Well, after a long run of guided trips on Belton, I had a down day today and decided to give things a whirl by myself on Stillhouse. The season is definitely still behind a normal pace as I’ve yet to see much in the way of spawning shad, and the fish aren’t yet plentiful in the lower lake.
This 6.75 pound, 24.00 inch largemouth caught today is now pending as the Catch & Release category lake record for this species on Stillhouse Hollow Reservoir.
Start Time: 6:30a
End Time: 12:10p
Air Temp: 66F at trip’s start.
Water Surface Temp: 69F
Wind: Winds were pushing 12 to 13 from the SSW pre-dawn and only built from there to sustained 22mph by noon with higher gusts in the afternoon.
Skies: Skies were partly cloudy.
I had hoped to ferret out some topwater action today, but the surface was too rough for spotting such a thing, and our birds are gone, so, that leaves sonar and experience as the tools of choice.
I did some looking at some traditional lower lake areas hoping at least to find bait in good concentrations, but this was not to be. I landed two small white bass in the first 90 minutes of fishing, both via downrigging after reacting quickly to targets showing on sonar. One of these came in the vicinity of Area 205, the other in the vicinity of Area 222
I then headed west and continued the search for bait. At Area 079, at the base of a slope adjacent to the main river channel, I found the bottom carpeted to 3 feet high with gamefish and bait just above them. This action existed over an area about 40 yards in diameter. I immediately lowered the trolling motor, got into a hover over these fish and went to work with the slab (TNT 180) and smoked 14 fish in as many drops. I had some leftover bait on board, so, when I saw a largemouth that I estimated at 5 pounds pursue a juvenile white bass I had hooked, I put a handheld downline out and decided to see what it would produce. My bait immediately got nervous and then got thumped. I resisted the urge to set the hook knowing that it often takes a bit of doing for fish to orient a large bait just right in their mouths. Once I felt the fish move in a definitive direction, I set the hook. I knew the fish was a good one by the way it hardly budged when the hook hit paydirt. After a few bulldog runs and one half-hearted attempt to wallow on the surface, I netted a sweet 6.75 pound largemouth bass measuring exactly 24″. After a few quick photos, I put her back in the water in good shape to fight again.
With this good initial experience with bait, I went ahead and anchored instead of fighting the steadily strengthening wind, and put out a total of 3 rods with downlines. I landed 12 more largemouth up to 3.25 pounds, with all of them clearing the 15″ mark — which, of late, has been a pretty rare feat on Stillhouse with the demise of our hydrilla.
For the trip, the tally was 13 largemouth bass and 20 white bass, all caught and released.
TALLY = 33 FISH