Like Someone Flipped a Switch, 81 Fish, 29 March 2011, Stillhouse

Well, the moral of today’s fishing story is that “Persistence pays off.”!!

Proud Pop Mike and his son, Kyle, with a sampling from the brief but intense action we uncovered this morning.

Little tough-guy Kyle boated our largest white bass today and nearly went hypothermic doing it!

The adventure began long before we met at the dock this morning when, from Iraq, Mike M. contacted me by e-mail about taking him and his son on a fishing trip during his R&R. I told Mike that no matter when his R&R was, I would make a hole in my booking schedule so that he and his son could be assured of a trip together. As Mike’s R&R date got closer, we set a tentative date for our trip. With the transition of US forces out of Iraq, things like flights home have gotten harder to come by. Concerned by his platoon sergeant’s report that it took him ~10 days to get back to the US, Mike contacted me and asked to push our date back. We did. Next, once Mike got to the US and back to Texas, we re-looked at our calendars (and the weather) and thought this past Saturday looked good. Nope! That got trumped by pre-existing family plans. Now I was starting to sweat it, as Mike was running out of leave and there wasn’t a single 1/2 day of weather in the forthcoming week that I could get excited about as of this past Saturday night. Nonetheless, with a SSE wind called for on Tuesday evening, we chose that over winds from the N, NE, and E that were forecast the remainder of the week. No sooner did we do that, than on Sunday the forecast changed, moving the SSE wind on Tuesday into the morning hours. Mike was flexible enough to change, so we nailed that down.

Then, at 7:15am at the boat ramp, apparently no one informed Mother Nature that she was supposed to be blowing SSE — her memo read due east at 8 — a real killer for good fishing.

I just shook my head as I launched thinking this was NOT going to be the trip I wanted for this soldier and his son after we’d planned it for so long.

We started off flatline trolling for the first hour or so to have lines in the water as I looked over several patches of bottom and observed for birds and watched sonar. We boated 2 white bass, 1 crappie, and 1 short largemouth on crankbaits during this time at Area 116, at NW of Area 999, and at the circuit through Areas 114, 386, 319, 704, and 343.

By 8:30 the skies had brightened to where I felt comfortable checking out some deeper breaklines. We checked one, then another, then another … nine areas in all and only scattered bait was showing. By 10am we’d only caught one additional short white bass at Area 186 and I was the one who caught it. Five fish in nearly 3 hours … this was looking bad.

As we went to check out our tenth area, the sun appeared (obscured) through the still-heavy clouds to the SE, and the skies brightened just a bit. Simultaneously, the wind shifted about 25 degrees further south. As we idled over Area 329, I saw some signs of life down there in 27 feet of water and buoyed the area. I got the boat in a hover over this area and got the boys up on the front deck. By now they were VERY accustomed to this drill and, without a word, got their slabs down to bottom, adjusted correctly AND THEN IT HAPPENED!! The school of white bass I saw glued to the bottom literally “came unglued” and rose up off the bottom to strike our lures from the first drop down amongst them and for 75 minutes straight thereafter. During this time we caught a mix of white bass ranging from 7 to 12.5 inches non-stop using a smoking technique. We went from a total catch of 5 fish at 10am to an end-of-trip total of 81 fish boated by 11:22. It was truly like Someone flipped a switch.

Needless to say, I thanked the Lord for pulling my bacon out of the fire and helping this father and son have the trip I had intended for them.

Little Kyle was a real trooper. By the time we’d arrived at our 6th “barren” spot, I could see his rod tip quivering as he shook in the cool, damp conditions, but, he persisted and it paid off in the end.

And so went this trip … an awesome ending more than making up for a cold, slow start … and Mike heading back to Iraq with memories of his son and a great day of white bass fishing in Texas!

TALLY = 81 FISH, all caught and released

FISH DOCTOR!! 82 Fish, Belton Lake, 26 March 2011

This evening I welcomed John G. of Temple and his two children, Jacob (10) and Abby (8), aboard. John is a resident training in the anesthesiology department at Scott and White to become a medical doctor and was referred by one of the doctors on staff there, Bill J., who has fished with me twice in the past (Thanks, Bill!).

