Before we get started, a quick riddle: what did the fish say when it swam into the concrete wall?
Bwahahaha! Well. Now that that’s out of my system, I’d like to introduce you to one of my favorite places: Lake Lavon. Of course, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers insists on calling it Lavon Lake. Okay, they created it, so I guess they can name it — but it’s Lake Lavon to the vast majority of people who live in the area, and even the state of Texas uses the popular term.
Lake Lavon itself is located northeast of the Metroplex, just outside of the little town of Lavon. This isn’t the biggest lake in the area — Ray Hubbard, for one, is a lot larger — and it’s not an angling Mecca, but it’s a local favorite for campers and fishermen alike. In fact, if you’re a fisherman, it’s a great place to go spend a few hours wetting your line when you come down for vacation. It’s off in the country (no surprise there), and the fishing’s good both from shore and by boat. Myself, I prefer to fish in the area behind the dam.
There’s a kind of fishing pier on the west side of the back-dam area that’s set about 30 feet above the water, parallel to the outflow into the East Fork of the Trinity River. It’s a great place to catch catfish (mostly channel and blue), several species of gar, and freshwater drum for most of the year, and scads of aggressive little white bass and huge buffalo carp in spring and early summer. Other fish common to the lake are crappie (black and white), several species of black and true bass, all kinds of sunfish, and lots of carp and shad. When the weather has been particularly wet, like it was earlier in the year, they open up the raceways on the dam and let go with a huge torrent of water, which really pisses the fish off and make them strike at all kinds of things. Usually they open up just a few of the raceways, but early this summer, when it was raining all the damn time, they opened up all twelve; the only other alternative was having the water overtop the dam. The crisis is past, so the raceways are quiescent for the moment.
If you prefer not to fish from the pier, or if it’s too full (which is often the case), you can make your way down a concrete/rip-rap hillside and fish there, or move south onto the point of land alongside the East Fork (which eventually feeds into Lake Ray Hubbard, by the by). Wherever you fish, you’ll be occasionally entertained by the sight and sounds of a heavily-loaded train wheezing its way across the bridge that cuts across the backwater area.
Speaking of the backwater area, it’s pretty wide, so there’s plenty of room for lots of fish, and lots of fishing. It’s not too deep, so when the white bass are running, you’ll often find people standing hip-deep in the water, casting. There’s no way to get boats back here, but some people use those inner-tube things to fish from. I used to have one of those. I was always afraid a giant turtle would try to snip off my toes (or worse, something more important), which was probably a good thing to be afraid of, considering that monster snapper turtle I saw at the Dallas Aquarium the other day.
But I digress. As you can see, there’s a big concrete wall across there on the other side of the backwater, but they haven’t adapted it into a fishing pier. I don’t know why, but it’s probably because it’s hard to get over there, and they never let you drive across the dam anymore. No matter. I just like to come here and relax sometimes, even when there’s no fishing to be done. And hey, did you know they filmed part of an episode of “Walker, Texas Ranger” back here? One of the few times I watched the show, I actually recognized the setting. Score!
The last time I was out there with a camera, I watched a few people fishing, and one of the guys caught a few. He was very cool and let me take pictures of them. Of course, the photos of the more impressive fish didn’t turn out, but this one did.
That’s a sunfish of some sort there, what we call a “bream” in Texas. I’m not sure of the species, but it looks a lot like an immature bluegill, one of the most common sunfish species in Texas waters. This one isn’t too big, but it’s almost edible size (for the record, the guy who caught it kept it). If you’re a fly fisherman, this is the kind of fish you’ll want to go after: they’re aggressive (though not as much as white bass) and they fight like hell. Of course, the most popular sunfish in Texas is the largemouth bass, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen one caught out of Lavon. Now that would be something to catch on a fly rod, eh?
*I hate to admit it, but that’s one of my favorite jokes. Okay, so I’m easily amused.