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Texoma Striper On The Fly

By Robin Rhyne

Lake Texoma is a vast body of water, covering 89,000 acres. There is so much wonderfully diverse fishing opportunity that I will not attempt that small book at this time. Rather, I'll cover the smaller fishery of the tail race and striped bass, Morone saxatilis.


A thumbnail of history and then I'll "un-digress." Lake Texoma was completed in 1944. Striped bass were introduced in 1965 and since then things have taken off. The Red River provides one of the few venues for striper spawning in the nation. Along with Santee-Cooper Reservoir in South Carolina, Texoma is one of the few spots this side of the Rockies where a viable freshwater spawn occurs.

Stripers are one of the most popular game fish in Texas. Stats can be queried up so I'll leave that you, dear reader, and your search engine.


I'll tell this tale from my perspective, relate the data I have acquired by fishing and talking to other anglers. As I mentioned above, Texoma contains a viable, growing population of stripers. So many that the limit is set to encourage removal of small fish. To quote Texas Parks and Wildlife; "For striped bass and hybrid striped bass, no minimum length limit; daily bag=10 and possession limit=20. Only two striped or hybrid striped bass 20 inches or greater may be retained each day. Culling of striped bass and hybrid striped bass is prohibited." And below the dam, in the Red River "For striped bass and hybrid striped bass, no minimum length limit and daily bag=5. Culling of striped bass is prohibited."

Let's get our fish on!

For a few weeks now there have been reports of fierce fish fights, backings exposed, flylines lost, fingers rubbed raw. Horror stories to get the blood moving no?! Oh yes. Seems that back in early summer, in the midst of the heavy catch-up rains that we received, the flood gates were literally opened and many stripers were poured into the Red. All sizes from massive to mundane. As weather cooled off the stripers began moving up under the dam in earnest, feeding on the shad that were flushed through when the generating turbines were running. Both the fly fishing and hardware tackle boards were alive and hopping with tales of large numbers of really big fish! This year I missed the big blitz but did get in enough time to make me want to go back for more.

This past Wednesday Mick McCorcle and I made our way to the river. We unloaded, geared up and got in the water around 10:00 AM. I intended to try my hand at spey casting and was thusly rigged. Without going into the details I don't believe that spey will work out on a slow rolling river like the wadeable Red. Weight forward floating was not the way to go this time. The other fellows were all fishing sink tips or intermediate sink lines and were hooking up regularly. Scott Bridgess who guides fly trips on Texoma came down and fished with us. Scott is an Amnesia and lead core man, all the way, joking that he cannot cast a regular fly line! (Someday Scott, we'll get you on a two weight and some nymphs after bluegills.) These fish are not all that big as stripers go, Boga-ing at two to four pounds. But they fight nicely on a smaller, eight weight or less, rod. The action was off and on, I traded out with Mick and got some luck on his sink tip. The cumbersome solution for floating line was extra long leader/tippet combo which managed to get the fly down there.


I slipped and fell in! Walking on rocks in flowing water is not my forte'. I fell forward enough to get water in the bib pouch of my waders. Fortunately my camera is waterproof to a degree and was not damaged. But I chickened out and left it back at the truck when we went in to eat lunch. The secret for me was to look for smaller rocks in groups and try to stick with them as much as possible. The larger, massive, smooth rocks grow a slick coat of algae and slime and tend to present more of a challenge. I don't want that challenge. Stay shallow, the fastest way to a location is not always a straight line.

After Lunch

Lunch was fine, we ate some energy bars, drinks and chatted for a while. Scott Bridgess was revealing his tips and strategies on lakeside stripers as well as a lively demonstration of how a striper hunts and eats, what it sees and what it goes for. How it attacks, kills and consumes bait. Knowledge is power and after some time with Scott one has some power.

We hit the water again, I lost several flies and then my only add-on sink tip. Back to floating line again! Arrrgh! Some other fly anglers were out this day. We visited for a bit, talked while we fished. Like getting caught up with a friend yet you never saw this person before. I like that. The fish were coming and going, seemed to be moving in and out of the gut we were fishing. Then Mick moved over, tied on a gray Cat's Whisker and proceeded to hook a fish on every single cast for I really don't know how long. He had earned it. He has spent the last few months getting his family moved up here to Collin County from Boerne and had not been fishing in some while. Huzzah! Fish on! Finally the light started fading, the horn sounded to signal generation and we all cleared off. It was time for us family guys to head back down the road to home. The fellows who stuck around hustled down to the restricted area wire and reported catching big fish as the rushing water signaled shad feasting time. All in all a good day on the water.


I'd been up to the Red the Sunday before and had gotten blown off the river by thirty mile per hour winds. Dan and I fished up until it was just too crazy windy to even try catching any longer. That had been a windy day overall. A fellow on the Blue River hear Tishomingo posted that he'd been sitting on a rock watching his pal fish and was blown in!

In Closing

If you get a chance to fish this tail water fishery I strongly recommend it. Check for generation schedules if you want to hit that cycle and go for big ones. Otherwise be prepared to wade and have an Oklahoma license. The entire Red River and its shoreline are Oklahoma territory with the exception of a small strip from the dam face to a small creek a few hundred yards down stream. ~ Robin

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