Conroe's Teener Bass Piling Up

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Lake Conroe is earning a reputation as a producer of big largemouth bass. The popular Texas lake produced a 14.22-pound bass on Dec. 11, 2005, as well as a 14.8- and 14.48-pounder in February and March of last year, respectively. Besides these three headline-grabbing trophies, numerous 6- to 10-pound bass graced Conroe tournament scales in recent months.

 Mark Webb, Texas Parks & Wildlife Department, cites regular stocking of Florida largemouth bass and a huge increase of vegetation as the reasons for Conroe's rise in prominence as a big bass producer.

 "In order to produce largemouth bass greater that 10 pounds, the population has to have the genetic potential. For that reason, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has stocked over 3 million Florida largemouth bass in Lake Conroe since 1979. In addition, the Lake Conroe Restocking Association and April Plaza Marina have stocked well over 100,000 advanced size (3- to 5-inch) Florida largemouth bass in the past 15 years."

 The recruitment of largemouth bass has increased substantially because of the increase in native vegetation and hydrilla. "Last year's vegetation surveys indicated about 1,476 acres of native vegetation, in addition to 868 acres of hydrilla. Results from our fall 2005 electrofishing survey reflect the increase in habitat with 153 largemouth bass ranging from 3 to 22 inches caught in two hours of sampling. Seventy-two of the fish collected were under 8 inches, indicating good reproduction."

 Jeff Henson, another Lake Conroe TPWD biologist, reports that in 1998, the biggest largemouth bass ever collected by TPWD in an electrofishing survey was taken from beneath a boat dock and weighed in at 14.1 pounds.

 Lake Conroe is dominated by open water in the lower two-thirds of the reservoir, with some standing timber still present along the river channel in the upper reaches. Bulkheads with boat docks line the shore in the lower reservoir, punctuated by various marinas with large concrete or rock breakwaters. The upper portion of the reservoir, the portion lying within the Sam Houston National Forest, consists of brush and timbered shorelines. Fish-attracting structures in the reservoir include the breakwaters, riprap along bridge approaches and the dam, vegetation in the backs of creeks, brush and timbered shorelines, as well as submerged Christmas tree reefs. Fish these areas and you might just catch a Conroe teener largemouth of your own.

 Breakwaters

 During the hot summer and fall months of year, you will find bass around rocks and breakwaters. Some breakwaters around marinas have lights shining during the night that draw baitfish, making a perfect spot of night angling.

 As the sun comes up, these fish will move to deeper structure: breakwaters, pond dams, roadbeds and main lake points that have fairly good breaks. "These are places where the shad hold and where the bass retreat to because of the bait and water temperature," says Lake Conroe fishing guide Butch Terpe. Terpe throws lipless crankbaits and shallow to medium diving crankbaits along the rock structures.

 "One of my favorite places is the breakwater at Walden Marina at the mouth of Little Lake Creek. There is also a breakwater at Bent Water," says Terpe, referring to one of the numerous lakefront property developments around the southern half of the lake. "There is an old roadbed that comes out from Bent Water, just south of the Highway 1097 bridge on the west side of the lake, close to Little Lake Creek, that has been known for years to produce great bass. The roadbed comes up to about 8 to 10 feet on the top and it drops down to 20-plus-feet on the sides."

 The rocks along the dam produce the same type of fishing. "When fishing the dam I throw crankbaits because it has some new rock structure since the dam repair caused by Hurricane Rita. Sometimes you can get by with Slug O type baits and other plastics that sink slowly.

 "Early in the morning that area is pretty well known for topwater action. The water is probably the clearest in the lake right down there at the dam. You can throw topwater Pop Rs or little Tiny Torpedoes."

 Another popular breakwater is at Harbour Town right in front of Seven Coves. "Seven Coves Marina has a rock structure breakwater that is really good," continued Terpe. "The one at Harbour Town is where the lighthouse is located, on the east side of the lake below the 1097 bridge. You also have Anchorage Marina in that same area in Lewis Creek."

 Pond Dams

 One of the better and well-known dams is Crouch's Creek, near the Harbour Town lighthouse, which comes off what is known among anglers as Bird Island. It's an old pawn levee and has always been known for catching good bass. The top of the levee is probably 8 feet high and drops to over 20 feet on each side. "There are a lot of submerged stumps and brush that the fish relate to," says Terpe.

 Backs Of Creeks And Flats

 In September and October the bass get a little more active. Spinnerbaits start paying off. There are some bass holding in grass in the back of the creeks and flats on the northern parts of the lake and in the back of Lewis Creek, Peach Creek, Wiers Creek and Little Lake Creek. Bass are hanging around these grass flats, anywhere from 3 to 5 feet deep.

 "Some of the bass will start moving into the coves because the shad are moving," explains Terpe. "The bass are chasing the shad into the backs of the creeks. One of the better flats is in Wiers Creek." Toss a spinnerbait, crankbait or a Texas rigged plastic worm or Senko.

 Don't forget the numerous deep water docks that line the south part of the lake during August, September and October.

 Trip check report

 Name:

 Squam Lakes

 Location:

 Lake Conroe is located about 60 miles north of Houston along I-45 in Conroe, Texas.

 Lodging:

 Being so close to Houston, Lake Conroe is a popular retreat for the urban crowd. Because of the popularity of this destination, there are many options for lodging. From campsites to four-star hotels, your particular needs will be met. For a comprehensive list, go to www.lakeconroe.com/lodging.

 Local Info:

Guide Butch Terpe, 936-856-7080. Lake Conroe Area Convention & Visitors Bureau, http://www.lakeconroecvb.org. TPWD Region Three, 979-822-5067, www.texassportfishing.com/Region_3.

 Weighing In

 14.91 — The standing lake record largemouth caught in 1997 by Willis angler Bill Boyett.

 20,118 — Surface acres of Lake Conroe

 13,800 — The number of grass carp dumped into the lake last October to curb the spread of hydrilla

 1973 — The year Lake Conroe was impounded

 Bassmaster Extra

 Lures to packs

  Spinnerbaits, from 1/4 to 3/8 ounce, chartreuse/white combination:

 "I always put a trailer hook on my spinnerbaits, especially fishing over grassbeds because you might get a short strike. I am not a willowleaf fan. I like the Colorado or tandem blades. I generally like to cast it where I can see the blades on top or just under the water."

 - Crankbaits, those that go real shallow, not more than a foot deep:

 "I fish crankbaits over grass or real shallow structure, 2 to 3 feet deep." Terpe's favorite colors are Tennessee Shad and Fire Tiger. "Bandit is my favorite brand name. Mann is making one called the Baby Minus One, won't go more than 1 foot deep, real well known for fishing over shallow grass beds."

 - Plastic worms, Texas rigged:

 "I like to use a lightweight, 3/16 to 1/4 ounce if the wind is blowing and there isn't much grass." His favorite colors are watermelon, black/blue and junebug in 6-inch Gator-tailed style worms.

 - Plastic worms, Carolina rigged:

 Target deep structures such as pond dams, roadbeds, or brushpiles.

 "I like to use a 1/2- to 3/4-ounce weight, depending on the wind, with a 2-foot leader, 4- to 6-inch worms, same worm colors." In the spring, knowledgeable Lake Conroe anglers sight fish beds, using craw worms. "Usually you have some kind of stickup or grass that the fish might be around, not deeper than 2 feet of water." Craw worms as compared to lizards are effective because of their compact size. "It's easier for a fish to take the whole bait in instead of just the tail," explains Terpe. "You have a better percentage on hookups, since the bait almost covers three quarters of the worm and is more compact."

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