Jacob and Abby hold the best four white bass we boated tonight in a 2 hour flurry of pre-frontal activity before the east wind ground everything to a halt.

After the heavy feed we experienced this morning, there came a lengthy mid-day pause in fish activity, accompanied by calm conditions and bright skies. The “saving grace” on this was that we were still in a pre-frontal state, and indeed, at around 7:50pm, the lead edge of the cold front reached Belton Lake with a wind shift and some pretty ominous clouds, some with electricity in them.

As we met at dockside at 4:00pm, we took our time and reviewed the various techniques that we’d be putting into practice, as well as a few items of safety.

I let the kids know that the first hour would likely be slow, and then slowly build toward that “magic time” before sunset when the fishing would get much better.

We began our trip by setting twin downriggers out staggered at 10 and 16 feet and consistently caught both white bass and small hybrid striped bass on Swimmin’ Images and Thin Fins. After we’d boated our 8th fish in the first 40 minutes or so, I spotted some bird activity at Area 752. We headed over there and eased up the final 50 yards or so with the trolling motor (which is important to do given shallow fish in calm conditions). We began using a smoking technique for these fish and managed a few, however, we were right on the ragged lead edge of the evening feed and the fish just weren’t quite turned on yet enough to keep two youngsters interested.

We returned to downrigging and boated 4 more fish, all solid white bass, right away at Area 753 in just two passes. This level of activity in addition to the posture of the fish as they showed on sonar (holding near bottom, but not on it) told me these were more active fish that were already in feeding mode. We pulled in the downriggers and returned to a smoking technique from a hover position and boated fish there for 2 hours straight. All fish came on 3/4 oz. TNT 180’s in white. Most fish were white bass on the smallish side, with keeper whites and juvenile hybrid mixed in — they made up for in quantity what they lacked in quality — and that was just perfect for kids their age and experience level.

John (dad) told me one of the reasons they gave me a try was due to their lack of success in fishing from the bank on both Belton and Stillhouse. He recalled times in the past when the kids would eagerly respond to the offer to go fishing, but, after a couple of unsuccessful bank fishing attempts, saw their enthusiasm waning, and so was hoping this trip would serve as a “booster” to keep the kids’ interest in the outdoors and give him some insight on what it takes to be successful on our local water bodies. By the time we left I think he was thinking harder about a boat! Bank fishing in this area is just a tough proposition no matter how you slice it.

At exactly 7:37p, the wind very suddenly shifted from south to northeast and the fish responded immediately and negatively. I told my guests that we’d seen the best of it, and, with the wind building, the skies darkening, and a really good evening of fishing already enjoyed, we decided to pack it up and head to the dock.

TALLY = 82 FISH, all caught and released


Start Time: 4:00p

End Time: 7:45p

Air Temp: 84F at trip’s start.

Water Surface Temp: ~68F

Wind: Winds were WNW4 for the first hour, then came SSE7 from around 5 to 7:30p and then shifted suddenly NE10 at around 7:30p.

Skies: Skies were fair with building clouds to the NE with the approaching cold front.

Exciting Near-surface Fishing on Belton, 87 Fish, 26 March 2011

This morning I fished with Coach Mark E. and his 9 year old son, Ethan, and 6 year old daughter, Ellie. Mark serves as an Assistant Athletic Director with the Belton school district and came on a word-of-mouth referral from a co-worker, Ken S., who has had his boys out with me twice before (thank you, Ken!).

With rapidly warming water and the fishes’ metabolism increasing, heavy feeds at all levels in the water column are common. Here’s a screenshot from this morning’s trip.

Ellie boated our first keeper hybrid on a large swimbait this morning.

Not to be outdone by his little sister, Ethan boated our largest fish of the trip, this 5 1/8 pound, 21.75 inch hybrid taken on a TNT 180 slab in 3/4 oz. white.

I had a very good feeling about today’s trip as we had a cold front on the way in, but our fishing time would be influenced by pre-frontal south winds in advance of the wind shift and weather change.

We launched just prior to an obscured sunrise and did a little downrigging to pass the time between sunrise and the skies becoming bright enough to spur the fish on to feed and allow birds to see the bait being forced to the surface. We didn’t have to wait long today — at 7:54a I spotted the first bit of bird activity and it was “game on” from that time forward.

