It would have been the early Eighties and although I was only about four years old, I remember it like it was yesterday. We were on my uncle's boat on lake Texoma in a hot summer evening chasing stripers. We were trolling downriggers and the last thing I remember before falling asleep was passing by some folks who had fish lights set up under a bridge to attract crappie or stripers. I still don't know if we even caught any that evening. I only remember being carried into the tent by my father. Its funny how things change and yet they remain the same. Even though I've only fish for them a couple times since, not counting hybrids of course, I am mesmerized by stripers to this day
Fast forward 35 years and I got a tip about a great guide on Lake Texoma. I had been looking for an opportunity to take my nephew on a good fishing trip, so we headed down on a hot July evening to Buncombe Creek Marina near Kingston, OK. The next morning we went out bright and early with Riley Daniel of Daniel Guide Service. It was a slay fest. We released as many as we caught and we had a full limit. We made it back to the dock to clean the fish and be done before lunch. It was an absolute blast!
July 2018 Lake Texoma
That was the summer of 2018 and I have been dying to get back. So in December when I was talking to Riley about getting him some more Leviathan Braid, and he mentioned I need to get down for the winter bite. Well, thats all it took, I started planning the trip.
Due to an all day forecast of rain, Riley recommended that our original plan to fish Friday be moved to Sunday. I already had a trailer booked at Buncombe Marina for the whole weekend, So a little dock and shore fishing would be in order for Friday night and Saturday.
Doing a some research on the interwebs told me that night time dock fishing under the lights can be fantastic for winter time stripers. To ensure we had adequate light to fish, I purchased a couple submersible led lights from Amazon and brought some small SLA 12V batteries to power them.
Friday morning my father, my son and I packed up and headed to Kingston OK. Here in Kansas City it was 19 degrees and raining. Everything was a sheet of ice! Luckily about 20 mins south of KC everything turned to just rain and we made the 7 hour drive without issue.
We arrived at Buncombe that evening and unloaded into one of the their trailer rentals on the property. A quick note on the accommodations here. I enjoy staying at Buncombe, but rest assured it is no five star lodging. It is something like you might think of staying in for deer camp. The trailers are many decades old. They were however, clean, comfortable and the heat/AC works great. The area is also quiet, peaceful and the people are friendly. That's all we needed!
After unloading our gear we headed down to the fish cleaning dock and hung the lights in the water. Immediately we say plankton crowd around the lights. Within 20 minutes minnows started gathering and shad were flickering in and out of the light. The lights were nice and bright and easy to use. I'll do a better write up on them after I get to try them out a few more times. Random blow ups were happening all around so we were excited to get fishing. Plastic flukes on heavy jigheads are a winter staple on texoma. So that was my first offering. I had ordered some jigheads from Reaxtion tackle and paired those up with some flukes and minnow bodies. I gave it everything but not so much as a bump. So we switched to some crappie jigs on light line and gave that a shot. Still no luck.
Submersible Light in Action
Before quitting we decided to get out the throw net and get some shad for bait the next day. Much to our surprise we caught a monster crappie! It was thick and heavy and I guess somewhere around 1.5-2lbs. I didn't measure it since its not legal to throw net for game fish, we snapped a pic and my son reluctantly released it.
Absolute Pig of a Crappie
Saturday morning we headed back to the dock to try some more fishing. The wind was blowing so cold and strong, probably gusting to 30 mph. We didn't last long. Again we came up short on the bites and we noticed the guide boats coming in to the cleaning station were really short on fish. That left us feeling a little uneasy about our trip the next morning. We decided on lunch, a nap, and to try the dock again that evening.
lunch and dinner
After some corned venison sandwiches and some welcomed rest, we headed back to the dock to set up the lights and give it another go. We tried it all. Bait, flukes, shad, minnow baits, and we struck out! The lake had calmed by this time but was still cold! After about 3 hours we were freezing again so back to the trailer for some wild boar tacos. We went to bed that night excited about heading out with Riley the next morning.
Ready To Head Out
We met Riley at the boat ramp at 7:45, loaded up our gear and headed out. We went out to the spot where he was slaying them the day before. I should point out here that when everyone else was coming back with a handful of fish on Saturday, Riley got his clients a three man limit and released more. Luckily the electronics showed the fish were there again waiting on us. Riley's preferred method for catching winter stripers is called deadsticking. It uses a heavy jighead(1.5 ounce) with a 5" fluke all tied onto heavy braid(50lb or 65lb). Of course we were using the toughest braid out there, Atko Leviathan. Those heavy rigs are dropped overboard at the depth you are seeing fish on the sonar. Almost no movement is imparted on the flukes except by the wind pushing the boat. Overboard our flukes went.
First Fish On!
A Nice Chunky Texoma Striper
The weather was absolutely beautiful Sunday morning. The sky was clear, the wind was calm and sun was warm. If you've fished long enough, you know that normally means bad news for the bite. However, within a few minutes we had two fish in the boat and then the bite began to slow a bit. Riley had set up one rod with live shad and it got some action so we put out a few more. Then the wind died completely and the fluke bite died with it. We switched our focus to using live shad and the hits started coming again. The electronics showed a lot of fish underneath us and we caught a few more. Their bellies were stuffed full of shad. Its like they had been on a frenzy and were done feeding. We missed a bunch of fish as well. Many of the strikes seemed half hearted and we missed quite a few
Yeah I Caught That
We picked up and moved a few times looking for more active fish and caught a few more sporadically. By noon the bite was dead and we tried for another hour without any real luck. Here's the awesome part; a quick check of the fish box showed we had caught 15 nice stripers! That's how great Texoma really is. A tough morning on the water scratching out fish and you still end up with 15! Other than some crappie lakes, I don't think there's any freshwater experience in this part of the country that compares. It is truly an amazing fishery.
It was a great weekend getaway and I can't stress enough how important it is to hire a guide who knows the lake and is current on what the fish are doing. It makes a huge difference on the amount of success your trip will have. Also I can't say enough good things about Riley and Daniel Guide service. Not only does he do a great job of getting you on the fish, he is an awesome guy as well. If you are interested in a killer Texoma fishing trip don't hesitate to call him. I'll put his contact info below along with info on everything else we used over the weekend.
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