Luke Clayton

“How high’s the water?” might be an unlikely question for an outdoors column to ask, but if you live in the Lone Star State, or across much of the Midwest, the phrase is more than just words — it’s a situation that has been affecting your life lately.

For those of us living on or close to major creeks and river drainages, just a look below as we cross the bridge is proof positive of much, much rainfall and flooding. Grass is knee high to a tall man and lawn mowers are going unused. It really, REALLY does need to stop raining for a day or so.

I’ve contemplated putting up a “hot wire” around my four acres and inviting one of my cattle rancher buddies to bring over a few head of cattle to help me get things under control! The next few weeks would be primetime to be in the lawn mower repair business!

I remember well the early summer of 1990, the last time I have seen such an influx of water. I was fishing on Lake Texoma with a good guide buddy and we were actually catching stripers around some of the flooded picnic tables at the parks there.

Waters crested the spillway at Texoma recently, for the first time in 17 years! Fishing during periods of high water can be a challenge; it’s true. But it can also be very rewarding.

Thinking back a mere 12 months, I can remember one of the driest summers in recent history. God has a way of replenishing things here on Mother Earth and the rivers and aquifers should be well hydrated for a long, long time. Hopefully long enough to carry us through the next dry spell, as we native Texans say.

Now, to the good news: All this fresh water should regenerate rivers like the Brazos, Colorado and Trinity with a “free” stocking of gamefish that pass over dams. The dreaded golden algae that has plagued lakes on the Brazos watershed just got a good flushing. Fishing from the bank has been good on many lakes, especially for catfish.

I was down at Lake Tawakoni recently enjoying a church fishing trip/fish fry. The majority of folks were out fishing but the “cooking crew,” which consisted of a couple of other camp cooks and myself, were making ready for the fish fry at a lakeside covered pavilion. We watched several folks dunking baits around flooded reeds and grass beds, in water less than two feet deep, and most of them landed nice stringers of cats.

When rainfall causes lakes to make a quick rise in elevation, all sorts of worms, insects and crawfish are instantly placed in the food chain and it’s not only catfish that move shallow to feed. My buddies down at Lake Fork reported good bass fishing in the shallows, especially during low light conditions when the fish are not as spooky in water that barely covers their dorsal fins!

Fishermen at Lake Brownwood, which is an excellent fishery for many species but receives little press these days, have been enjoying some great action on channel and flathead catfish. Pecan Bayou, a major tributary to the lake, has been pumping in plenty of fresh water and fishing along shorelines around the state park is very good.

Fishing lakes after a recent “rise” requires extra caution when boating. Remember, there are lots of underwater obstructions such as logs and shoreline brush that are adrift in the lakes. Go slow and keep and eye peeled for these potential hazards.

Before assuming your favorite ramp is open, call ahead to the local governing body. During the peak of the flooding, all the ramps on several of the reservoirs were closed.

Let’s make the best of what was given to us and be thankful for all the refreshing, life-giving water.

The only “real” drawback that I can think or is the fact that deer will be tough to spot this coming hunting season because of all the vegetation. On the bright side, though, they should be fat from all the mast crops and browse.

Check out Luke’s weekly outdoors radio show at