Jackson Hill Marina hosted the first PACK trip to Lake Sam Rayburn on 22-24 Aug 2008.
After several continuous days of downpours and thunderstorms, the distant threat of TS Fay, and the usual August heat, a handful of diehards decided to do Lake Sam or bust. Ron R, Ken J, Dean R, Tom A and grandson Schuyller, and Chris A accompanied by wife Leslie and son Cameron made the trek to Jackson Hill Marina. After check in and getting the lowdown from Tom and Schuyller, who were first to arrive; the rest of the group headed out to explore some of the late afternoon hot spots in beautiful conditions. The water was slick calm with just a hint of breeze. Tom and Schuyller had been taking some panfish on fly rods, but the rest of the fleet was after bass. Unfortunately, the afternoon was cut short by a typical late afternoon thundershower with just enough distant lightning to chase us off the water.
With Friday afternoon's prime fishing cut short, a trip to Zavalla and Carlene's Cafe seemed like a decent alternative. The friday special "all you can eat catfish" and country cooking buffet was the choice for all but young Schuyller, who instead, wolfed down an enormous hamburger followed by cheesecake. Some members of the group couldn't resist the homemade banana pudding, but we wont name names. The catfish turned out to be better than average, but the mystery meatballs on the buffet were strangely reminiscent of Alpo. The group returned to camp and enjoyed a little nite cap and planned our assault on the fish.
Saturday dawned clear and calm with beautiful conditions. A short paddle presented a nice cove with a creek channel, some hydrilla, and a main lake point; just what the book called for. Everyone spread out to a likely looking spot and attacked the fish with topwaters, rapalas, and flies at daybreak. Ron scored a couple small fish on a bone spook jr. After a couple blowups that didn't connect, he switched to spinner bait and quickly nailed a nice 15"er. Tom located a small white bass, and started looking for his big sister. Shortly thereafter, a large fish doubled his rod, dove for the grass beds and broke off. He kept stalking the whites and worked the shorelines with the fly rod. Ken and Dean didn't report catches on saturday morning.
Things were beginning to slow down a bit and Ron moved out to deeper water and started working the main lake point with a texas rigged plastic worm. Another 15"er came on board very quickly, and then nothing. At 9:30 Ron told Dean he was going to try about 10 more minutes and then paddle in. Well, about 9 minutes later the classic, plastic worm thump, and hook set produced one of those lucky catches. When the fish broke the surface and jumped the first time, it was obviously a good fish. As is often the case with a big bass, she continued to jump and try to shake the hook, but to no avail. In the end it was a beauty; 24 inches and just nudged 7 pounds on the boga. Luckily, Dean was close by with camera in hand and several pictures later the fish was released to give someone else a thrill.
Everyone paddled in for a morning siesta, a little chow at the marina restaurant, and a new determination to get back on the water that evening. An early supper was arranged at the marina so that we could hit the lake for those last couple hours of fishing. Naturally, Mother Nature stepped in and put a huge damper on that. A doozey of a storm blew in about half way through the meal, and continued to rage until just before dark. The marina became the sight for a spirited game of Boure, a little story telling, and even some special entertainment from Chris's son Cameron who played a couple numbers on the piano. So after a pleasant evening, we turned in with a plan to return to the scene of Saturday mornings events.
Well the roles were a bit reversed on Sunday morning. It again was a beautiful dawn. Ken and Dean made early strikes on schools of blue cats that were chasing large groups of shiner. Dean was tracking the shiners on his depth finder and every so often the water would erupt as the cats moved in. Efforts to prove that there were white bass chasing bait as well proved fruitless. Tom caught a nice keeper black bass on his fly rod and Ron caught the big goose egg. Chris and son Cameron went for a nice paddle in Chris's beautiful hand made canoe and later attempted to score some of the catfish seen by Dean and Ken. Alas, no fish fry for Chris and family this weekend.
I think our first Lake Sam Rayburn event was enjoyable for our small group. Our hosts at Jackson Hill were very cordial and look forward to our return. Everyone caught some fish and one guy got really lucky. The weather for the most part was great, with just enough challenge to remind us that is was after all a PACK outing.