Get hooked on fishing the Highland Lakes
You can’t learn how to fish without fishing, according to retired fishing guide Clancy Terrill, who just happens to have more than 30 years’ experience outsmarting schools of fish in Lake Buchanan.
“Nothing replaces experience on the lake,” he said when asked to share his angler insights. “I have no secrets. You have to just go out there and do it.”
The real reason Terrill has no secrets is because what he knows about fishing — which is a LOT — he’s more than willing to share. Before he took the retirement bait, Terrill was the voice of “The Fishing Report” on KBEY 103.9 FM Radio Picayune. He has been featured in a number of state publications and on a Texas Parks and Wildlife Department segment on PBS. In November 2018, he was spotlighted on Nat Geo WILD’s “Fish My City” with host Mike Iaconelli.
Still an avid fisherman, Terrill shared some of the knowledge he’s reeled in over the years with 101HighlandLakes.com.
Terrill ranks talking — to other anglers and people at the bait and tackle shops — among his top tips for catching fish. That’s where you first learn which baits are working, where, at what time of year, and with what kind of fish. There’s no need to flounder, he said, just ask someone.
Another important tool in the tackle box is knowledge of fish behavior and patterns. Anglers trade talk on fish movement like kids trade marbles. Everyone has an opinion on when they move and where they go. Oxygen, Terrill said, is key.
“Cold water holds oxygen better than hot,” he explained. “That’s why most fish spawn in spring time. They want their eggs to be in oxygen-rich waters.”
When the water warms up, fish like to anchor in cool spots where they find oxygen and food — bait fish like a little O with their H2, too! Drop your line in shaded areas along a bank and in deep waters in the heat of the day, and you’ll do swimmingly.
First lesson learned: The hottest part of the day is hardly ever a good time to fish, especially in the summer, although Terrill said you can catch fish in the Highland Lakes at any time of the year. He knows this because he does it, even retired.
In the summer, fish tend to spread over the whole lake, moving from one side to another. They also hunker down in deeper depths where underwater trees and other structures give them places to hide from the sun’s rays — underwater shade so to speak.
The best fishing times are in the morning and late in the evening when the sun is low in the sky and fish are casting about for food.
Fishermen brag. That’s no lie. They are known to carp about the number of fish caught and the size of the fish — it’s all part of the experience. For Terrill, however, it’s not the only part.
“If you are only fishing to catch fish, you’re going for the wrong reason,” he has told his sons and customers over the years. “The reason you go out is to experience nature, to see things you would never ever see anywhere else.”
Terrill has netted a real respect for the fish he hauls in and the lakes they call home. The bigger the fish, the better they spawn, so once Terrill lands a big one, this expert angler takes its photo and tosses it back into the water.
Another part of the experience is just being on the lake enjoying the company, nature, and one fantastic pastime, whether with customers, fellow anglers, or friends and family.
While Terrill prefers Lake Buchanan, mostly because of the big blue catfish he finds there, he said all the lakes in the Highland Lakes chain offer excellent fishing.
“Choose a lake and say you’re going to go learn that lake, learn the patterns and fish it, and you’ll be successful,” he said.
His final bits of advice involve preparation and good manners.
“Successful fishing starts way before you get to the lake,” he said. “Buy good equipment, take care of it, and make sure it’s going to get you back. Oh, and be a nice guy on the water. Treat people how you want to be treated.”
Well, there’s no trout about that!
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