I recently visited Dallas, Texas. My eldest son Ari is in school there, as are my in laws. Between the school PTA, visiting old friends and family and some business meetings, the first few days were completely booked, and had me too busy to fish. I had a short window of 3-4 hours on Sunday afternoon, and luckily, the airline I flew had no more miles tickets for me to return on a Monday, so I got an extra day all for myself, which I planned to spend fishing.
I did some research before heading down. My hot spot (Lake Texoma) seems to have been hit by a number of fish kills in recent years, due partly to golden algae, then blue / green algae. Apparently, there was an advisory (recently lifted) against touching the water. So much for catching some nice stripers for the table, and the long drive from where I was staying didn't make it too attractive either.
As I'd be shore fishing, I planned on hitting some spots for common carp and possibly smallmouth buffalo, or "buffs" as the locals call them. I contact the Wild Carp CLub directors of North Texas for some info. Both were quite busy during my visit, one was at the carp fishing tournament in Austin that weekend, the other would be fishing the Wild Carp big 44 on Lake Fork the following week. Boith suggested I try Lake Grapevine near the Dallas Forth Worth Airport for common carp and buffs.
My son had his own idea of where we could fish. Not far from his dorm, there are a number of golf courses that have small man made lakes. Though they run through public neighborhoods, the lakes all belong to the golf courses, and fishing is forbidden. Too bad, as common carp are the prevalent species inhabiting these lakes.
The lakes drain into flood control creeks throughout the area. These creeks swell during the rainy season, and shrink during the dry season. With the fluctuating levels affecting water quality, carp are one of the few species that thrive in the creeks. We decided to fish one such creek less than 10 minutes drive from his dorm.
We pre-baited the spot on Friday afternoon, as we were scouting our Sunday spots. Threw in about 1 lb of frozen corn, and about 1/2 a lb of 16 mm Scopex boilies. Not much of a baiting campaign, but that was all we were able to do.
Headed back after the last round of PTA meeting on Sunday afternoon. A public jogging trail runs along 1 kilometer or so of the creek, so we rare had public access. Still, the access wasn't easy, as there are limited spots with direct access, most of the creek is surrounded by 15-20 foot cliffs, dropping straight into the water. We headed to our first spot, and managed to climb down to the water by using tree roots as support.
Once on the water, I started setting up the lines. Though Texas fishing rules allow for an unlimited amount of rods, we brought 3 rods do to lack of equipment and fishable space. I set up 2 rods with corn nibblets on hair rigs, and one with corn nibblets topped of with a piece of floating / popup corn. First hit didn't take too long, maybe 10-15 minutes. The carp bolted, but in the narrow creek, it didn't have much place to bolt to. I grabbed the rod, fish on! Not a big fish, but put up a good fight on the bass rod (Rapala travel rod) I was using. I landed it withing a minute or so, a small 6 lb carp.
Though it was probably one of the smallest carp I've ever landed, I was quite happy to fight a fish in fluid water in mid February. Besides being my first carp of 2012, it was also my first carp landed in Texas, as I fished for bass, stripers and catfish back when I lived there (before I discovered carping).
I cast the line back to the same spot, and it took less than 5 minutes for the next hit. Ari took the rod, and landed the next carp, a 7 lb common.
Another cast, and 3 minutes later, Ari lands another carp, nearly identical in size and weight.
At this point, I decided to up the ante. I brought in one of the lines, and swapped the corn nibblets for a 16 mm boilie. Sent it out a little further downstream hoping for a bigger fish. Sure enough, I had a carp playing with my line within 10 minutes. I set the hook into something a bit bigger, though it was tough to tell, as it was on an old 10 foot ocean rod I had borrowed from my father in law. Brought it in after horsing it away from the sunken trees, weighed in at 9 lbs.
I cast my lines out again, hoping that the fish would keep increasing in size. After another few minutes, a breeze picked up. Directly over our spot, a huge oak tree split in half and came crashing into the water. I was hoping the fish wouldn't be too spooked, but it seems that it was more than enough to turn the fishing off. We fished for another hour or so, no more hits.
We eventually found another accessible spot further downstream, but it was a lot shallower and had been pre-baited. No hits within another hour or so, and it was time to leave, as we had another function to attend later that evening.
The following day, I planned to head out to Grapevine Lakeon my own. One the the WCC guys recommended the Southern edge of the lake, and the other, a series of cliffs on the Northern shore. I decided to go with the South side, as it was a bit closer, and the wind was coming in from the North, which I hope would ouch the fish closer. No luck in 2 hours at my first spot near a marina (Scott's Landing), I had to choose between finding a new spot on my own, or trying to make my way over the the cliffs on the North shore, about 1/2 hour's drive. I stuck to the South side, heading West. Found an area where I could relax and soak up the sun, while hoping to hook my first Smallmouth Buffalo.
No luck with corn, nor with home made or store bought boilies. Regardless, I was just happy to lay back in the sun, watching the clouds pass by in the warm breeze, thinking of the snowstorm I missed back home.