Land of the giants: Finding summer studs

Land of the giants: Finding summer studs

Lee Livesay

Current and cover: When Texas angler Lee Livesay finds this scenario on a stained river, he knows he’s knocking on the right doors. A big laydown on a main-river outside bend with current — money.

“The biggest fish in a stained water system like that are really hard to catch in the summer months, so I’m going to use some type of reaction bait on the thickest cover I can find,” Livesay said. “I’m going to throw a big squarebill in there instead of flipping it with a worm or a jig.”

Thoroughly picking apart the cover, he’ll hit every limb, low or high. Fish could be anywhere on the tree, depending on time of day, but experience tells Livesay to expect several suspenders.

“You could have a tree that’s 20 feet deep, but you’re catching them 2 feet under the surface,” he said. “In a river system, try to present your bait so you’re bringing it downcurrent.

“Those fish are going to position with their noses into the current 99.9 percent of the time. They’re waiting for the shad and bream to come through those treetops, so you want to sit downcurrent, cast upcurrent and cross those outside limbs.”

Armed with a 7-foot medium-heavy Halo rod and 17-pound Hi-Seas fluorocarbon, Livesay makes short, precise casts to all sections of a laydown. After covering those outside limbs on the upcurrent side, he’ll position parallel to the trunk and bump along that line before giving the downcurrent angles a look.

Livesay expects the fish to favor the tree’s perimeter during early mornings, late afternoons or cloudy conditions, while sunny times push them deeper into shady sections. In any case, he finds persistence particularly relevant.

“The biggest key is multiple casts to the same spot,” Livesay said. “I’ve been on the Red River and Arkansas River and I’ve literally made 25 casts to the same little bitty laydown, the same cast over and over, and on the 25th cast, BOOM — I catch one.

“In a Bassmaster Open on the Red River, I caught five fish off of a 3-foot laydown, but I probably made 150 casts to it. About every 30th cast, I’d catch one. I ended up catching a limit by making the same exact cast down the base of that tree.”

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