As the blazing summer sun gives way to cooler days of fall and winter, redfish anglers at Calaveras Lake are looking to shift gears a little in order to hook into some big bulls and hefty females with spawning on their minds.
The cooler weather and lower water temperatures – the water at the CPS Energy reservoir can top 105 degrees in the heat of summer – this fall means anglers will find bigger and more active redfish during September, October and through mid-November.
“When the spawn is on, that is the best time to hook into big fish,’’ said veteran Guide Manny Martinez.
“The fishing activity kicks up when the temperatures start dropping. Big schools of big redfish will be moving around all over the lake. When you find them, that is when the fall really gets to be fun,’’ he said.
Martinez is well versed about big redfish at Calaveras Lake, one of two CPS Energy power discharge reservoirs just south of San Antonio that are home to the saltwater transplants which go through the motions, but cannot reproduce in freshwater.
On a fall day of Oct. 23, 2008, he hooked into a monster bull red – a Calaveras Lake record catch – that tipped the scales at 30 pounds and measured 41 inches long.
The big fish smashed a Magic spoon tossed into a school of reds near the surface where they were churning up the lake chasing bait fish and put up a fisherman’s dream battle.
“Calaveras is a lot different than Braunig (the smaller of the two CPS Energy reservoirs). There are more reds and more bait at Calaveras, which means the chance of hooking into a monster is a lot greater,’’ Martinez said.
The guide pointed out that Braunig was a little more productive than normal this past summer, but is not expected to be a prime spot for redfish action as the air and water temperatures cool down in the fall and winter
“I spent more time at Braunig this summer because the fishing pressure was so high at Calaveras. With the Crappie Wall shut down, there are a lot more anglers on the water, particularly on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.
“That pressure will slow down this fall when some of the attention will turn to dove hunting, archery and other outdoor activities,’’ he said.
The Crappie Wall, a concrete barrier blocking access to the cooling water inlet for the power plant, was fenced off last year because of security concerns. When it was open to anglers, fishermen would be lined up nearly shoulder to shoulder along the barrier hoping to hook into the redfish that cruised through the area in search of an easy meal. Relieving that angling pressure on the redfish has increased the opportunity for anglers in other areas of the lake to hook into reds, Martinez said, although it has also helped congregate boats in hot spots.
“Sometimes on the weekends it can get to be really crowded and you have to be very careful about getting too close to other fishermen,’’ he said.
“That is not normally a problem in the fall and winter when there is less pressure.”
Concerning the technique of hooking up with the fall redfish, the veteran guide said that as the fish get more aggressive, finding the right color bait to lure them into a biting mood can be tricky.
“Gold, silver and green spoons are usually good options,” he said, pointing out that with four downriggers sticking out from his boat at the same time, he can offer a variety of baits at a variety of depths to find just the right fish-catching combination.
“While one color may be hot one day, the next day you can come up with nothing on it. Switching baits to find out what is right for that day is the key to catching reds,’’ Martinez said.
“There were a few times this summer when we would limit out in less than an hour – that is a lot more common in the fall and winter. Hooking up with two or three fish at a time can really be exciting and it takes some good angling skills to get them all in the boat,’’ he added.
The limit of redfish at Calaveras Lake remains at three fish at least 20″ long. While saltwater redfish can be no longer than 28″ without requiring a special trophy redfish tag, there is no maximum size limit for freshwater reds.
Guide Manny Martinez
(210) 386- 6695