I fished a morning “Kids Fish, Too!” trip with Mr. Allan E. and his 4 boys, 12 year old Josh, 10 year old Chris, 8 year old Merrill, and 4 year old “Little O.” I generally don’t take more than 3 kids at a time, but, with a little proactive discussion with the boys dad, we agreed that I’d look after the older 3 while dad did some 1-on-1 with Little O., and that worked out very well for us.
From L to R: Josh, Chris, Merrill, Allan, and Little O. with the best of the bunch of the white bass we landed this morning.
One of the first 5 fish we landed regurgitated this small “combo platter” consisting of a young shad (center) and a freshwater shrimp (bottom). The Pet Spoon (top) is a nearly dead-on imitation for the young of the year forage size.
Start Time: 6:40a
End Time: 10:45a
Air Temp: 78F at trip’s start, heading towards the high-90’s.
Water Surface Temp: ~86.0F
Wind: Winds were calm to 2 or 3 mph from the S and SW.
Skies: Skies were clear and bright with clouds slowly building in the south, but which never reached our area until after the trip concluded.
The name of the game today was downrigging. We got on the water shortly after sunrise and thanks to the flat calm conditions, there wasn’t a single fish breaking water anywhere to be seen.
We scanned a few areas very quickly with sonar looking for congregations of bait, and found a bit of bait and some gamefish in 24-27 feet of water over a 30-40 foot bottom from Area 040 to Area 517. I coached the boys on their roles to keep our operation efficient (meaning lines nearly constantly in the water) and to keep each young man engaged. One would peel out the right amount of line behind the boat, another would lower the downrigger ball, and another would adjust the “skimmer rod” for surface-oriented fish. Once we had “fish on”, one boy would fight the fish, one would raise the downrigger ball and get ready to reset, and one would clear the skimmer to avoid any tangles. The boys took turns bringing in the fish so everyone shared equally in the success. We landed 9 fish (8 white bass and 1 drum) here including a tandem (two fish on one rod) for Little O., but eventually the fish and bait disappeared.
We headed to between Area 484 and 205 and caught 12 more fish here including 2 drum and 10 white bass. When things went soft here we moved on.
We headed to between Area 444 and 644 and picked up 2 white bass when I spotted a dense school of fish on bottom in about 24 feet of water. I knew we could cast to these fish and catch them more efficiently than via downrigging, so, we set up to cast with the boat in a hover. I demonstrated the lift drop technique to the boys and caught a white bass while doing so, then they followed my example and landed 2 whites and a small largemouth before the school moved on. We returned to downrigging and put a final 14 fish in the boat by 10:15am, including 2 more drum, 1 more largemouth (keeper sized) and 11 white bass, including our second tandem of the day. By now the novelty was wearing off and the boys’ attention span had about played out, plus the building heat and lack of breeze made it pretty warm, especially with them wearing life jackets.
Dad and I agreed this was a good stopping point, so we brought our lines in and headed back in. As we did, we made a special effort just for Little O. who, because of his age, didn’t get to do all the stuff the big boys did. We rigged up a pole for Little O. with a quill float and worm and hit a small colony of sunfish at Area 239. In less than 15 minutes’ time we landed an additional 13 sunfish, all of which were bluegills. The older boys were good sports to patiently wait on their little brother to do this.
We finished up by snapping a few photos of our 4 largest white bass at dockside and then safely released them, as well.
TALLY = 54 FISH, all caught and released