We began catching fish — a mix of 16-17 inch hybrid and keeper white bass — at Area 751. Ethan was very capable with spinning gear and was catching fish independently in the bow, while Mark and I worked with Ellie to cast for her (into the fish we saw boiling to ensure her success) while she retrieved. After both children had caught a number of fish, I then worked with Ellie one-on-one and quickly taught her how to cast with a spinning outfit. She was a quick learner and after just 2-3 so-so attempts, got all 6 cylinders firing and was casting and catching her own fish for the balance of the trip. The near-surface action here lasted for over an hour. All the while, fish were spread, albeit at a lesser density, between us and Area 298, as well as to the east of a line between Area 751 and Area 298 by about 150 yards.

When the action at Area 751 waned with the brightening of the sky, we eased out to the deeper water at Area 298 and, instead of fishing only for sub-surface fish, we smoked for those fish seen on sonar at mid-depth between the 42 foot bottom and the surface, and also used a “count down” technique to target those fish that were still sub-surface at 12 feet deep and shallower.

When this action died, we moved over to some obvious bird activity at Area 579 where we found mostly small white bass and juvenile hybrid. We used strictly a smoking technique for these fish as they were found only in the lower third of the water column in ~35 feet of water.

Finally, as some bird action was just developing in the vicinity of Area 561, we found fish right on the shallow end of the 24 to 32 foot breakline and, using a smoking technique, again encountered mostly smallish white bass along with juvenile hybrid and an occasional keeper white bass.

At exactly 10:23am, based on the calming wind, the brightening sky, and the rapid decrease in feeding activity we were experiencing, I looked back toward Mark and told him, “This is the beginning of the end.” By then, anything less than the intense fishing we’d already enjoyed was going to be anticlimactic, so, he wisely decided we’d call it a very good morning, and we ended on a great note right there with exactly 87 fish boated.

TALLY = 87 FISH, all caught and released


Start Time: 7:15a

End Time: 10:45a

Air Temp: 70F at trip’s start.

Water Surface Temp: ~67F

Wind: Winds were S6 and stayed that way until around 10:30 when they tapered to light and variable for the mid-day period.

Skies: Skies were mostly cloudy at 70-80% at sunrise, slowly clearing to ~20% cloudy by trip’s end.

BLITZ!!! 157 FISH — Belton Lake Fishing Guide’s Report, 21 March 2011

Wow! What a morning of fishing we had! Every so often all of the variables just line up right and you have one of those days you remember for a long time. Today was one of those days.

From L to R — Mark, Terry (with 19.50 inch hybrid), and Matthew W.

After culling all morning, these were our best 6 white bass, all over 13.25 inches.

The first variable was people. I had a very enjoyable trio on board today, Terry W. and his two adult sons, Mark and Matthew. These fellows got along well and enjoyed one anothers’ company, they were personable, they appreciated being coached and they really listened to and applied the guidance I gave them. They remained enthusiastic the entire time and, as a result, they stayed focused so their technique stayed consistent and productive. All three had done a good bit of fishing, could cast well, quickly grasped the techniques necessary to consistently put fish in the boat, avoided tangles and snags, took most of their own fish off the hook, etc. These things all added up to allow us to maximize potential as the fish cooperated.

The second variable was weather. We’ve had stable weather for 1 week now (typically unheard of in the springtime in Texas) with good southerly winds and cloud cover. This cloud cover has masked the full moon, thus putting feeding periods into the daylight hours.

The third variable is temperature. Fish are cold-blooded, and their metabolism increases and decreases with the water temperature. Right now the water is steadily warming and today was in the low 60’s. That means that the fishes’ caloric requirements are also increasing and frequent, hard feeding is becoming more and more common.

The fourth variable is birds. The presence of birds is icing on the cake. Birds can help you make a shortcut to active fish by providing a visual cue as to where the fish are. Otherwise, searching multiple areas with sonar is the fall-back option, and it is slow and tedious, even with state of the art sonar on board.

We launched at 7:09, first wet a line at 7:15, found active fish by 7:32 and never got out of actively feeding fish by moving from place to place until right at 11:45 when the bird action died as the skies cleared and brightened and the winds approached 20mph.

