It hasn’t been the best of winters to catch large numbers of Kingsize Blue Catfish at Lake Tawakoni, but Noel Ibarra has always had a pretty warm hand.
Ibarra is a seasoned fishing guide who hangs his hat at Michael and Teri Littlejohn’s new Open Water Lodge near Wills Point, home of the couple Lake Tawakoni Guide Service. Like the other guides on the team, Ibarra is a multi-species expert who specializes in chasing whatever turns out to be the most biting at this point in time.
The 38,000-acre reservoir ranks among the best on the planet for catching multiple species, often in large numbers. The abundant channel cat and temperate bass like hybrid stripers, white bass, and striped bass attract fishing crowds enormously, but Tawakoni’s trophy blue cat fishing is quickly gaining popularity with those looking for quality rather than the amount. It is one of the best lakes in the state for fish weighing over 30 pounds, most of which are released after being caught.
Ibarra, 41, grew up guiding on Lake Lewisville before moving to Tawakoni in 2000 and finally joining the Littlejohn team three years ago. The Carrollton native has always had a knack for catching whiskered fish, but he seems to have found the rhythm to put customers on the real whoppers.
âTawakoni is a special lake, without a doubt,â Ibarra said. âThere are giants out there. I have been fortunate to have had a good course on big fish in recent years.
Ibarra says the best time for a big bite is each time you get one, but winter is usually the time when the bigger fish are most active and easiest to catch. Chances are most favorable during prolonged periods of cold weather which cools the water temperature and causes fish to congregate in deep water, often around the shad pods.
Ibarra says fishing conditions have been less than ideal this winter due to unusually warm temperatures for the season.
âIt never got cold and stayed cold,â he said. âThe fishing has been intermittent. Big fish always bite, but we didn’t catch 7-9 big fish per trip like in the past. We catch 2-3 a day. They were bigger overall than last year.
Several of the whoppers have been hauled aboard Ibarra’s 24-foot center console platform in recent times, a few that would outweigh the average third-grader. The larger cat, an 80-pounder, came to call on the afternoon of February 15. The fish capped off what had otherwise been a fairly slow day for the guide’s group of four anglers led by Dean Heibert from Delia, Kan.
âIt had been a pretty difficult morning,â recalls Ibarra. âI had fished some of my best areas before and didn’t catch much other than a few edible-sized fish. It was one of those days.
Around noon the guide moved to another area which changed their luck. He described it as a place where two points collide with a flat main lake in the lower part of the lake. The water is approximately 34 feet deep.
Ibarra liked what he found when he got there. A howling southerly wind had whipped the great water into a labyrinth of great scrolls.
âIt was a big moment – perfect for drifting,â Ibarra said. âThat’s what these fish like. The worse the weather, the better.
Ibarra threw a pair of drift socks overboard to slow the speed of the boat, then rigged several rods with fresh gizzard shad cut into 6-inch pieces. It wasn’t long before one of the stems bent in half.
Kenny Quiett, also from Delia, was the first to see the strike. The fisherman initially thought that the hook had caught on the bottom.
Ibarra knew better.
âThere was no doubt that it was a big fish,â he said.
Quiett grabbed the rod and ultimately won a battle that produced what is sure to be one of the heaviest blue cats reported in the entire state this year on rod and reel. The 80-pound was a far cry from the Lake Tawakoni record of 87.50 pounds caught from Michael Littlejohn’s boat in February 2014 by Jody Jenkins, but it’s the biggest fish reported by the team this season.
Jenkins’ benchmark isn’t the only record that Ibarra’s clients have flirted with this season. On December 30, Scout Schiffbauer of Bryson, 12, landed a 64-pound that fell just below the state record for youth set at Tawakoni last March by Brayden Rogers of Cisco, 13.
Rogers’ blue cat, also captured in Ibarra’s boat, weighed 67 pounds. He dethroned Lane Ferguson’s 66.20-pounder as the heaviest blue cat ever caught in Texas on a rod and reel by a young angler. Ferguson, of Fort Worth, caught his record-breaking blue cat in December 2011 at Lake Worth, a 3,500-acre lake in Fort Worth. He was 12 at the time.
The Texas State Record-breaking Rod and Reel Blue Cat weighs 121.50 pounds. It was captured in January 2004 at Lake Texoma by Cody Mullennix of Howe.
TPWD invites public comments on proposed rule changes
Several proposed changes to hunting and fishing regulations are currently open for public comment via the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s email contacts and the public comment page of the department’s website, tpwd.texas.gov/business/feedback/public_comment/.
All public comments regarding proposed changes to the Statewide Recreational Hunting and Fishing Proclamations 2020-21 will be considered before the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission votes to accept, amend or decline any regulatory changes at its March 26 regulatory hearing in Austin. The following is a summary of the changes proposed by TPWD staff:
The proposed changes include amending the definitions, application requirements and conditions for the American Antelope and Antlerless Mule Deer licenses; and specifying the season dates and bag limits for the 2020-2021 migratory game bird seasons.
