I fished a father / daughter outing today with Jim and Shena S. of N. Austin. After a 50 year hiatus, Jim has rekindled his interest in fishing, finding it an enjoyable way to spend time with his daughter and grandson. Both he and Shena were self-confessed beginners and have been struggling to put all the pieces together while recently trying some kayak-based angling. They came with some very specific objectives in mind including: 1. To learn to read a lake to locate fish. 2. To understand the variables that affect fish activity and determine fishing tactics. 3. To obtain my recommendations on tackle selection and my evaluation what we have in our tackle box. And, 4. To learn to read fishing electronics and to get my recommendations for kayak electronics.
Jim S. with his largest catch of the day, a 4.25 pound largemouth
Shena and Jim with Shena’s 2.75 pounder taken on a blade bait.
Start Time: 7:10a
End Time: 6:35pm
Air Temp: 65F at trip’s start.
Water Surface Temp: ~74.3F
Wind: Winds were from the S to SSE the entire trip beginning at about 10 mph and ramping up to over 25mph due to compressional warming prior to an advancing cold front due to arrive tomorrow.
Skies: Skies were overcast the entire trip.
I’ve got to say at the onset that this was a most memorable trip, not so much because of the fish we caught, though we did well, but, because of Jim and Shena’s enthusiasm to learn about this sport. I do not exaggerate when I say that this 74 year old fellow brought a 2-page, type-written, single spaced list of questions to be sure to ask as we made our way through the day. It was a neat experience for me to relive my own journey through the sport as I thought of sound answers to Jim’s questions.
As we began our day, I broke out the topographic map of Stillhouse and showed my guests where we’d be fishing and why we’d be fishing there given the season, water temperature, and past experience. We slipped up into Area 407 looking for some shallow white bass and black bass action here on bladebaits. I got a white bass on my first “confirmation” cast checking to see what the attitude of the fish was like this day. I then gave Jim and Shena pointers to get them working their blades in an effective manner. They went on to both catch fish by way of the blades, including a nice 2.75 pound largemouth boated by Shena not 40 minutes into our trip. Before the shallow bite died, we’d managed 8 fish caught here.
Once the shallow bite died down, we checked Area 999 to no avail. We then fished Area 116 at the 10-14 foot contour by way of flatline trolling, and picked up a fish on every pass for 10 consecutive passes, skipped a pass, then picked up an 11th fish here. Our tally now stood at 19 fish.
In an effort to try to introduce a multitude of techniques, we shifted our efforts now to some deeper water and gave both vertical jigging and downrigging a try. Both of these techniques lent themselves well to giving instruction on the use of and interpretation of sonar. We targeted just to the west of Area 135 as it was in line with the now SSE wind blowing around 17-19mph, and the SSE end of the feature was our focus since that is where the wind was impacting. Sonar revealed ample fish within 2 feet of bottom in about 27 feet of water. We began by vertical jigging with slabs, but boat control in the nearly 20mph wind became an issue, and I wasn’t confident Jim and Shena could get and keep their presentation in the “sweet spot” near bottom. We did encounter some patrolling schools of suspended white bass here which allowed us to “smoke” our slabs and hookup. Shena and I both landed fish and Jim missed on this way before things got too rough and I switched us over to downrigging. We boated 4 white bass by downrigging, all on the #13 Pet Spoon, before the fish and bait holding on the high point of this area moved off. We’d now boated 25 fish.
The wind now cranked up another notch to over 22mph and we decided to take a mid-day restroom break. While tied up at dockside, I introduced another technique that Jim and Shena could take back and introduce to 5 year old James (son / grandson) — that of float fishing with a pole. We baited up with a bit of worm and poked around the shoreline, quickly coming up with 2 sunfish and a blacktail shiner — just enough to demonstrate the technique, show how the float looks during the “nibble” versus when the fish fully “take” the bait, etc. The count now stood at 28 fish landed.
At this point we decided to take an on-the-water lunch break while introducing yet another technique — that of live bait fishing. As Jim and Shena downed some groceries, I set up some downline with live shad in the vicinity of Area 529. We had some good success through about 2:00p, then things got quiet after that. Prior to the fish settling down, we landed 3 largemouth, including the largest fish of the trip, a 4.25 pounder, as well as 2 white bass and a nice 13″ crappie. The tally now stood at 34 fish caught, with several more lost on, as is typical when fishing live bait.
Jim and Shena had no other plans today, nor did I. They didn’t mind waiting out the lull in action that I predicted would last until ~5pm or so, and, besides, Jim was only half-way through his list of questions, so, we made another move, anchored in a bit of a protected area (Area 530), let down some baits and ate blonde brownies and talked fishing until things picked up later in the evening.
Around 5:15, some bottom hugging white bass moved in on our shad — we landed 3 in a row and couldn’t keep the rods baited fast enough — an indicator that we needed to get our artificial offerings back down. Shena was quick to adopt to the situation. She dropped a slab and began smoking it and caught fish very consistently for about a half-hour. Jim stuck with the bait a bit longer and also caught fish, although many of the shad were a bit large for many of the smaller white bass to engulf, so we wound up getting a lot of short strikes and tail-struck baits. Once Jim joined in with Shena and I fishing vertically, all three of us were then able to put fish in the boat By around 6pm, that flurry was beginning to slow down and eventually died altogether. That last “blitz” of white bass earned us an additional 23 fish to close out our trip on a great note.
The skies had begun to clear and the wind began to calm as the day crept toward sunset. We took an extra few minutes to crack open Jim’s tacklebox and discuss, section by section, appropriate scenarios in which the various lures he’d purchased would be effective.
By trip’s end we’d accomplished what we’d set out to do and caught some fish while doing it. Jim and Shena departed very pleased that they’d done more than catch fish — they’d increased their own potential to catch fish.
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