Caldemeyer Says Two Main Patterns in Play for Conroe Giants

Published on 02-22-2022

Caldemeyer Says Two Main Patterns in Play for Conroe Giants

By Pete Robbins

Lake Conroe is a perennial stop on the Big Bass Tour and for good reason – it pumps out plenty of big fish, including some giants. That was evident last year when a 14.25 pound trophy dominated the late February event, but it’s par for the course on the highly-developed lake north of Houston. Over the past five years, early season BBT events there have produced a total of 16 double digit fish. While 8 and 9 pounders can win hourly prizes, you have to catch a true dinosaur to have a chance at the top prize.

Lake Fork Guide James Caldemeyer has fished all over the Lone Star State and is on the water just about every day, especially this time of year as the true trophies move shallow. He said that anglers headed to Conroe should expect the bite to be excellent, but the particulars will depend on the pre-tournament weather patterns.

“I was at Rayburn this past week for an MLF Big5, and there’d been a warming trend the week before,” he recalled. “Then it cooled off, so even though the water temperatures were in the mid-60s, I saw a lot of empty beds. The fish had backed off. If they’re that far along at Rayburn, they should be there at Conroe, too, since it’s further south.

For spawners, he’d look to the northern end of the lake, like the area called the Jungle, where he’d flip and pitch to spawners that he can see, and also to those areas with limited visibility where he’d expect bedding fish to lie.

“Going in blind, I’d hit every north bank I could find, in little creeks and pockets,” he said. “There should already be some spawning going on, but if there’s sun, we should see even more of that.” While he’d make extensive use of the Berkley General and a Texas Rigged Power Lizard, over the last year he’s added a new bait to his arsenal for that purpose. “I’ve kept it kind of a secret over the past year because it’s been so phenomenal, but if there’s any visibility at all, and if sight fishing becomes a factor, I’d use that Berkley Chigger Bug. It comes in colors like white and chartreuse pearl, which is what I typically give my clients because they’re easier to see, but for skittish fish I believe that more natural colors are more effective. I believe these fish are on a biological clock and when it’s time to go they’re going to go to the bank, so it should be a shallow deal. Even if you can’t see them, it’ll pay to methodically pick apart the cover.”

While he fully expects there to be a bedding bass bite, Caldemeyer said that anglers who can’t or won’t make that pattern work will still find plenty of pre-spawners. For those bass he’d employ either a Berkley Stunna jerkbait or a Berkley Warpig lipless crankbait. In fact, if the weather is nasty or cold and windy, this is the pattern he’d prefer. Those fish are feeding up for the spawn, and won’t be negatively affected by the front the same way as those who’ve already started the process.

As always, Conroe promises to be a slugfest, and anglers will need to bring their “A Game” to challenge for a spot in the top 10, but as always there will be checks available to savvy strategists. Be sure to monitor the live leaderboard to get a sense of whether your smaller fish will pay big bucks.