We caught a mix of white bass and hybrid striped bass today, with one token largemouth thrown in for good measure with another one lost at boatside. The fish were simply on an extended feeding binge today — I’d hate to be a threadfin shad on days like today because those poor rascals didn’t get a breather. We landed multiple 13-14 inch long white bass, and our longest hybrid went 19.50 inches. We sight-cast to boiling fish when we could, and used a smoking tactic when fish left the surface and sonar revealed their presence beneath us; the fish never really slowed down to the point where grinding it out by jigging the slab was necessary. A 3/4 oz. white TNT 180 slab did the trick today taking 95% of our catch.

In the order it occurred, we found action at Areas 574, 748, 592, 749, 750, NW of 593 (40′), and 579

For our efforts, we we rewarded with 157 fish boated in 4.5 hours of fishing.

TALLY = 157 FISH, all caught and released


Start Time: 7:15a

End Time: 11:45a

Air Temp: 66F at trip’s start.

Water Surface Temp: ~62.5F

Wind: Winds were SSE9 at obscured sunrise and increased steadily to SSE18+ by trip’s end.

Skies: Skies were mostly cloudy at 90-100% all morning, with clearing beginning as our trip concluded.

Belton Lake Fishing Guide Report – 19 Mar. 2011 – 61 Fish

I fished with a wonderful newlywed couple from Leander, TX, this morning, Jason and Morgan T. After a packed-full Spring Break fishing schedule this week it was great to end the marathon with a very experienced pair of fishermen on board.

Jason and Morgan with a hybrid striped bass that struck a Swimmin’ Image crankbait run behind a downrigger ball over open water.

Jason and Morgan own a small plane and have used it to shuttle themselves to some great fishing destinations in both salt and freshwater and both inside and outside the U.S. and had a great breadth of experience as a result. Their experience paid off today when we had to “grind it out” in order to put together the catch we did.

I was hoping for a continuation of the “easy” fishing we encountered last night where we found ample bird activity over the water with aggressive surface action below it yielding, among other things, keeper hybrid striped bass, but this was not to be. Our winds took and easterly turn and the fish got sluggish as they often do under such conditions. We vertical jigged for our first 49 fish, and then ran downriggers for our last 12.

We began our day near Area 739 in about 18 feet of water and boated four white bass and a short largemouth.

Our next significant catch came at Area 747. We stayed in this area longer than any other, initially lured there my some limited bird action. We boated a mixed bag of white bass (both short and keeper) and short hybrid here. Jason hung a good one that did nothing but take drag, but it pulled the hook before we even got a look at it. I suspect a nice 6+ pound hybrid based on the way is swam and fought, but, we’ll never know for sure.

Around 11:30 the action up shallow got hard to come by, so, partially to continue catching fish and partially to satisfy Jason’s curiosity about downrigging, we used downriggers to target some “high riding” gamefish found over ~40′ between Areas 574 and 748 We put balls down at both 10 and 16 feet with a Swimmin’ Image on one and a Thin Fin on the other. Both caught fish equally well and allowed us to add another 12 fish to our tally.

Along the way today we got to talk about favorite fish and fishing destinations, hunting and favorite quarry, whitetail management, church, aviation, good restaurants, dogs, business, and more. We found we had a lot in common, so both the fishing and the company was very enjoyable today!!

By 12:30 I saw very little in the way of catchable fish on sonar so we decided to call it a day at that point. We headed in for a few photos and parted ways.

TALLY = 61 FISH, all caught and released

Today’s Conditions:

Start Time: 7:15a

End Time: 12:30p

Starting Air Temp: 62F

Water Surface Temp: 61.4F

Wind: ESE6 at trip’s start increasing to SE15 by trip’s end

Skies: Clear at sunrise, then increasing to 100% overcast through the mid-morning period, then decreasing cloudiness to ~40% by midday.

Hybrid Went Wild on Top, 18 March 2011 (PM), 62 Fish

I welcomed aboard by younger brother, Andy M., of Austin this evening, along with my sister-in-law, Amy, and my nephew and niece, Trent (15) and Molly (13); my wife, Rebecca, served as “mate”, passing the hemostats to unhook fish and working the net as needed – and did a bang-up job of both I might add. This was one of the last “big events” in their Spring Break schedule which included a visit to Port Aransas, bowling, rock climbing, a trip to an Austin zoo, and more.

