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Hey guys, I'm Russell glad I found this group.

So I took my son for his 6th birthday down to the coast back in June we went out on the dolphin express sand pulled in 6 red snapper and 6 atlantic sharpnose sharks on his 6th birthday. It was one of the best days of both our lives.

We got the bug... Bad.... Lol....

We went fishing almost everyday this summer when we got back into town. Mostly hitting up the banks from lakeway city park, Hamilton greenbelt, and brushy creek park. We've caught a handful, almost always using live bait I let the little guy catch perch and I chunk em out and see what happens.

But last month we made the plunge and I bought us an older 1990 Bayliner Cobra bass boat at an auction. Took me two weeks of working on it everyday but I got it to fire up finally and we can actually go get out on the water now and get serious about this.

I have congestive heart failure so I'm stuck at home everyday and have pretty much nothing to do but go fishing.

We live in Hudson Bend and launch out of Quinlan Park most of the time since it's a free ramp. I'd love to know if there are any other free boat ramps around.

I'm also going broke buying live bait everyday so it would be awesome to learn to fish artificial but I've never managed to pull in anything on fake bait. Would love to hear from some guys who know this area that can teach me a thing or two, hell I'd be happy to take you out on the boat if you wanna show me!

Thanks guys looking forward to talking to yall!
 

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Welcome to the forum, Russel!

I’ve never fished Lake Austin so I can’t help much there. If you have good batteries (No gas engine operation) you can fish Lady Bird Lake. The ramp is near I-35 behind the Holiday Inn. The ramp is free and street parking is free on Sunday (I think its free til 11am on Saturday?).

Jim Hogg At Lake Georgetown was free because of the pandemic. Check the ACE website: Fort Worth District Lake Facility Closures

Lake Bastrop and Lake Walter E Long are not that much, like 5 bucks. See ya on the water!
 

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Jeremy - a clarification: there are two ramps on Lady Bird. One is free (by the old Auditorium Shores). The other, about 1/3 mile to the west, requires payment with a credit card.

Russell - Lake Austin used to be one of the premier bass lakes in the country and certainly in Texas, back when it had a lot of grass. But the landowners couldn't swim at their docks so they pressured TPWD for something to be done. Their solution was sterile grass carp. They ate the grass sure nuff but, as it did in Jurassic Park, life found a way. They started to multiply like crazy. Now, Lake Austin has little grass and is a shadow of its former glory. Most guys now target docks and underwater rocks and trees. East of where you launch is a spa that many fishermen lovingly call the "Fat Farm." Its dock is a good place to pick up a fish or two. If you head west you'll see areas marked with hazard buoys on the right (designating rocks) and then to the left (shallow). Both have produced for me in the past. Especially the area to the left with lipless crankbaits. Keep on trucking and you'll come to another ramp on the left. It's for the Apache Shores neighborhood. That area used to have a lot of grass and still has some on occasion. I recommend focusing to the west of Quinlan. If you go east you'll run into lots of wakeboarders, skiers, and jet skiers who will make lots of wakes and make you feel like you're in a popcorn machine. Of course, when it gets cooler you won't encounter nearly as many of them. I can't think of any other free ramps on Austin.

As to baits, what succeeds depends a lot on the time of year. For example, in the summer you can have success with fast topwaters and burning crankbaits and swimbaits next to grass lines or slow-rolling a spinnerbait down a rocky bank or by a damn. The spring and fall also are often good for topwaters (usually fished slower than in the summer), crankbaits, spinnerbaits, and chatterbaits. Jerkbaits shine in the fall. But in the winter you'll have to slow things down and go with finesse baits mainly. But it's important to remember that each lake has different water clarity, temperature, characteristics, etc. What works on one lake might not work on another. And what works one week might not work the next. The key is to be flexible and to not be shy about trying other baits or colors. For more bait ideas see the bottom of this page - Freshwater Fishing Trip Rotation (Self-chartered) :: The Fellowship of Christian Sportsmen. There are also many YouTube videos that cover fall and the other seasons bassing, along with specific lakes. Some just show guys catching fish, cursing, and feature loud music. I'd avoid those. But others are very helpful. I especially like the Tactical Bassin videos. They are very educational, although many of the baits that he recommends are high-dollar.

Other close lakes for you to check out include Travis (very deep with lots of coves and rocky banks) and Decker (which many regard as the premier bass lake in this area presently). Decker has a 14 - 21" slot limit. If you venture further there are Bastrop, Fayette, Stillhouse Hollow, and Belton. Bastrop and Fayette are powerplant lakes with 14 - 21" and 14 - 24" slot limits respectively. Bastrop has a lot of Eelgrass and some timber. The hot water discharge and damn are popular areas. Fayette has a much larger damn and a lot more timber. It also has a lot of offshore humps and tanks but you'll need good electronics to find them. There is a lot of hydrilla in Stillhouse, timber, and rocky shorelines. A lot of guys fish up the river. Belton has less grass but more coves. For these lakes, the only free ramp that I can think of is Riversbend Park on Stillhouse Hollow. It's a primitive park but the ramp is a four-laner. I didn't include LBJ, as that is your backyard lake I figured that you've already fished it.
 
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