Little water, big fish — Aquilla Lake often overlooked

arc051106Simple but true — It’s not the size of the lake with the fish; it’s the size of the fish in the lake.

At 3,020 acres, Aquilla Lake in Hill County is roughly 20,000 acres smaller than its neighbor Lake Whitney, and a little more than half the size of nearby Navarro Mills Lake. But anglers who fish the lake say it can hang with the bigger bodies of water.

“It’s a great hidden entity,” said Hillsboro angler Rick Poteet. “It’s probably one of the best lakes near the DFW area to catch 5-pounders all day long. As far as 3 to 6-pound fish, it’s just loaded with them.”

Poteet said anglers new to the lake need to be prepared to change their normal way of thinking when it comes to catching largemouth bass.

“It’s a frustrating lake at times,” he said. “It’s really temperamental, maybe because it’s so shallow. If you do what you think you should do in most tournaments on a seasonal pattern, you’re not going to do well.”

Poteet believes the shallowness keeps the bass from making many moves when it comes to depth, but there are some characteristics that help to pattern the fish.

“When I first started fishing the lake, I was having some trouble trying to locate the bass,” he said. “These fish are more residential fish, and they get in a pocket and stay there regardless of the season.”

The lake does have a good number of road beds that attract bass, including a good spot by the Dairy Hill ramp, and another by the east side of the dam.

“It’s not a lake where you pull into every cove and find a good (bass),” he said. “It’s not a lake where you’re going to go on a campout and get 8 and 10-pounders, but you’re going to get 4s and 5s. It can be feast or famine.”

Poteet likes to throw top-waters or buzzbaits in the morning, and he also throws a lot of square-billed crankbaits. Later in the day he will switch to a shaky head or Texas rig.

“I’ve been using a light Carolina rig with real good success lately,” he said. “The water is stained pretty good, so they like a darker color like Junebug.”

But the lake isn’t only touted for its largemouth fishing.

“It’s a great crappie lake,” he said. “I’ve seen guys pulling out stringers that just have ungodly slabs of crappie on it.”

Area fishing guide Mark Parker agreed about the good crappie fishing.

“When I first started guiding in 2005, Aquilla was my main lake,” he said. “For me it is a big crappie lake, and it has a lot of white bass too, which seems to surprise a lot of people.”

Parker said there are plenty of brush piles, including five big COE piles, with one being straight across from the Dairy Hill boat ramp.

“Some people complain about the lake being small, but that’s a good thing,” he said. “The white bass are pretty easy to find — they school on top there like they do everywhere. I think it’s still a great crappie lake; sometimes they seem to have a really good year of spawning.”

Parker said he caught a lot of blue cats on shad, and the crappie liked to be up either arm of the lake.

Aquilla has three boat ramps open to the public. Dairy Hill ramp is located on the east shore, south of Peoria, near the southeast end of the FM 1947 bridge. The Old School ramp is on the west shore off FM 933 between Waco and Whitney. There is a fishing pier below the dam off Highway 310.

Mark Parker, call (254) 479-0550