An off-work Friday presented a rare but welcomed opportunity for some kayak fishing in one of North Texas’s more unusual fishing locales– Wheeler Branch Reservoir. It’s unusual for a couple of reasons. The first is its size; bigger than a pond but much smaller than most Texas impoundments, Wheeler Branch is a mere 180 acres, which makes it the perfect size for kayaking. Secondly, instead of damming the Paluxy River and creating a traditional drinking water impoundment, Somervell County residents instead chose to carve the lake basin out of the existing countryside and pump the water in from the Paluxy, and the limestone bedrock makes for very clear water. Lastly, the lake is one of the few Texas lakes with stocked walleye. To date over a million walleye fry have been stocked in Wheeler Branch as well Florida largemouth bass, Kentucky smallmouth, channel catfish and numerous baitfish species. The verdict is still out on the survivability of the walleye given Texas’s brutal summers, but I do occasionally hear of anglers pulling out walleyes from there. Here are some pictures from our outing at Wheeler Branch Park…
Aircraft engineer Mike Whitacre discovered the greatness of fishing Wheeler Branch Reservoir several weeks ago, and he quickly concluded that this was no ordinary fishery.
Lydia Rayner pedals her Native Mariner 10, which incorporates a Propel pedal drive system. Pedal drive kayaks are efficient and they free your hands for other things, like fishing. To watch her pedal up and down the lake that morning, you’d never know that she is four months pregnant.
Mike with his first buck bass of the day. The day started out drizzling, but no Lone Star angler begrudges the rain these days. Texas lakes have been low due to last year’s record drought, but are slowly starting to fill.
Lydia’s husband, Tim Rayner, and one of his two 19-inch large mouth bass he caught that day. Since 2007, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) has stocked over 22,000 Florida strain large mouth bass in Wheeler Branch Reservoir. ..they’re getting bigger.
Here’s a little piggy that Lydia boated. All the fish here at Wheeler Branch looked to be well fed, a sign that the fishery is in good shape. Notice the submerged cedar trees lining the banks; a good portion of the lake is surrounded by submerged trees making for lots of fishy habitat. This shot was taken near the dam and you can see the dam’s rip-rap behind Lydia.
Here’s one of mine…
We ran into this gentleman solo fishing from his canoe near the dam…the size of this lake coupled with the ban on boat motors makes this lake perfect for kayaks and canoes.
Got carp? Nope, but he’s got bass…
And another one for Mike…he seemed to be pretty well dialed in and was able to adapt when the initial shallow pattern we found evolved into a deeper suspended pattern as the day progressed.
Lone Star Chronicles: Life, Liberty & the Pursuit of Fish