October is normally a great month in these parts.
The first flashes of color on the Creator’s canvas.
Cool nights, mild days.
Waterfowl, shorebirds, and Monarch butterflies migrating south through North Texas.
And some great fly fishing action for Texoma striped bass.
But this year isn’t normal, far from it in fact.
Why? Newsflash: Texas is experiencing a major drought.
If you didn’t know that already, the current dry spell is the worst since the mid-1950s.
And that was a Lulu.
So is the current dust bowl, leaving the Lone Star State parched, burning, and left for dead.
Speaking of left for dead, that’s the status of the home water these days, the used-to-be 89,000-acre Lake Texoma, now at its lowest level since Carter was prez.
609.95 is the current level, 617.00 is the normal level.
Throw in a blue-green algae outbreak over the past month (Note: fishing and boating are still open but the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is prohibiting contact with the water) and I’ve got a serious case of the blues.
Of the want to go kayaking and fly fishing blues.
But that ain’t going to happen anytime soon.
The latest tests from Uncle Sam say that the algae levels remain at warning levels. More cooler weather and rain – something that isn’t in the forecast – are needed to reduce the algae bloom and bring the toxin levels back to safe levels.
That all but puts off any kayak fishing plans I might have.
Now if you have a boat, all is good on Texoma. (Full disclosure: I don’t have a boat though I am always in the market for one. The wife and yours truly are negotiating a boat deal as we speak. No final deal as of yet, but we’re making progress since we’re only about $40,000 apart!).
Aside from the difficulty of launching a rig at some boat ramps, for those fortunate souls who do get on the water, Texoma is the big empty these days, all but devoid of any traffic these days.
And the stripers are still there by the gazillions. While it is commonly known that Texoma is perhaps the nation’s best sweetwater spot for catching a linesider, the current fishing is nearly epic.
In fact, one local guide complained on the Texas Fishing Forum a day or two ago about having a “sore arm” from catching dozens of striped bass at Texoma. Another boasted of an 82-fish day this week.
And their reports are the norm right now for those who can get on the water.
Amazingly enough, despite a horrid summer of triple digit heat and dry weather that produced lake temps in the mid-90s late this summer, Texoma’s famous striped bass population is in robust shape.
They have been chowing on shad all year-long and are fat, happy, and tough to land. Especially on an eight-weight Temple Fork fly rod.
Maybe one day I’ll remember what that feels like, a striper trying to expose the backing on my Orvis fly reel.
In the meantime, I try in vain to shake a serious case of the Texoma striper blues.
Algae, drought, and otherwise.