. Most of the bigger fish are hitting jigs, shaky heads and Carolina rigged plastics. The water on Travis is getting pretty clear now but you still can’t see fish on beds in deeper water like 15-20 just yet. The time change is on March 10th so the lake is about to explode. Catching them will soon be on more moving baits such as spinner baits, crank baits, swimbaits, etc. It’s about to be a great time to get out and on some nice fish. I still have some dates coming up so get your trip booked soon with Texas Hawgs…
February 1, 2019
Lake Travis has been fishing a little tough this month. There are fish in every part of the water column from a few feet to all the way down to 60+ feet. You can catch some up shallow in spurts and a few decent ones out deep with really slow presentations using jigs, t-rig worms and shaky heads. If you look around some of the deeper ledges and points, there are a lot of fish suspended and you can catch a few of these using jigging spoons. The water on Travis has cleared quite a bit since the flood, but if you can find some dirty water, you can catch fish flipping cover much shallower than in other parts of the lake. The lake is about to explode though with warmer weather on the way so it’s a great time to get out and on the fish. I still have some dates in spring coming up so get your trip booked soon with Texas Hawgs…
January 1, 2019
Lake Travis has been fishing well this month. You can catch them right on the bank out to 35-40 feet of water. The ones up tight to the bank are chasing shad so a small swimbait/swimjig, shallow crankbait and even a spinnerbait can get you bit. You can usually see these super shallow fish blowing up in schools on the bank. Be quick though. They move out and down the bank pretty fast. Deeper fish can be had on Texas rigged worms and shaky heads in watermelon and green pumpkin colors and some of the bigger fish have been eating a 1/2 oz up to a 3/4 oz jig in either green colors or black/blue with a good craw trailer. Dates for spring are filling up so get your trip booked soon with Texas Hawgs…
December 1, 2018
Lake Travis is fishing good right now. The fish have moved a little since the flooding several weeks ago but we are still coming across some really nice ones. We have been finding numbers up shallow as well as deep. We are catching them on a number of baits such as soft plastics, jigs and crank baits. Some days you can even find some good ones on top waters. I take out anyone from novice to most advanced and a lot of kids as well. It’s a great joy to get your kids into fishing and into the outdoors. That’s one of the greatest gifts my dad has passed on to me and his father to him and I am to my kids. I would love to help you out in doing the same as well with yours so take your kids fishing today – Bryan Cotter – Texas Hawgs
September 1, 2018
Thank goodness for the much needed rain that we have been receiving! As the lake level creeps down on Lake Travis the fishing has been great the last few weeks. With a little less water in the lake, the end result is being able to target the fish a little easier in certain areas. A watermelon red trick worm on a shakey head has been our ticket the last few weeks. We are still starting our mornings with top waters or shad imitation swim baits early. As the fall months near the fishing will continue to be stellar! The night time crappie and striper fishing in still on fire on the lower end of Travis. I had the honor of taking a young man fishing on Labor Day and he landed several bass, two being in the 4-5lb range. Tight lines! – Lee Benton – Fishing Guides Austin
August 1, 2018
As my client found out this morning Lake Travis summer fishing is still strong! We decided to just fish deep today and fish very slow. Our morning started on a deep chunk rock near Starnes Island on the lower end of the lake. We stared seeing action pretty quick with most of our bites coming in the 20-30 foot depth. As our shakey head worm crept over deep rocks our line would just become heavy and swim off. It was a very subtle bite today but a lot of fun! There is still some top water action but not near the constituency of the past few months. I have noticed the fish relating to the deep sloped chunk rock banks as the lake level creeps down. I believe that starting your fishing trip early in the morning this time of year seems to yield more bites and fish. We try and use the shade lines to our advantage and fish where there is a shadow cast on the water. And don’t forget about the night time striper fishing this time of year. We have seen some quality fish being caught near lighted docks at night on a variety of shad imitation baits. Stay cool, and tight lines. – Lee Benton – Fishing Guides Austin
July 1, 2018
