Josh M. called me late last week asking about the possibility of a “Kids Fish, Too!” trip for his son, Cory. Cory is a “nuts-about-fishing” 11 year old who came out with me previously over the summer of 2010. We downrigged for white bass and largemouth bass on that trip and Cory enjoyed himself, but, on this trip he wanted to be more “hands on” than he could be with the downriggers. I let Josh know that my winter fishing trips are nearly 100% vertical jigging and would engage Cory the entire time. We agreed to work a trip in when the weather was just right.
Cory worked a mean slab today to put his fair share of exactly 100 fish in the boat just before Texas froze over.
Well, today, sooner than expected, the weather was just right. Today was literally the calm before the storm — a balmy 64 degree high with light SSE winds and a bit of humidity and cloud cover, all in advance of a severe arctic cold front now just hours away from central Texas. There is no better setup in the winter than a day with a 14mph or less wind from the S or W just in advance of a cold front.
We launched at 2p, and immediately found a fair-sized school of white bass holding just off the river channel in 35-26 feet at Area 186 (BA:9 T). With exactly zero prior experience in vertical jigging, Cory’s fishing savvy shone right through as he matched me fish for fish for the first 25 fish we boated (24 white bass and 1 largemouth). These fish stayed turned on for around 40 minutes and then slacked off, so, we went searching again.
Again we found fish in 37-38 feet of water, and again just off the main channel at Area 679. The first 10 fish we boated here were the largest of the trip, each going 13+ inches, with the largest going 13 7/8 inches. These fish were not all that jazzed and therefore it took a little work to get them to bite, but, by the time these fish turned off we’d put another 18 fish in the boat (all white bass).
Off again … this time to Area 721 where, in 35 feet of water we encountered another bottom-hugging school also just yards away from the main channel. We pulled 17 fish out of this school before they gave up the ghost (16 white bass and 1 short largemouth).
It was now around 5p and their was a noticeable uptick in natural activity. Sensing we’d have a strong pre-sunset feed tonight, I spot-hopped and quickly searched with sonar hoping to find a large congregation of fish ready for one last strong feed before night brought great weather changes.
We found such a congregation at Area 103. With exactly 60 fish boated at this time and based on the awesome picture my sonar was painting, I encouraged Cory that, with concentration and attention to detail on his jigging technique, the two of us could definitely land another 40 fish to make it 100 even for this trip, all prior to sunset.
He just grinned, and then I knew he was up for the challenge! Things started off well — the fish were active enough to be taken on a smoking retrieve, so, we smoked ’em when we could and jigged ’em when we had to and, by sunset had exactly 99 in the boat, but, the last 2 were spaced well apart and were really tough to goad into biting. Number 100 was going to be a tough one. I put away our slabbing gear and got out the sniping gear. I talked Cory through how to follow his lure on sonar and, by the time our 3rd shot at a suspended white bass came along, Cory had figured things out enough to make some magic happen. We both watched as Cory moved his lure and the fish moved with it until it overtook his lure and his rod tip loaded. Cory pulled up, the hook hit paydirt, we boated the 100th fish of the trip and cheers broke out!! By now we’d worn out our welcome and I knew we’d not catch any more. We loaded up and headed to the dock.
TALLY = 100 FISH, all caught and released
Start Time: 2:00p
End Time: 6:15p
Starting Air Temp: 64F
Ending Air Temp: 61F
Water Surface Temp: 52F
Wind: SSE9 slowly turning and tapering to ENE2
Skies: Partly cloudy ~50%