I fished a half-day morning trip with returning guests Jim and Shena S. of the Austin area. We experienced typical summertime fare today including some topwater action, some action from deepwater white bass, and some action from suspended gamefish on downriggers.
After everyone was aboard, we situated ourselves on the front deck and practiced a few scenarios to make sure both Jim and Shena understood the importance of quick, accurate casting, and to give them an idea of their own casting range with the rigs we were using. With that accomplished, we headed out to search for topwater action and found very little happening despite fairly favorable conditions. Then, like someone turned on a switch, at 7:45am, schools of largemouth just appeared on the surface and began feeding with abandon.
Jim and Shena with a few of the whites taken from a deepwater school on chrome bladebaits — the nickel/silver Cicada.
The surface was glassy calm and the sun was bright by this time, so fooling these bass was no easy task. Jim and Shena kept at it, throwing at all the fish they found within range, and, one by one, the fish began coming over the side of the boat after falling for the Cork Rig. As I worked the trolling motor and observed sonar, I noted a lot more fish suspended than were showing on the surface, so, despite some limited success on top (3 bass landed to this point at Area 481), we changed gears and transitioned to the use of bladebaits fished lift-drop style and were quickly and well-rewarded for our efforts. By the time the feeding spree had ended, we’d boated a total of 22 fish, most of which were very solid 13-14 inch, very thick white bass, from between Areas 517 and 480). Many of the fish we brought in regurgitated small shad as they neared the surface — further evidence of what was going on beneath the surface.
Once the topwater died down and became just sporadic, we switched over to downrigging for the remainder of the trip. Keying on the forage size we observed, we included small Pet Spoons in our spread and lowered the balls to an average of 23 feet over water from 25 to 40 feet deep. We worked an area from Area 205 to 444 up through about 10:40 and landed a nice mixed bag of white bass, freshwater drum, and largemouth when things began to soften. At this time I pointed out to Jim and Shena the rather abrupt change in the forage fishes’ orientation. They had gone from being in tight, suspended balls and clouds, to a relaxed state, nearly blanketing the bottom in the lower 2-4 feet of the water column. This usually signifies the beginning of the end of the feed in the summer months, and, indeed, the action here tapered quickly over the next 15-20 minutes to near nothing.
We made one final move west to see if we could put a two-fish finishing touch on a 48 fish trip. We idled into Area 056 and some gamefish began popping on sonar, again, at 23-24 feet down. The bait was scarce, but what bait there was was still balled up tight — not a bad sign. We got ‘rigger balls down and over a 25 minute span came up with 3 more fish — 2 white bass and a largemouth. I knew we’d reached the point of diminishing returns now, so, with 51 fish boated and the temperature steadily heading for the 90’s, we called it a day and headed back to the dock.
TALLY = 51 FISH, all caught and released
Start Time: 6:15a
End Time: 11:45a
Air Temp: 78F at trip’s start, heading towards the high-90’s.
Water Surface Temp: ~86.0F
Wind: Winds were around 4SSE at sunrise, then slowly turned SSW and built to around 8 by trip’s end.
Skies: Skies were clear and bright with a briefly lingering bank of clouds in the E just post-sunrise.