RAY HUBBARD: The Mother of Texas Hybrid Lakes

Discussion in 'LUKE CLAYTON' started by Luke Clayton, Jul 19, 2009.

  1. Luke Clayton

    Luke Clayton New Member

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    "RAY HUBBARD: The Mother of Texas Hybrid Lakes"
    by Luke Clayton

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    Luke Clayton


    Guide Matt Cartwright was raised on Lake Tawakoni, situated a little over an hour east of Dallas, and grew up fishing its fertile waters for everything that would tug on his line. As a teenager he discovered Ray Hubbard where he learned the location of the lake’s many humps, ridges and submerged points while fishing there with his dad. These days, Matt spends his time hopping from one lake to the other in attempts to keep his clients in the best hybrid striper action. According to Matt, and witnessed by myself on a recent trip, fishing at Hubbard is going strong, hybrids and white bass are locked down on a schooling summer pattern and catching is good!

    My association with Ray Hubbard Lake goes back a long way. I used to hunt squirrels back in the sixties before the lake filled, in a grove of hardwoods, the tops of which still mark on a graph, about 12-15 feet below the lakes surface. My mind backtracked 40 years as I watched the long-dead timber, much of it appeared to be still standing, plot on Matt’s graph as we skirted the edge of my old hunting grounds in search of baitfish and hybrid stripers. “I remember using my old iron sighted J.C. Higgins .22 to knock a big fox squirrel out of the top of that old oak that showed on the graph just below the boat, back in ’64 or ’65,” I kidded as Matt used the trolling motor to quietly ease us over what appeared to be a school of shad with accompanying inverted V’s.

    “Let’s give these a try, the fish are stacked in a vertical position and I bet they are feeding. They look like prime candidates for big baits. Here, tie on one of these Moe’s Kahuna Spoons. They are made by Moes Tackle Shop and because of their size, they will often make it down to near bottom, through the schools of suspended white bass.” Matt says as I drop one of the jumbo spoons into the water. The big spoon looked to be a bit over 4 inches in length and fluttered from side to side in an arc that spanned a good two feet. I watched it go down a few feet into the murky water, then I felt the unmistakable ‘thump’ of fish hitting the big bait as it continued its fall to the bottom; sandbass! I am always amazed at the aggressiveness of a school of actively feeding white bass. They mistook the big bait as a oversized shad, wounded on the surface and fluttering into their strike zone. Before the bait hit bottom, I set the hook on one of these ‘thumps’ and found myself hooked fast to a chunky white bass. He would taste good when marinated in buttermilk and Louisiana Hot Sauce and rolled in corn meal later but, right now, I was after one of his larger cousins!

    “We could set right here and limit on big white bass by downsizing to a smaller bait. The whites have been hammering the Fiesta Slab, also by Moes Tackle Shop. Let’s enjoy some catch and release fishing on the hybrids and then we will switch to the smaller slabs and proceed to catch the makings of a magnum fish fry for you.” says Matt. His words were interrupted by a fish that caused his fishing rod to bow heavily toward the lakes surface: Cousin Hybrid!

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    Photo by Luke Clayton

    Like most hybrids, the offspring produced from crossing a male white bass with a female striped bass is stronger than either of its parents, and more hardy. Hybrid stripers do well when stocked into smaller waters but stripers and white bass require moving water to spawn and, in Texas, shelter from the heat in deeper, cooler water.

    Matt’s hybrid made long hard runs, which brought to mind another hybrid, the mule, pulling a plow. With steady pressure on the rod and the reel’s drag set to tire the big fish as it made a series of strong runs, Matt soon had the fish boatside. In true hybrid fashion, upon seeing the hull of the boat, it bore back down to bottom on one last strong run. The hybrid, probably weighing around 7 pounds, was soon scooped into the landing net, then gently released to fight again. “Catch and release is important here at Ray Hubbard with the hybrids. They receive a great deal of fishing pressure and during the summer months when they’re on a steady pattern, are often relatively easy to catch by fishermen in the know. There are kazillions of white bass that, when properly filleted, make excellent table fare."

    During the dog days of summer, especially when there is no cloud cover, by min morning it’s getting to be a bit unpleasant. We spent another hour or so fishing various humps and points, on water 20-25 feet deep and enjoyed the line sizzling run of several more of the hard fighting hybrids. Then, we headed to one of Matt’s favorite white bass humps. “Let’s switch to chartreuse Fiesta Slabs and you can catch a limit of sandbass for your fish fry. Let the bait flutter down and, if it makes it to bottom, burn it up for six or eight cranks, then let it flutter back down.” I did as instructed, felt the line go slack as the lead spoon hit bottom, then cranked fast several turn, pushed the button on the reel and as the bait began to flutter back to bottom, it was nailed; hard, by a chunky 14 inch white bass.

    In as many minutes, I soon had my 25 fish limit, many of which were ‘magnums’ in the 14-15 inch range. Back at the cleaning dock, I watched Matt as he filleted the fish with an electric knife. “I like to leave most of the ‘red meat’ on the skin when I fillet the fish. If you don’t bear down too hard with the knife blade while removing the fillet, the majority of the ‘off flavored’ red meat stays on the skin.”

    I might have been fishing good Ole’ Ray Hubbard years before my young guide first plied it’s fertile waters with his dad but after the trip, it became crystal clear that Cartwright was a quick learner. He’s a ‘new school’ guide that employs the best of old school and modern day technology. Matt might use a bit of ‘dead reckoning”, triangulating between objects on the shore, to get ‘close’ to his many fishing hotspots but he is also quick to switch on his GPS to pin point the structures.

    Long gone are the days of using a brick on a rope to locate drop offs and ledges as I can remember doing while setting trot lines on the north end of the lake as a teenager. A new generation of fishermen is now dominating the fishing scene; guys and gals that understand that catch and release is important. The fishery at Ray Hubbard is in very good hands of Cartwright and other younger professional anglers. Who knows, one of these days when Matt is closer to sixty than thirty, he might be the ‘old school’ angler in the boat, and reflect back on his fishing trips ‘back in the day’!

    FOR MORE INFORMATION: Contact guide Matt Cartwright, www.mattsguideservice.com or 214-415-0166.



    Outdoor tip of the week: It’s not a bit too early to begin preparation for dove season. Now’s a good time to stock up on shotgun shells and purchase a spinning wing dove decoy or two while they are still in stock. If you’re planning to hunt teal during the early season in mid September, it’s time to touch up those teal decoys with fresh paint and maybe shoot a round or two of sporting clays, trap or skeet to sharpen the shotgunning skills. If you’re looking for a great place to hunt waterfowl, this might help: Guide Cory Vinson with Guaranteed Guide Service (469-867-4299) is heading up a duck hunting/fishing operation, El Patos Lagos, situated a few miles west of Cedar Creek Lake, a little over an hour southeast of Dallas. Season Leases are currently available which include fishing for catfish, bass, crappie and trophy gar in over 700 acres of water. Situated near an oxbow of the Trinity River, the area is usually packed with ducks during the winter.

    Want even more of Luke's hunting/fishing tips and tricks, wild game recipes etc?​


    Listen to Outdoors With Luke Clayton for a new show each week at www.catfishradio.com and check out the new fishing videos at lukeshotspots.com

    Contact Luke at lukeclayton@prodigy.net

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  2. Luke Clayton

    Luke Clayton New Member

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