For his third consecutive birthday, Garrett G. of the Austin area, accompanied by his dad, Thom, and his younger brother, Carson, once again joined me for a big birthday fishing excursion.
Garrett with our first and largest white bass of the trip, a nice 14 5/8 inch fish taken on a flatlined Reef Runner Rip Shad.
Carson was our multi-species expert today landing sunfish, largemouth, crappie and white bass. That’s his dad, Thom, getting his thumbs slimy.
Special guest John M. of Florence and his dad, Jim, helped keep the action going with a good “smoking technique” once we got over deep white bass.”
This year, Garrett (7 years old) invited his buddy from school, John M. (also 7 years old), and John’s dad, Jim, to come along. Garrett and Carson arrived a bit earlier than John, so, we dabbled around for sunfish in the shallows using maggots and slipbobbers. The boys landed 3 small bluegill which I placed in the livewell for entertainment purposes in case we experienced a lull in the action.
Once our party was assembled, we headed out to look for a repeat of yesterday’s topwater action, but, we either got there too late, or it never occurred, but, no fish were to be seen in the overcast, choppy conditions this morning.
We gave downrigging a try, but only found suspended bait and not much in the way of suspended gamefish, so, with the conditions still fairly dark and a steady wind, we headed shallow and flatline trolled Rip Shads off of Area 116 and Area 999. Area 116 produced 1 largemouth and 2 white bass, including our largest of the trip, a 14 5/8 inch fish. Area 999 produced 1 white bass, 1 crappie, and 1 largemouth. We had a number of fish come unbuttoned before we landed them, as well.
By around 9:30, the skies were getting a bit brighter (to the threshold of marginal) and the wind was right. The boys were a bit antsy and I really wanted to get them on a deepwater bite so they could constantly have their hands and attention occupied.
We looked at a number of areas with sonar and finally found a “fishable” population of fish at Area 033/768. I got set up over the fish, gave the boys clear instructions on the “smoking” technique they needed to use and we gave things a try here. The “window” of a good feed was just barely beginning to open here, and we enjoyed limited success, putting 9 white bass in the boat right away, but they soon settled right down to the point where only technical jigging (beyond the boys’ ability) would have worked. We moved on.
Next, we hit Area 450. The “window” was now opening wider as the skies grew markedly brighter in a short span of time and as the wind’s velocity began to suddenly increase. We set up over these fish and, using a smoking tactic, boated 24 white bass. The situation I saw on sonar was not a “carpeted bottom” where fish were thick in all directions, so, as soon as the bite here slowed, we stayed local and looked elsewhere in this immediate vicinity for additional fish.
We found fish at Area 757/761, and stayed on these fish for the duration of the trip. We boated a total of 69 fish here including 65 white bass in the 2, 3, and 4 year old class, as well as 2 short largemouth bass and 2 freshwater drum. All around the same time as the clock ticked towards noon, the fish action began to wane, the boys’ attentions span began to dwindle, and pressing plans for a 1:30 baseball game in Austin began to call. So, we called it a very good trip right there and headed back to the dock.
Thom and I looked knowingly at one another at the successful completion of the trip and agreed that an afternoon nap was in order for both of us!! The key to fishing with very young kids is keeping them constantly engaged. My options right now are a bit limited due to a lack of sunfish in the shallows just yet, so, we changed up techniques, moved regularly, had snacks, answered questions, looked at the fish in the livewell (approximately 14,083 times!) and did the best we could with the conditions we had. Thom and Jim noted that I keep a “counter” on my beltloop for keeping an accurate tally of our fish. They jokingly mentioned that I need to wear a second version for counting the boys’ laps around the center console as they explored their new, floating environment!
TALLY = 112 FISH, all caught and released
Start Time: 7:10a
End Time: 12:00 noon
Air Temp: 73F at trip’s start.
Water Surface Temp: ~72.8F
Wind: Winds were S10-12 until around 10:30 when the ramped up suddenly to S16.
Skies: Skies were completely overcast and murky until the time of the wind increase when the murkiness cleared and gave way to much brighter, hazy conditions.