Low Water Makes Me Happy! By Matthew Loetscher

Low water makes me happy!

I want to begin by reminding everyone not to panic! You can still catch fish on Toledo Bend despite the lower water level. In fact, you can catch them better now! This lower level is great for our fishing now and its even better for the future of our fishery. As a full time guide and tournament angler I get to fish the lake at all stages and during all seasons. Lately, with Toledo Bend experiencing a drawdown I have been able to take my clients on some high number fish catching trips! Moreover, I can use techniques that don’t require a lot of fancy casting skills.

Here are three reasons why I’m happy to see low water:

1. Toledo Bend’s fish population is now in a scaled down version of the reservoir. This makes fish much easier to locate because they have less area to spread out in.

2. The lake being lower allows shoreline vegetation to grow.

3. (This is the most important one) When the water rises in the future, aquatic vegetation can grow in the replenished, nutrient rich soil that was exposed during the drawdown.

Now, I want to give you some tips for locating fish while the water level is low and elaborate a bit on why I prefer low water to high water for catching fish.

As the water level drops fish will make their way closer to a drop off of some sort. They do this for access to deeper water as the lake recedes. Once the water level stabilizes and is no longer dropping at a fast rate these fish that have moved closer to deeper water begin to gang up in schools on the remaining sweet spots.

Contrary to this…

When the water level is higher the fish have much more area to spread out into and many more options for cover to live around. Generally speaking this makes catching numbers of fish harder for the fisherman. You may catch one here and two there but it can be tougher to find large schools. Of coarse there are exceptions but I am speaking on general terms considering consistency throughout the entire year not just good times now and then.

Now how do you find these sweet spots?

The lower water sweet spots that I have described are not all that hard to find. You must simply consider a few variables: food, cover & water depth. The fish require a food source and on Toledo Bend the primary food source is threadfin shad. So first find an area where there is a concentration of shad. Next, identify a source of cover nearby where fish can hide to ambush those shad. Place a bait around that cover and bingo! These places tend to be near deeper water. This deeper water could be a 5 feet deep ditch or it could be a 20 feet deep creek channel. Deep is relative term. But, there is almost always a deep-water highway nearby. This is the process I go through every time I look for fish and it has served me well. Especially when the water level is low!

Lastly, I want to touch on the future of our fishery. It has been my experience that the years following a prolonged draw down are better fishing years. I believe this is due to habitat growth created by exposed soil and clearer water. Aquatic vegetation like hydrilla, milfoil and coontail grasses are great for increasing the carrying capacity of Toledo Bend. Increased carrying capacity leads to higher fish numbers and happier fisherman!

Obviously all boaters need to exercise more caution when navigating Toledo Bend during the drawdown. At the time that I am writing this article (9/26/19) all of the major public boat ramps are still useable and boating lanes are still navigable. Just don’t run outside the boat lanes and pay attention to the depth.

So please do not be so quick to judge the decisions of the Sabine River Authority. Water level cycles are important to us as fisherman! Use this time to learn about the lake bottom, repair docks or retaining walls and most importantly catch fish!

Tight lines, Matthew Loetscher