On a nighttime fishing trip with the 'bass whisperer'
“Would you like to go night fishing on Lake Travis Friday night?" questioned Bobby Whiteside. Bobby knows I hate to night fish so he must have been desperate for a fishing partner.
“I can’t fish Friday night since I have an appointment Saturday morning,” I replied. “I could go Thursday night though."
“Thursday will work.We’ll leave about 6:30 p.m. and fish until 9 in the morning,” he said. I was snared. I didn’t want to night fish but I hadn’t fished with Bobby in a long time so it would be a good time to visit. He also promised to bring me a mattress and a pillow so I could sleep most of the night,
Instead of driving I-35 and S.H. 71 (Ben White Blvd.), which is a traffic nightmare, we took the country route through Wimberley, Dripping Springs, and came out Hamilton Pool Road onto S.H. 71. It was a pretty drive, maybe a little farther, without traffic.
We launched Bobby’s bass boat at Paleface Park. The lake is low, making the long steep ramp even longer. By the time I parked the truck and walked down the ramp Whiteside had already caught two bass. He never wastes a minute.
I climbed into the boat and made a couple of casts, catching a nice largemouth on my second cast. We caught two or three more fish before I stopped fishing to eat my supper about 8:30 p.m. Whiteside caught three more bass while I was eating. He never stops casting, even to eat.
“The bass are getting larger again in Travis,” said Whiteside. “The last two trips we caught 65 and 68 bass. Several were nice keepers.”
A keeper bass in Travis is 14 inches and up. On Bastrop Lake, which is a slot lake, we can keep five fish under 14.
“Let’s try to keep 10 bass tonight. Carolyn and my daughter have been on my case about always releasing my fish and never bringing any home to eat,” he said.
That was okay with me. By 9 p.m. it was dark. Whiteside never fishes the daytime hours in the summer.
‘No boat traffic, no water skiers, no fishing competition, and it’s cool," he said. “Why wouldn’t everyone want to fish at night?”
I could think of several reasons. You can’t see where to cast. Little problems, like a line loop over an eye on the rod, become big issues at night. And most of all I like to sleep at night. The night hours were given to us by the Lord to sleep. Somehow Bobby didn’t get that memo.
As the darkness settled in we changed our plastic worms for lighter colors to darker colors worms. It seems like you would fish white lures at night but dark ones show up better sky lighted against the backdrop of moon and star light.
Our fishing strategy was simple. Just follow the steep, rocky walls on the trolling motor. Many of the bass were very shallow. Bass tend to move shallow at night.
My numbers fell off as the night hours passed. Whiteside was still pulling them in. About 10:30 p.m, I got sleepy.
“Let’s go try one more spot across the lake and then I will pull out your bed,” he said.
By this time we were up the Colorado arm of Lake Travis. We didn’t plan to fish any in the Pedernales branch since the water was low.
About midnight, I fell asleep on my mattress. I could still faintly hear Bobby talking without ceasing about rods, line weights, jigheads and hook sizes. During the night, he pushed me over on my side to drop a keeper into the livewell. I also faintly remember hearing the big engine running for a while. Bobby was letting it run to charge the batteries. All the electronics and two live wells can pull the batteries low. He also motored to a few different hot spots on the lake while I slept. I didn’t even know that we moved.
While I slept Bobby stopped only 30 minutes for a nap. He fished all night.
About 6 a.m., I awoke, picked up my rod and began to fish. As the eastern sky began to light up my catch rate went up. It helps to put you lure in the water.
By 9 a.m. we had landed 81 bass. About six of them were Guadalupe bass. The other 75 were largemouths, and about 20 were legal keepers.
I didn’t feel tired or sleepy on the way home. I don’t know about Whiteside. In about five years I may be ready for another night fishing trip with the “bass whisperer."