This morning I fished with a real nice bunch of folks from all over Texas. The trip organizer was Marshall Smith from University Park near Southern Methodist University, near Dallas. Randy and Carly Lockhart hailed from Aledo, west of Ft. Worth, and Guillaume Smith drove up from Austin. Their family owns a cabin near Temple Lake Park on Belton Lake, so they were able to overnight locally and avoid an early morning drive from a distance to make our 7:15 start time.
As has been the case for the past 4 trips now on Stillhouse, some nice largemouth have shown up on our catch while targeting white bass.
This shot was taken before 8:15am — and we didn’t leave the courtesy dock until 7:25. The early morning breeze and helpful gull action put us right on the fish this morning.
Closely observing bird activity helped us uncover this icing on the cake beginning around 10:15am!!. The action lasted about 50 minutes.
The weather was balmy this morning for late January, and the wind blew the entire trip which helped us out tremendously. Many anglers don’t like the wind because it makes boat control and line control more challenging, but, blowing wind turns fish on without a doubt.
We spent our first 25 minutes on the water looking for fish with sonar in the absence of bird activity, but, by the time the sun cleared the horizon by a few minutes, the trusty ringbill gulls were patrolling right along with us, and they found what they were after, thus helping us find what we were after.
These gulls typically look for large threadfin shad, gizzard shad, and (especially on Stillhouse) sunfish that are killed or stunned by marauding schools of white bass on the prowl. When white bass get aggressive they’ll strike whatever moves, including, on occasion, things too big for them to swallow. As these would-be snacks float to the surface, gulls dive down to dine and, in so doing, reveal the location of the fish that did the damage.
The gull action lasted right at an hour, and the action under them was slow but consistent, giving up a total of 18 fish in our first hour with lines in the water. I told Marshall I was going to keep moving until we found fish, versus sitting in one spot and hoping fish would come to us. It was then that he supportively declared, “Hope is not a strategy!”.
Our next stop came off the side of a deep hump near the old Lampasas River channel in about 42 feet of water. These fish presented on sonar as a very tightly schooled mass. No sooner did our slabs reach bottom then we started hooking and landing fish non-stop for another hour, taking our tally up into the 70’s. Eventually, the school lost interest and the bite died down right at 10am.
Our final stop of the morning also came in 42 feet of water and over top of a large school of fish which we found by observing diving terns feeding on small threadfin shad forced to the surface by the white bass beneath them. This action came as the winds reached their highest velocity of the morning — about 15mph. This was really easy fishing for very aggressive fish. Instead of jigging as was required the rest of the morning, we simply dropped our lures to the bottom and lifted them high up off bottom and through the heavily schooled fish we saw on sonar.
The fishing died hard right around 11:05a, as the terns very abruptly went to rest on the water’s surface and the sonar screen went white indicating no targets between the surface and the bottom.
When all was said and done, we’d boated 126 fish including 121 white bass and 5 largemouth. Big fish honors went to Carly with a chunky largemouth that pulled the Boga Grip down to the 5.00 pound mark.
TALLY = 126 FISH, all caught and released
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Start Time: 7:15a
End Time: 11:15a
Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start: 54F
Water Surface Temp: 52.5F
Wind Speed & Direction: SSE6-7 for the first hour, then steadily shifting to S and increasing to 15.
Sky Conditions: Fair, cloudless skies.
Water Level: 622.86 with 622.0 being full pool. 0.05 feet of water was released in the last 24 hours.
Other: GT= 70
AREAS FISHED WITH SUCCESS:
**Area 1689 – vertical jigging for fish found on sonar with initial assist by birds (~7 gulls)
**Area 1055 – vertical jigging for fish found on sonar only
**Area 074 – vertical jigging for fish found under active flock of ~20 terns
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