From L to R … Trent, Amy, Andy, Unknown Hybrid, and Molly all finishing up Spring Break 2011

I’d fished enough trips this week to know that a traditional trip of 4 hours was going to involve some significant “slow” time in the mid-afternoon, so we decided to hold off until the sun got lower and the fish got more active so we could get the kids right on fish and keep them there.

We launched at 5:15p, checked out the Area 150 complex and saw some promising activity on bottom, but nothing came of it.

We moved on and, as I looked with my spotting scope, I found abundant surface action (BA: 60G) spread between Area 748 and 574, all within 150 yards of shore. The fishing was very simple — we all made long casts into the fish with 3/4 oz. TNT 180 slabs in white color, counted our slabs down to where the fish were (as seen on sonar) and began a peppy retrieve to imitate the large threadfin shad that these fish were feeding upon.

We caught white bass of all sizes and hybrid striped bass of all sizes, including 6 that were at or above the “legal” length of 18″.

Things got a bit crazy on occasions when we had triple hookups or when a fish decided it wanted to play kamikaze with the trolling motor propeller, but, everyone worked together, gave the person with the fish on the right-of-way, and it all worked outwell.

We were totally by ourselves for quite some time. When were were joined by others, we experienced a bit of courtesy that is all too rare on Belton Lake these days. Two older fellows in a Blue Wave center console actually cut their motor well before coming up on us as we fished for these fish. They lowered their trolling motor upwind, and trolled toward the action instead of doing what most folks do, which is to motor right into the action (which often cuts that action real short!). I shouted a thanks to them to try to positively reinforce good behavior!!

We caught fish after fish until things tapered off sharply right after sunset. With the fish action flagging and the closing time at Schoepf’s BBQ a little more than an hour away, our priorities quickly shifted!

We ended the day with a nice meal in Belton on the new limestone outdoor furniture they’ve put up at Schoepf’s — good food after good fishing enjoyed on good furniture — does it get any better this side of Heaven?


Today’s Conditions:

Start Time: 5:15p

End Time: 7:50p

Starting Air Temp: 78F

Water Surface Temp: 61.4F

Wind: SSE7 the entire trip.

Skies: Fair.

Fishing with International Flair!! 89 Fish, Stillhouse, 18 March 2011

This morning’s trip had an international flair to it!! I welcomed aboard a 24 year old young man from Seoul, South Korea, by the name of Seong Jin Park (he goes by “Jin”). Jin is attending the University of Texas and has relatives in Killeen. Jin was accompanied by Dick C. of Killeen. Dick and his wife, Chun An, have opened their home to Jin on the weekends so he has someone familiar to associate with while he is away from his family and home. Jin had never gone fishing before today, but quickly made up for lost time!!

Jin shows off our biggest fish of the trip, and his first largemouth bass ever.

Once Dick got the hang of “bite detection”, there was no slowing him down; the fish on the left measured 14.50 inches.

Jin is learning English by immersion. His vocabulary is at more than survival level, but many of the terms I use on the boat are technical and/or fishing specific, so I found I need to speak and demonstrate so Jin could appreciate what he needed to do to be successful — we quickly found common ground as evidenced by his results.

We began our day where I left off last night, with some flatlining at Area 116. We quickly boated 3 white bass here on twin Rip Shads and then left when the action died as the skies brightened and the fish left the shallows.

We searched about and spotted some limited but useful gull activity right on top of Area 745. I headed us to the area of interest, ran sonar to confirm the presence of fish, buoyed the fish I found, and then we worked the fish with TNT 180 slabs (3/8 oz. in white) for over an hour, boating exactly 30 fish including white bass of all sizes and one largemouth going 17.5 inches and weighing 2.75 pounds. Eventually these fish lost interest and moved on as the skies continued to brighted, thus pushing the fish out of this 17-18 foot water.

We moved on to Area 100 in 21-26 feet of water and worked hard to pry 10 fish off the bottom here on slabs. The fish just weren’t packed in this area so we left right after the initial strong bite softened.

