If you are looking for a quiet lake to escape the summer crowds yet still have some good fishing, then try Alamo Lake for some nighttime crappie fishing.
With three boats anchored in about 25 to 35 feet of water off a rocky point, we could see the crappies on the fish finders. Since it was the dark of the moon, the submersible lights drew lots of photo plankton. The plankton drew hungry fish, mostly crappies but also some largemouth bass.
Looking around the lake, no other boat lights could be seen. Alamo has lots of nighttime crappie action, but not always a lot of anglers this time of year. It is a great place to escape crowds.
The bite that night seemed to go in streaks. Stewart Kohnke, the Game and Fish wildlife manager for Alamo, was by far the most proficient at catching crappie on that occasion. His secret was some flat-sided plastic grubs the crappies seemed to like more than the traditional ones.
One key was finding the right depth. Crappies feed upward, and that can make the depth of your bait critical. One foot too deep and the crappies might never see your offering much less be enticed to hit.
There are a variety of techniques for finding the right depth. A fish finder helps. It can get you in the ballpark, but not always right into the hot bite zone. Some anglers like to start at the top of the water column and slowly stage the jig downward. If the water is not too deep, others like to let the jig fall to the bottom, and stage it back upward. Either way, raise or lower the jig a foot or so, then let it sit. If you don’t get any hits, repeat the process until you do.
Once the "hot zone" is determined, either strip off line while keeping track of how many feet the jig has traveled to reach the hot zone again, or cast out to the appropriate distance and let the jig fall to the correct depth. If the crappies are feeding off the bottom, some anglers like to let the jig fall to the bottom, then count the number of times they have to crank the reel before reaching the hot zone.
That night we only tried for crappie until around 10:30 a.m. yet pulled in enough to put on a couple of great crappie feeds for family and friends (we lost track of how many were caught, kept or released).
The next morning bright and early, the crew was out searching the waters for largemouth bass. Bass were hitting some topwater lures worked along the shoreline at first light, but the nicer fish came from spinnerbaits worked along the shoreline - especially around submerged boulders - in the coves or along the steep canyon walls close to the dam.
During the late afternoon, Texas-rigged artificial worms, crankbaits and topwater all took some largemouth bass. Kohnke said it is difficult to establish a fishing pattern for largemouth bass because most Alamo anglers are primarily fishing for crappie.