* Antelope / Antelope Antlerless Mule Deer: TPWD is looking to create an automated permit application process and application deadlines. The proposed deadline for electronic antelope license applications is July 1; Antlerless mule deer, September 1.
In addition, it is proposed to allow multiple landowners to combine multiple contiguous plots of land to create an aggregate area for the issuance and use of permits. The idea is to increase hunting opportunities and encourage game management.
Landowners would be required to keep a daily harvest log and provide the information to the ministry within a specified time frame. For the American antelope, the harvest report would be due by October 31 of the year the permit was issued; Antlerless mule deer, September 1.
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Seasons of migratory game birds:
* North Zone: Sept. 1-Nov. December 12 and 18-January 3.
* Central zone: Sept. 1-Nov. December 1 and 18-January 14.
* South zone and special zone for white-winged doves: September 5, 6, 12 and 13; Sept. 14 – Nov. 1 and Dec. 18
– January 23.
* High Plains Mallard Management Unit: Oct. 31-Nov. 1 Nov 2020 and 6 Jan 31.
* Dusky Ducks: November 9 to January 31.
* North Zone: Nov. 14-29 and Jan. 5, 31.
* Dusky Ducks: Nov 19-29 and Jan 5, 31.
South Zone: 7-29 Nov and 12 Dec-Jan 31, 2021
* Dusky Ducks: Nov 12-29 and Dec-Jan 12 31.
* Early Teal: Sep 12-27 (Daily limit, 6)
The daily bag limit for ducks is six, which cannot include more than five mallards (of which only two can be hens); three wood ducks; a scaup (lesser or greater scaup; two redheads; two scrub ducks; a northern pintail; and a black duck (spotted duck, Mexican duck, black duck and their hybrids) during the seasons established for these species in this For all non-listed species, the daily bag limit is 6. The daily bag limit for coots is 15. The daily bag limit for mergansers is five, which cannot include more than two. crowned mergansers.
* Pale geese: Nov. 14-Feb. 14
* Black geese: Nov. 14-Feb. 14
* Pale geese: Nov. 7-Jan. 31
* Black geese: Nov. 7-Jan. 31
September Canada Geese
Preservation order for pale geese
* East Zone: February 1-March 14
* West Zone: February 15-March 14
Waterfowl reserved for youngsters
* MMU of the high plains: October 24-25
* North zone: 7-8 nov.
* South Zone: Oct. 31-Nov. 1
* Zone A: Oct. 31-Jan. 31
* Zone B: Nov. 27-Jan. 31
* Zone C: Dec. 19-Jan. 24
* Sep 12-27 and Nov-Dec 7 30
*Seven. 12-27 and 7 Nov-Dec 30
*Nov. 7-Feb. 21
*Dec. 18-Jan 31
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Plaice: Due to declining populations of plaice and the need for additional protection for popular sport fish, TPWD proposes to close all recreational and commercial fisheries for plaice during the fall spawning period from November 1 to November 1. December. 15, to increase the minimum length limit from 14 inches to 15 inches, and to strengthen the language regarding who is required to report under a commercial fishing license.
Current regulations allow recreational fishermen to 5 fish per day; commercial fishermen, 30 fish per day.
* All Water Paddle Craft Guide License: The proposal is to change the course requirements for licensing to include a top American Canoe Association course or other TPWD approved course.
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* Moss Lake (Cooke County) – Place largemouth bass under a maximum length limit of 16 inches. Bass over 16 inches must be released.
* Brushy Creek Lake and Brushy Creek: Reduce the minimum length limit for Largemouth Bass from 18 inches to 14 inches for Brushy Creek Lake. On Brushy Creek downstream of the lake to the Williamson / Milam County line, reduce the daily bag limit for blue and channel catfish from 25 to 5 fish, remove the minimum length limit of 12 inches and add gear restrictions limiting anglers and rods to two. poles.
* Lake Nasworthy – Replace the current daily 10 inch 25 fish bag on crappie with a ruler with no minimum length limit and keep the 25 fish daily bag.
* Lake Texoma: Move from a minimum length limit of 12 inches for blue catfish and catfish to no minimum length, 15 fish to include a blue cat 30 inches or more per day. For flathead catfish, go from a minimum length limit of 20 inches to no minimum length limit, 5 fish per day.
* Texan waters from the Red River downstream from Lake Texoma to Shawnee Creek: remove the minimum length limits for catfish and change the daily bag for blue catfish and channel catfish from 25 to 15 fish.
* Falcon Lake: Maintain the daily bag limit of 5 fish for the alligator gar.
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