What a great trip this morning!! I had two of the most fishing-enthusiastic young men I’ve ever had on board come out with me today. Best friends Taylor and Matt are both from Cedar Park, TX, and had done a little fishing on occasion in a stocked municipal park pond near them, but they really wanted to branch out and use different techniques and catch different species on today special trip. The boys were polite, respectful, eager to learn, and worked well alongside one another when teamwork was called for. Taylor’s mom described them as “brothers with different mothers”, and she was right on with that.

Taylor T. with the 15 3/8 inch white bass that fell for a Pet Spoon and landed him a TPWD Big Fish Award

Matt with his first white bass of the day taken from 27 feet of water over a 32 foot bottom

As we got underway this morning I first introduced the boys to the most basic of fishing techniques — using bait and floats for sunfish. We quickly boxed up 12 sunfish at Area 667 and held onto them for bait just in case the conditions we faced today turned out tough. I then introduced the boys to sonar, the principles it works by, and the important role it plays in helping us locate fish. We had some tough conditions facing us this morning, including an ENE wind on the tail of rain showers that fell through sunset the previous night. Nonetheless, we were persistent in our search for fish and, once we located a few good schools of suspended white bass and largemouth bass, we began to work them over as the boys double-teamed ’em on the downriggers. We used P12’s and P13’s today in both white and silver and caught equally well on all combinations.

Our first bit of success came between Areas 041 and 476 (3 fish). Next, we located scattered fish along the breakline from Area 665 all the way over to Area 205. We scarcely encountered more than 2-3 fish at a time, so the “competition factor” wasn’t working in our favor goading fish into hitting in order to beat their schoolmates to the meal. At two points along the way I threw a buoy out on top of a loose, bottom-hugging concentration of fish, but these fish were not very responsive as this yielded only one white bass and one largemouth, with no sonar evidence of schooling or excited fish egged on by the ones we’d hooked.

Around 10:25am, with our 12 sunfish and mix of 12 white bass and largemouth now under our belts, this area was getting soft and we needed to move on. I gave the boys a choice of fishing with livebait on downlines or continuing on with the downriggers for additional largemouth and white bass. The boys unanimously chose the downriggers so, off we went. We found more heavily schooled fish holding between Area 495 and 453 at 27-30 feet down over a 35-40 foot bottom here. In less than an hour’s time we boated an additional 10 fish (8 whites, 1 largemouth, and 1 channel cat), all on P13’s. The boys were now well-practiced on the downriggers, so, it was a joy just to steer the boat and stay on the fish while the two of them worked together to keep the lines peeled out behind the boat, put the ‘riggers down, pop the fish loose and play them in, release them, and get reset and watch anxiously for the next strike.

When guests are so enthusiastic, it’s a motivator for me to try harder and makes it easier to go the extra mile, show a few extra tricks of the trade, spend a little extra time on the water, etc.

When all was said and done Taylor and Matt had put together a catch of 34 fish, including a white bass that measured 15 3/8 inches, thus qualifying Taylor for a TPWD “Big Fish” award. This award is available to any angler who lands a fish that meets or exceeds the minimum lengths set species-by-species for gamefish in freshwater and salt. For white bass, 15 inches is the threshold length.

As our trip drew to a close, the boys were comparing notes on the dates of Christmas and their birthdays trying to figure out exactly how and when they might be able to cash in their chips and get back out on the water with me.

This was a good trip!!

TALLY = 34 FISH, all caught and released