The SETX high School bass fishing championship hosted on Rayburn this 
past weekend marked the end of another very successful year for Orange 
County high school bass fishing teams.The Orange County youngsters 
captured four of the eleven top spots in the chase for angler of the year.

Justin James and Spencer Brister representing LCM led the area 
contingent with a fifth place overall finish.Hunter Belanger and Jake 
Carlin of Bridge City finished eighth followed by the Orangefield team 
of Tyler Shearin and Kameryn Harrison with a tenth place finish and yet 
another LCM team of Garrison Byerly and Will Henson nailed down the 
eleventh place spot.

Shearin and Henderson posted the best tournament finish of the area 
contingent with their third place finish followed closely by the Bridge 
City duo of Bryce Miller and Luke Mulholland.

The opportunity for these youngsters to participate in competitive 
fishing is exciting and the Association has grown every year thanks in 
part to the boat captains that volunteer their boat and time for each 
event.It is indeed a challenge, but hopefully the association can make 
this opportunity a reality for every high school youngster that would 
like to participate in the future.

The transition from the easiest bass fishing of the year to establishing 
patterns that consistently work is the toughest time of the year and we 
are smack in the middle of it right now.Productive shallow water beds 
are little more than a dished out hole in the moss surrounded by small 
bream.

With the exception of tournament anglers, the majority of the 
recreational anglers turn to bedding bream and crappie to weather the 
tougher than usual bass bite.When it comes to eating, either of those 
pan fish rate well above the bass as table fare and are fun to catch on 
light tackle.

In the mid to late 70’s, filling an ice chest with hand sized bream in a 
morning’s fishing on Toledo Bend required only buying enough crickets.It 
also helped if you avoided kicking over the cage while fishing and 
having to chase them across the floor of the boat.

That mistake also led to unwanted chirping while bass fishing at night.I 
can never recall capturing every cricket following a 
spill.Unfortunately, the more productive beds on the south end of the 
lake were located in ten feet of water or deeper and a growing striper 
population wreaked havoc on the bream population.

We made a memorable trip on the north end of the lake two years ago, but 
I haven’t checked the old haunts on the south end in years.The grass has 
changed things considerably, but they may well be back. It only takes a 
few crickets to find out.

At the same time, the crappie bite improves significantly and both 
strolling the grass line with a small jig and holding over a brush pile 
with both jigs and shiners can be very rewarding.I cannot imagine anyone 
that owns a camp on the lake not taking the time to put out a few brush 
piles.

They are simple to build and all but a guarantee that you will catch a 
few fish all year long while burning very little gas.Mark Coats told me 
only last week that he had a camp on the water for eleven years and 
never fished because he didn’t care to eat bass and they were too tough 
to catch consistently.

“My neighbor was keeping me in crappie fillets,” said Coats, “until he 
decided to help me build a couple of piles of my own.I now have a dozen 
at slightly different depths and I love leaving the camp knowing I am 
going to return with supper!”

Bridging the gap with the bass is best accomplished by remembering that 
not all of the bass spawned at the exact same time.At least a portion of 
them retreated to deeper water a month ago to rehab and they are already 
back to doing what bass do.That includes everything from schooling 
activity to feeding on deep structure.

Because the lion’s share of them are somewhere in between, however, 
starting your search in shallower water early and moving deeper during 
the hotter hours of the day will probably earn you more bites.Shallow 
water humps and points within a cast of deeper water are prime spots.A 
little grass also enhances your chances.

Catching is always the most difficult part of fishing regardless of the 
time of year!