Stillhouse Fishing Guide Report – 07 Nov. 2009 – SKIFF #12 – 38 Fish

I fished a split trip today, solo in the morning and then with two deployed US Army soldiers’ kids in the afternoon.

Robert Stovall (son of deployed SGT Jeffery Stovall, A/2-8 CAV, 1st Cavalry Division) with our biggest of the trip.

Jay Smith (son of deployed CW2 Anthony Smith, A/2-227th Aviation Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division) with a nice white bass he fooled by vertical jigging a TNT 180 slab.

Start Time: 6:45a

End Time: 9:00a

Break: 9:00am – 2:30p

Start Time: 2:30p

End Time: 6:05pm

Air Temp: 63F AM & 74F PM at trip’s start.

Water Surface Temp: ~68.4F

Wind: Winds were SSE at 6-7 mph., then going calm about 45 minutes prior to sunset

Skies: Skies were 100% grey in the AM, and partly cloudy in the PM.

My intent in the morning was to fish only 2 areas that I’d not fished for a while, and to fish them very thoroughly, as they are both fairly expansive.

The first area, Area 113 – 115 yielded nothing. Although sonar showed, on occasion, what I would have bet were small, single white bass, I could not get anything to hit. I covered water with a flatline troll using Rip Shads, and I fished water in detail with blades and slabs, but came up empty handed.

The second area, N. of Area 999 did have abundant shad showing suspended at 12-16 feet over a bottom ranging from 16-22 feet. I sampled this area with a blade to check for active fish and found none, and so slowed down and fished the blade vertically for the regularly showing suspended white bass now materializing in the area. As I got settled in here, small white were occasionally driving very small shad to the surface and making their characteristic feeding sound on top which was audible despite the wind. The cool, damp conditions just didn’t have a fishy “feel” to them this morning, and the fish were slugging. I caught 14 fish here including 1 short black bass, 1 nice crappie, and a dozen white bass, 3 of which exceeded 11 inches — in all a pretty slow morning. I departed at 9:00a only to return at 2:30p for an afternoon SKIFF trip.

In the early afternoon, I picked up two young men for what would be our 12th SKIFF trip of the season. SKIFF (Soldiers’ Kids Involved in Fishing Fun) Trips are provided at no charge to those military children with a parent deployed in harm’s way or who has passed away while on active duty. Here is the report I furnished to the Austin Fly Fishers, the people who raise the funds to make these SKIFF trips possible:


Since our last SKIFF trip of October 19th, Stillhouse Hollow rose to over 8 feet above full pool, and has now receded to a shade above full pool. During this time of great environmental change, and as the days are getting shorter and the water cooler, I avoided bringing kids aboard knowing the fishing would be spotty at best. This past week I encountered the first reliable activity since all of the rainfall as our water has cleared up, and so got two young men lined up to join me on the water today.

Robert Stovall is the 4th Grade son of Jeffery and Lynn Stovall. Jeffery is stationed in Iraq at Camp Taji. He is an Infantry Sergeant with Alpha Company, 2-8 Cavalry, 1st Cavalry Division. Jay Smith is the 5th Grade son of Anthony and Stephanie Smith. Anthony is also at Camp Taji. He is a Warrant Officer and flies helicopters in Alpha Company, 2-227th Aviation Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division.

Robert and Jay hit it off real well and were a joy to have aboard. We got on the water today around 2:15pm with a SSE breeze pushing at about 8-9 mph. My afternoon trips of late have started off slow, peaked about an hour before sunset, and then died right at dark, and today’s trip followed that same pattern. The water temperature rose about 3.5 degrees this week due to calm winds and brilliant sunlight all week, and as a result, we have a lot of suspended fish feeding up high in the water column as that is where the shad are, typically from 10 to 16 feet below the surface. Be began with twin downriggers deployed using a standard Pet Spoon on one and a doctored Pet Spoon on the other between Areas 035 and 161 We immediately got into fish fishing the ‘riggers staggered at 14 and 18 feet deep. As the boys got more adept at rigging the lines, I added a third, and then a fourth presentation to the spread by flatlining crankbaits over the downrigger spread. Within 90 minutes we’d boated 12 fish including 11 whites and 1 largemouth. The Pet Spoons pretty much split the take, with the smaller of the two Rip Shad baits accounting for 1 small white, and the larger one accounting for none.

I wanted to introduce the boys to technique of vertical jigging, so we left the downrigging behind after the fish tapered off and headed to Area 089. The fishing here has been consistent both for me and a local osprey over the past 2 weeks. As we idled in, sonar lit up with white bass hanging within a foot of the bottom at the base of a breakline in 25 feet of water. I buoyed these fish and gave the boys instructions on how to work a slab. Within minutes, both boys caught their first fish here, and we added a total of 10 fish to the tally during our 35-40 minutes spent here.

I also wanted to introduce the boys to the use of spinning gear (as neither had used spinning gear before). We hit the shallows shoreward of a line between Areas 130 and 407 as sunset approached, hoping we could cast blade baits for white bass laying up in the shallows, but, unfortunately, the winds began to slack off right at this time. Flat winds = flat fishing, and this evening made no exception. From the time the wind died and through the sunset period, we only put 2 more fish in the boat as we returned to downrigging and worked over 14 to 26 feet of water between Areas 535 and 418.

Jay admitted to being a real history buff, with a keen interest in World War II. Jay let his imagination wander a bit as we were doing the last of our downrigger duty and proclaimed a nearby bass boat to be an enemy ship. This caused Robert to giggle, which was all Jay needed to keep thinking up ways to convert our center console into a battleship. He suggested the downriggers could serve as machine guns, the rod holders as mortar tubes, my Carolina rig weights as bullets, my two marker buoys as binoculars and night vision goggles, and the list goes on (actually, for quite a while!). The boys got so entertained at this that our last two white bass of the night nearly took a backseat to this great sea battle about to commence.

Robert, our scientist, explained to all why the sky appeared red as the sun set – that being due to a combination of pollution and volcanic dust being transported by the jet stream.

By dark we’d done all we were going to do and headed back in. The boys both thanked me (twice) without any prompting from their moms as I carried them home and delivered them safe and sound.

We tallied 24 fish this afternoon.

TALLY = 38 fish boated today, all caught and released