So THAT’S why your eyes are red!! Stillhouse, 30 Dec. 2010 (AM), 70 FISH

I had a fun “bunch” aboard this morning for some cool water white bass fishing. Grandpa Phil D. of Georgetown brought his two grandsons, Riley and Jacob out. Phil’s intent for the boys was for them to catch a mess of white bass and have fun doing it; his intent for Phil was to get better at sonar interpretation by picking my brain on use of the Lowrance HDS-10 with Structure Scan I’ve got on board which works in very much the way his HDS-7 does. We were able to meet all expectations by trip’s end.

Jacob B. of Salado proudly holds the big fish of the trip.

Jacob (R) and Riley (L) stayed very consistent with their technique and very attentive to the often light-biting fish to put together a respectable stringer today.

As we got going this morning, the skies were still pretty murky, dark, and grey following sunrise, so, we stayed in shallow water for a while both flatline trolling and observing, mainly for bird activity. We picked up our first fish (Jacob broke the ice) on a flatlined Wiggle Wart — an 11 inch white bass — just on the W. side of Area 999. I didn’t see enough action to make me want to stick around here, so we packed up and headed to deep water.

One thing we did have going for us was the wind going S. 13 before the sun even rose, and staying at that speed for nearly the entire trip. We did some looking over some deep flats and did spot some fish with sonar in the vicinity of Area 549/702. As I often do with beginners, we began with heavier than ideal slabs so that the boys could appreciate key sensations which are amplified when using a heavy bait such as 1) the lure falling, 2) the lure striking bottom, 3) the lure fluttering back to bottom during jigging, and 4) the lure stopping at the end of the jigging stoke.

Both boys quickly got the hang of things and we put fish after fish in the boat for 3 solid hours. As is often necessary this time of year once a bite goes soft, we moved about the area where we’d initially contacted fish after the fish turned off a bit in order to exploit “pockets” of fish finding 3-8 fish or so each time we made a move. In all, by around 11:00am, we’d boated 54 fish, 100% of which were white bass.

We decided to make one final move to Area 713 (BA: 6 HG, 4T) and found actively feeding white bass staying tight to the bottom in only 17 feet of water. We picked up 16 more fish here in about 35 minutes’ time, including an “eleventh hour” black bass boated by Jacob.

As we headed in, I noticed Phil’s eyes were kind of red — that’s because he stared wide-eyed at the sonar without blinking for 4 1/2 hours straight!!! (Just kidding — kind of!).

I always enjoy having youngsters aboard, and young men of Jacob and Riley’s age are my favorite — they’re eager (as most all kids are) AND they can do all that’s required technique-wise to do well (that’s typically not true for younger kids).

TALLY = 70 FISH, all caught and released


Start Time: 1:15p

End Time: 5:35p

Air Temp: 63F at trip’s start.

Water Surface Temp: ~53.4F

Wind: Winds were S14 with occasional higher gusts.

Skies: Mostly grey and cloudy, clearing to partly cloudy

A Little Deprogramming Goes a Long Way; Stillhouse, 30 Dec. 2010 (PM). 108 FISH

What beautiful weather this afternoon! A south wind, sunny skies and temps around 70 made it a great way to close out the year today. I fished today with C.W. of north Austin who grew up stream fishing for trout in Utah. Given this background, C.W. already handled a spinning rod real well which gave him a leg up on this trip.

C.W. with a sampling of the 106 fish we took today. Eager learners always do best on my boat, and such was C.W.

Given the sun’s intensity, we began our trip in deeper water and gradually moved to mid-depths. We were fortunate to locate fish very shortly after we began searching, finding abundant white bass schooled tightly on bottom in ~36 feet of water near Area 079. The fish got frenzied for a while as we first began fishing here, thus allowing for a smoking tactic to be used. That’s where the deprogramming came in … C.W. was used to setting the hook “on contact”, as is appropriate in most angling situations, however, in this scenario, simply allowing the rod to load as the fish grabs the lure results in infinitely more landed fish. Indeed, C.W. missed the first 4 fish that he reflexively set the hook on, and then settled in and landed fish steadily for the remainder of the afternoon after retraining his brain and muscles. Together, we boated 25 fish before the smoking retrieve no longer attracted strikes, after which we changed over to a jigging technique. We boated the majority of our fish — 79 to be exact — here, and then hopped here and there to boat the remainder of our 106 fish take.

We had success at Areas 145, 697, and 698. At each area we found roughly the same scenario — fish present but sluggish, allowing a few fish to be caught right off the bat, then forcing us to really work for a few additional fish. It was clear that we’d experienced the majority of the afternoon’s “window of opportunity” on Area 079 as that afternoon feed ramped up, peaked, and dropped off. So, this marginal activity was to be expected, especially given the decreasing winds.

By sunset, our count stood at 107 fish. I told C.W. we’d try one more area given how bright the skies were following sunset.

As we idled into area 329, I saw suspended white bass on sonar. This was going to afford C.W. an opportunity to do a bit of “sniping”. As we hovered over the fish, I’d point out fish on the sonar, and C.W. would work his lure right to the fish trying to provoke a response. We took chances on about 8 fish, and, finally, got one to take the bait. The fish wasn’t anything to write home about, but there is a sense of satisfaction that comes when you’ve been successful using a technique that is new to you.

C.W. and I both thank his lovely wife for getting him a fishing gift certificate for Christmas. This was a very enjoyable trip for me. I fancy myself a “teaching and coaching guide” and C.W. was a very teachable fellow and did well as a result of his willingness to learn.

TALLY = 108 FISH, all caught and released


Start Time: 1:15p

End Time: 5:35p

Air Temp: 66F at trip’s start.

Water Surface Temp: ~54.6F

Wind: Winds were S11 at trip’s start and slowly tapered to S4 by trip’s end.

Skies: Fair.