We spent the remainder of our trip in the vicinity of Areas 103/746. Fish were a bit deeper on this breakline, down at the 32-35 foot level versus the 25-27 foot level they’ve been at the last few times out, but they were there in strength and bit well. We landed exactly 46 fish off this area including white bass of all sizes up to 14.5 inches, and Jin lost a big largemouth that was ghosting the smaller whites looking for a big meal.

Jin is very electronically savvy; Dick reported to me that within minutes of receiving electronic copies of the digital photos I took of our trip, those photos had reached friends and family on the other side of the globe and much excited chatter was made of the young man’s catch.

TALLY = 89 FISH, all caught and released

Today’s Conditions:

Start Time: 7:15a

End Time: 12:30p

Starting Air Temp: 62F

Water Surface Temp: 61.4F

Wind: S9 increasing to S13

Skies: 100% grey overcast at trip’s start, gradually clearing to 20% clouds by trip’s end.

Stillhouse Guide Report – 17 March 2011 (PM) – 42 Fish

This evening I fished with a retired couple from the San Antonio area, The Rowland’s. Both Gary and Linda are U.S. military veterans. They had some other Spring Break travel plans fall through and wanted to spend some time in the outdoors so they gave me a ring and we made a nice evening of it. Both had some fishing experience, mostly from the bank, and the experiences they had fishing from boats was in very different environments (downrigging in the Pacific and fishing from a drift boat in the Northwest), so, we spent a good bit of time at dockside before launching just getting some basic techniques down, such as jigging and smoking with a slab.

Gary and Linda “grip and grin” at their catch of healthy white bass taken on slabs this evening.

High winds were a factor today, with sustained winds over 16 mph and gusts over 20 making boat control a bit of an issue, but we took lemons and made some lemonade.

Our first stop came at Area 546. I saw some so-so sonar readings on bottom near a breakline topping out at 25 feet. We stopped and put our dockside lessons to use and just worked out the kinks here. We managed to boat 4 smallish white bass, but, this was very useful as both now appreciated what a bite felt like, how to adjust the height of their lure, how to maintain a vertical orientation for line control, and more — all fundamental to success.

We moved on after the few fish in this area lost interest in our presentations and again connected with fish in the vicinity of Areas 103 and 549. This breakline adjacent to the channel has really turned on recently and produced consistently. Fish were initially hugging bottom, but, as the evening progressed, rose higher in the water column. I suspect that due to the low flow in the Lampasas that there was actually some mid-depth, open water spawning action occuring here, as several females were dripping eggs and many males were leaking milt. We spent the majority of our 4 hour trip here on these fish, working them over with 3/8 oz. white TNT 180’s, boating a total of 38 from an area perhaps 25 yards in diameter. Once we lost contact with fish, we’d move in the same vicinity closely studying sonar until I reestablished contact with bottom-hugging fish, we then jig for these fish, catch a few, and the process would repeat. This area stop yielding fish around 7:00pm.

We check out a shallow water area to no avail, and then spent the last 25 minutes of the trip or so flatlining with a Wart/Rip Shad combination near Area 116. We actually boated 4 fish, but had several hooked that managed to struggle free despite our attempts to baby them in using the whippy crankbait rods I have dedicated for this trolling duty.

In all we put 42 fish in the boat this evening.

Gary sent me a nice note after the trip letting me know that Linda didn’t stop talking about their experience for a day and a half following our outing, and that he was appreciative of the good referral I gave him to Schoepf’s BBQ over in Belton.

TALLY = 42 FISH, all caught and released

Today’s Conditions:

Start Time: 3:45p

End Time: 8:10p

Starting Air Temp: 79F

Water Surface Temp: 62.4F

Wind: S16-18 at trip’s start with higher gusts decreasing to S12 by trip’s end

Skies: Partly cloudy at 205 coverage.

Happy Birthday, Cody!! 54 Fish, Stillhouse, 17 March 2011

This morning I welcomed aboard Cody and Dylan C. of Nolanville, and Cody’s friend, Michael, also of Nolanville. The boys were treated to a fishing trip for Cody’s 16th birthday by Grandpa Dave D. of Hawaii. This was a reunion of sorts, as all three boys joined me for a Spring Break outing in 2009, as well.