The fishing on Lake Travis is holding strong as summer is officially here. We’re still experiencing schooling in the marinas early and sporadically throughout the day. The flutter spoon has been producing a few better bites under the schooling fish! Every now and then you will get a nice bonus bite with a striper latching on! My clients the other morning caught two bass on one topwater bait! We have found the walking the dog baits have been very productive (Zara spook style). The better quality bass have been showing up night fishing with jigs and creature baits. The deeper chunk rock banks have been key for this pattern. Tight lines and have a great July! – Lee Benton – Fishing Guides Austin
June 1, 2018
Ready or not summer is here! With Lake Travis water temps in the upper 80s the fishing is changing a bit from the last fishing repoort. The Bassmaster Elite guys (2018 Toyota Bassmaster Texas Fest) showed up to Lake Travis and wacked some big ol bass! Cliff Pace started the first day with 10.5 pound bass first thing in the morning. Several bass over 8 pounds were caught and a bunch over 4 pounds. What does that say about Lake Travis?? The Lake is HEALTHY! It’s no secret the tournament was won on surface baits (see video). Zara spooks, buzz baits, and poppers just to name a few. Now with that being said the bite has begun to slow up a bit with the warming water. In the last few weeks we have been catching fish on surface baits then switching to spoons and drop shots when the schools move deep and suspend. When I get younger children in the boat the trolling bite has been the ticket lately. It’s a great way to let inexperienced fisherman get in on the action and this usually produces several species of fish. Stay cool and tight lines! – Lee Benton – Fishing Guides Austin
May 1, 2018
It’s May and the fishing is really strong on Lake Travis. We’ve experienced sporadic schooling the last few weeks with these fish targeting 1 inch shad. With the gin clear water it’s very important to match the the size of your bait to the shad. We’re also finding the lighter line has been producing a few more bites in the lakes aquarium like water. One morning produced back to back 6 pound bass on a windy point on a weighted fluke. We just happened to pull up on the right school of fish at the right time feeding. A few stripers up to 8 pounds have been showing up in the mix as well. Let’s not forget the night time crappie fishing. Fishing around the right lighted docks can result in good numbers of fish being put in the boat. If you have a chance go wet at line on Lake Travis! – Lee Benton – Fishing Guides Austin
April 1, 2018
Lake Travis water temperatures climbing near 70 degrees mean the fish have made their move out of the depths to the clear flats and shallows of Lake Travis. Lake Travis has something most Texas lakes don’t have….extremely clear water. There are many areas on Lake Travis that you can see 25 ft down (to the bottom) and this really affects how fish are caught now and in the coming months.
A 1/16 oz weighted hook and a watermelon/red fluke has been producing great numbers and an occasional big bass on the lake. On days when we have some wind and cloud cover you can catch fish on moving baits like spinner baits and topwaters. On days with no clouds and no wind you have to really fish a little stealthier and slow down your presentation. On these days our best success has been on deeper flats and drops (the 15-25 ft depth) with a slow falling bait (fluke or senko). I believe this next full moon will push up the last wave of spawning fish.
A typical half day of fishing has been producing between 20-30 fish on average and should continue through the month of May. Pictured below is a young man that caught some good ones in a classic spawning creek on the lower end of the lake. Tight lines! – Lee Benton – Fishing Guides Austin
March 1, 2018
Spring is just around the corner and the fishing on Lake Travis is about to become prime. After an unusually cold winter, the fish are ready for a warm up! This time last year the lake was almost 7 degrees warmer and as you may know this plays a huge role in the fishing. We have been fishing ledges and drops in the 20-35ft depth and having to fish very SLOW… Without going in to great detail the heavy soft plastics, jigs, a-rigs, and slab spoons have been the go to baits this winter for most of us.
We are starting to see bass move to the shallows and this opens up a variety of ways to catch them. Wacky worms, craw pattern soft plastics, and shad/perch pattern baits will be go to baits for a good while. Let’s not forget about the white bass run that is taking place farther up lake (up river) and the crappie that will soon be showing up in the shallows and the marinas to spawn. The whites can still be caught in creeks on the main lake but there is a good number of them up river that can be caught a variety of ways including trolling. A good mess of white bass and crappie make for a great fish fry and table fair. Pictured below is a healthy Lake Travis bass caught on an a-rig on a deep ledge in February.