Fished a half-day morning trip on Stillhouse today with father and son guests Bill and Tom C. from the Lake Travis area around Austin. Bill is a WWII fighter pilot vet who spent his post-military years in industry. Tom is a physics and chemistry teacher in the Austin area. Both were good-natured fellows and a wee bit competitive — more on that later.
BILL C. WITH HIS $10 FISH (TAKEN TOPSIDE WITH A SPOOK)
TOM C. WITH ONE OF HIS $20 FISH (A SWEET 15 1/2″ WHITE TAKEN ON A PET SPOON)
Start Time: 6:00a
End Time: 11:45a
Air Temp: 72F at trip’s start.
Water Surface Temp: ~81.3F
Wind: Winds were light from the S at around 6 at the start of the trip; they then tapered off to near calm around 7:45, then gradually increased to 18+ as the slowly turned SSW.
Skies: Skies were fair at sunrise. Then went partly cloudy from ~8:40a to 10:15a, then cleared and stayed fair for the remainder of the trip.
After meeting Tom and Bill at dockside we slowly headed out and I gave my safety talk and explained the techniques we’d be using as we went. I’ve found that the fish have been doing little on the surface until the sun has been up for a few minutes — this even pertains to the white bass which are normally a bit light sensitive and can get going pre-dawn on some days.
We looked and listened over a lot of water from Area 461 to Area 222 and from Area 007 to Area 444. At about 6:50a, just after the sun had cleared the low cloud bank in the eastern sky, I spotted surface feeding fish in the vicinity of Area 061. There was a mix of black bass and white bass, all feeding on very small ~1 1/4 inch long shad. Tom opted for using his ultra-light rig which he brought with him. I recommended throwing a Zara Puppy with that outfit and set him up on the back deck. Bill joined me in the bow and I started him out with a Cork Rig. The fish stayed aggessively feeding for approximately 45 minutes during which time we put 24 fish in the boat. At this point the sky was gettig brighter and the winds lighter and this brought the topwater nearly to a halt. We had a 30 minute span where we were making cast to “popcorn” fish showing briefly in packs of 3-4 fish and staying on the surface only a few seconds. Gradually, the skies clouded a bit and the wind began to pickup and move throught S to SW. The surface action then picked back up, with largemouth making up nearly 100% of the catch at that point, and most in the vicinity of Area 461. We found a straight-line, hastily retrieved Cork Rig elicited the best response at this point. The winds were now 15-17+ and the fish were really difficult to spot. Had we not been on these fish earlier when sighting them was easier, we probably wouldn’t have been able to spot these fish at this point. We took the tally from 24 up to 39 fish by the time the winds were blowing too hard and the sun was shining too bright for any more surface action to occur.
Around 10:15 we made a break from the topwater and changed over to downrigging. Tom was really interested in this technique. He’s often considered taking a crack at the Lake Travis striper population with downriggers, but has never yet given it a try. I tried to teach him about the particulars of this approach so he could replicate success on his “home waters” after our trip together. We started out downrigging at Area 464 in a N-S elipse. We saw scattered bait and scattered gamefish here, and broke the ice with 3 largemouth all on Pet Spoons. Knowing we could find more bait and more fish elsewhere, we left this area and headed to Area 217. As soon as we cleared the 25′ contour mark, the bait was all over the place and the gamefish were mixed right in. We stayed in this area and on these fish for the remainder of the trip putting 15 more fish in the boat on twin ‘riggers with Pets tied on. The magic depth here today was 24-26’. We landed a 50/50 mix of whites and blacks. Our best two white bass, 15 1/2 and 15 1/4 came out of this area, and 2 of our best 3 largemouth, going 2.75 pounds and 3.125 pounds, came out of this area as well. By 11:45, the morning feeding window was just about completely closed so we called it a good day and headed back to the dock.
Now, there was some interesting wagering going on between father and son that I feel compelled to report on. It seems that after Bill caught the largest fish of the trip (up to that point) he bet (really proclaimed) that the one catching the biggest fish would be owed $10 by the other. Tom then proclaimed that was all fine and good, but that the one catching the most fish would be owed $20 by the other (of course, Tom had clearly landed the most at that point). Finally, by trip’s end, and unable to resolve who owed whom what, it was agreed that the one catching the last fish would be the “winner”. That honor, and rightly so on this trip taken in honor of his birthday, went to Bill. Congratulations, Bill!!
TALLY = 57 FISH, all caught and released
Bob Maindelle, Owner, Holding The Line Guide Service and Kids Fish, Too! Stillhouse Hollow Fishing Guide, Belton Lake Fishing Guide, Lake Georgetown Fishing Guide, Walter E. Long (Decker) Lake Fishing Guide. Offering Salado Fishing, Killeen Fishing and Ft. Hood Fishing