This morning I fished with “Daddy John” G. of Belton and his grandsons, 12 year old Frank, and 10 year old Harrison, both of Lexington, Kentucky.
Of all the techniques I exposed them to, downrigging was far and away the favorite. Here Harrison holds one of our better fish caught near trip’s end.
Frank and Harrison worked well together to help keep baits in the water and maximize our fish catching potential during that magic 2 hours or so when the fish do most of their morning feeding.
Frank and Harrison flew in for a short visit with grandparents before heading back home for the new school year. The boys have a small pond near their home and have done some fishing before, mainly for bluegills.
As we waited for the rising sun to trigger the morning bite, I explained why we were doing what we were doing (downrigging) given that the fish are now mainly suspended above the thermocline, by showing the boys the thermocline and how bait and gamefish were relating to it as we viewed my sonar screen.
Fishing was very straightforward this morning. We found fish near bottom and shallower than the thermocline, in 25-28 feet of water from Area 484 to Area 459 early on. Downrigging for these fish with Pet Spoons was by far the most effective approach. On several occasions we found concentrations heavy enough to stop and slab for or throw bladebaits for, but the fish did not respond well to vertical movement and our catch rate dropped each time we stopped. Still, I wanted to introduce the boys to a variety of tactics so, we gave these methods a try.
Later in the morning, as the wind calmed and the sun brightened, the fish moved deeper. We set our downrigger balls about 4 feet lower and continued to score well even after 3-4 other boats (all of whom were fishing vertically) left due to lack of success. At one point as we downrigged, we passed over a large school of active white bass feeding near the top of the lower 1/3 of the water column in about 35 feet of water. When white bass are in this posture, “smoking” with slabs usually does well, and this morning would be no exception. We hovered over top of these fish and took our fish count from 58 up through the 60’s and into the high 70’s in just a few minutes’ time as fish after fish fell for this presentation. When the feeding spree was over, it was around 10am and we spent the remainder of our time once again downrigging to put another 10 fish in the boat, bringing our grand total to 88 fish on the day including 86 white bass, 1 sunfish, and 1 channel catfish.
TALLY = 88 FISH, all caught and released
Start Time: 6:30a
End Time: 10:30a
Air Temp: 78F at trip’s start.
Water Surface Temp: 85.6F
Wind: Winds were S6 at sunrise, gradually tapering to calm by 10am
Skies: Fair with < 10% cloud cover.
Holding the Line Guide Service