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Hickory Creek Ranch Lakes, Crockett
Taking advantage of the nice forecast, I decided to get in one last fishing trip before those blue northers start blowing through and spend one day at Hickory Creek Ranch and one day at Bennett.
To make it easier on my old bones and body, I spent Friday night in Buffalo. Saturday, up at 0400, breakfast in the hotel room, and on the road by 5:00. I got to the lake around 0730, and was on the water by 0745. Water temperature was 60.6 ° at trolling motor depth, with water clarity about 2.5 feet. The weeds were considerably fewer than on my first trip to the ranch last spring. No wind at all, and warm enough that no jacket was needed.
I decided to fish clockwise around the bank from the “ramp,” and my first cast onto that mirror-calm water was to the weedline about 100 feet west of the ramp with a ½ oz Yellow Magic in baby bass pattern. I hadn’t even twitched it when a 13” youngster sucked it in. “Gee, I thought,” this might be a good topwater morning. No such luck, though. That was the only fish of the day that hit a surface lure.
I didn’t have another strike for 40 minutes, when a dink hit an old Rex spoon with a 6” Uncle Josh Black Widow Eel ….little fella wasn’t as long as the lure and trailer, but gutsy! I then discovered one of the day’s successful patterns when a 14.5: fish hit. I caught that one, and picked up a few more 13” to just under 14” bass on a floating, gold/orange back, #11 Rapala. They wouldn’t hit it twitched on the surface, but did when I paused it during a straight retrieve – as it was floating back up, they slammed it. One of those fish hit at the weedline across from the dock, but most were on the stumpy flat near the SE end of the lake in less than 4 feet of water. I boated two 14” bass, one at 14.5”, one at 15.5”, and one just under 15”, all on the Rapala, working it as if it were a jerk bait. Casting next to the tallest stump on that flat, one hit a green pumpkin/chartreuse tail, unweighted, wacky-rigged Senko. It was the biggest fish of the morning, a 16-incher that weighted a whopping 1-14. Then it was back to the Rapala again, and a few more “harvest fish.”
A second circle around the lake yielded a bunch more dinks, two just over 14”, and 4 between 15” and 16” One, a 15.25incher, fell for a green/white chatter bait with a green Live Magic Shad trailer, but all others were on the Rapala. Several of the good ones hit under the bridge. I didn’t have even one strike around the island. I finally stopped fishing at noon with 10 released and 26 harvested - all in all, a pretty fun morning.
Wanting to try for some bigger fish, I trailered my Bass Baby to drive back to the small lake. The landowner walked down while I was winching the boat up, and asked me if I wanted to keep the harvested fish. When I mentioned that I had forgotten my ice chest, he told me that I could have one that was left behind by one of his wedding parties. He also has an ice maker, and offered ice as well. As I was trying to put it between the seats of my Forester, that old Styrofoam ‘gave up the ghost,’ pretty much filling the floor up with ice and small bass. That took some time to clean up. He then found an old water jug he said hadn’t been used for years, so most of the fish and more ice went into that. The landowner kept 6-8 of them to filet for dinner. What a truly nice landowner he is!
I finally made it to the back lake, and was sorely disappointed. The water temp was63.5 at the launch area and 59.7 back in the creeks, with water clarity varying from 2-3 feet. Decent conditions for early December, but the coontail moss was within 6” of the surface everywhere the water was less than 11 feet deep - tough to fish, to say the least. I tried, though. Total catch? Only one bass, a 2-13 that fell for the green chatter bait. Around 5:00 or so, I packed it up and headed to a hotel in Palestine. I should have listed to my ‘Horns get whupped up on instead. (By the way, OU still sucks.)
Main lake: 10 bass returned, 26 harvested
What worked: Baby Bass Yellow Magic; #11 Original floating Rapala, gold with fluorescent orange back; green/white chatter bait with 3.5” green Lake Fork Live Magic Shad trailer, Rex Spoon with 6” Uncle Josh Black Widow Eel, and green pumpkin/chartreuse tail, unweighted, wacky-rigged Senko.
What didn’t: Unweighted, wacky-rigged Senkos in green pumpkin, watermelon/red flake, band lack /blue flake; white single-spin.
What worked: green/white/yellow chatter bait with 3.5” Live Magic Shad trailer.
What didn’t: everything else.
Here's part of the "harvest:"