The boys display the 6 largest white bass taken on our outing today; the largest went 14 1/8 inches.

We began the morning with a bit of flatline trolling along the circuit from Area 743 to Area 741, and picked up only 3 white bass with little else in the way of fish or bait showing on sonar.

We headed to troll the circuit from Area 713 to Area 733 and did better, boating 9 fish in as many passes until noting some surface action here (BA: 2 HG). We headed to the area of the disturbance and studied sonar, finding abundant white bass scattered along the bottom here in ~17′. We vertical jigged and smoked these fish, boating 19 in about 40 minutes’ time until they cooled off.

We then headed to troll the Area 114 to 703 to 319 circuit, and picked up two more, but action was slow there.

We made one last move to Area 744 where we smoked and jigged for the remainder of our fish (23 of them to be exact) in about 21′.

This was an ideal trip for kids as we never went for any lengthy spells without catching fish and were able to use several hands-on tactics to boat the fish we did.

Thank you, Grandpa Dave, for a nice Spring Break birthday treat!!


Today’s Conditions:

Start Time: 7:30a

End Time: 11:30a

Starting Air Temp: 60F

Water Surface Temp: 61.2F

Wind: S11-13

Skies: Overcast.

Of Sleeping Dogs and “Oldness”; 64 Fish, Stillhouse, 16 March 2010

This morning’s Spring Break trip was spent in the company of (Grandma) Joyce W. and her grandsons, 11 year old C.J. and 8 year old Nate. This is the third year in a row they’ve spent a part of their Spring Break fishing with me. I was honored to rank right up there on the list with NASA daycamp and the Blue Bell Ice Cream factory tour!

C.J. with one of our two 14+ inch long white bass taken today.

Nate with a white bass he caught all by himself using his favorite method — casting!

As we got going today, I saw some action (BA: 5HG)located in an expanse of water from Area 741 to 742. I headed over to it and looked closely with sonar and saw multiple small schools (15-25 fish) of white bass in and around this area. Some were pushing shad all the way to the surface and the odor of shad being fed upon was strong here. We started off flatlining with Bone Warts and did very well, boating 18 white bass in a little over and hour’s time, including two that exceeded 14″. Once this settled down we continued the search.

We headed to Area 713 and found abundant white bass holding tight to the bottom. As is often the case when first probing a “fresh” school of fish, they got very aggressive to the point of responding to a smoking retrieve. We boated quite a number of fish here via “smoking” and straightforward jigging. The boys also experimented with casting blade baits worked in a lift-drop fashion, thus accessing fish beyond the area of bottom touched with our vertical presentation. At one point Nate reeled in a double that fell for the Hazy Eye Shad rig I’d placed above his bladebait. We departed this area with 55 fish boated.

Nate really enjoyed casting and would have done that the entire time, but, I explained to him that casting only works well when the fish are really active and excited and that when the fish slow down, we have to slow our presentations down, too. I try to make an analogy between the fishes’ brief feeding windows each day and how a household pet gets active and frisky for just short times each day, but otherwise spends its time sleeping or at least laying down and resting.

We wound up our day at Area 743 after my attention was drawn there by some surface activity (BA: 4HG). We checked this 15-18′ area out and found two congregations of fish near bottom here. We trolled over them to gauge their activity level and then jigged for them after taking two on flatlined crankbaits. We put a final 7 fish in the boat by jigging and, with Nate’s attention span beginning to wane, decided to call it a very good day at this point with 64 fish boated for our efforts.

Now, about “oldness”. Somehow we got on the topic of the tragedy of the earthquake in Japan and how so many people had lost their lives in that disaster. Nate volunteered that losing your life to an earthquake, tsunami, or whirlpool was not good. He then announced that he knew the best way to pass away. Well, Joyce and I were now waiting for the other shoe to drop and so I prompted him by asking what that best way was. His one word answer was “Oldness.” I had to think about that!

This was a good trip with good people.

TALLY = 64 FISH, all caught and released

Today’s Conditions:

Start Time: 7:30a

End Time: 11:50a

Starting Air Temp: 62F

Water Surface Temp: 60.8F

Wind: SSE10

Skies: Heavily overcast to the point of occasional light drizzle.