While Dad’s Away, the Kids will Play!! — 41 Fish, Stillhouse Lake, 25 Feb. 2012

This afternoon I welcomed back youth anglers Lauren and Zach V. of Ft. Hood. The kids’ dad, Major Craig V., is serving in Afghanistan right now so, through the Ft. Hood SKIES program, their mom, Charlotte, signed them up to fish with me today.

Although the lion’s share of our catch today consisted of white bass, we had other species mixed in with our catch, as commonly happens in the Spring when the water first begins to warm. Here Zach shows us a nice crappie he boated.

Lauren caught this drum that moved in along the bottom to vacuum up the leftovers after a heavy white bass feed left baitfish parts scattered here and there.

Less than 30 minutes had passed from the end of my morning trip with a wonderful family from Troy, TX, to the start of this trip with Lauren and Zach. I knew we could return to the areas that produced for us this morning, but, they had just “turned off” and it would be later in the afternoon that they’d “turn on” again, so, we still needed to find some fish in the meantime.

I headed for deep water, given the bright but windy conditions we now had. My first stop was at Area 1041. This is in about 40 feet of water. As I scanned slowly with sonar, I saw a tight cluster of fish holding on a little irregularity in the bottom. I buoyed the spot and returned to fish it. I explained carefully to the kids how to work their slabs effectively and immediately Lauren caught a fish, then another, then another before I could even have my hands free long enough to tutor Zach a little. Once Zach got the hang of things, he joined in the party, too, and the fishing stayed solid for about 45 minutes during which time the kids boated 14 fish including 1 drum and 13 white bass (all keeper size and then some). Once this played out we looked over 3 more similar areas to no avail.

I then headed for Area 1042 where we had done well in the morning. By now the wind had reached a peak of about 15 mph, the sun was getting low and the shadows long, and things felt fishy — I don’t know how else to describe that 6th sense. As we moved up on this area, fish in prime feeding posture, just 6-9 inches off bottom were there in great numbers. I got us set up over these fish and we went to work. In came fish after fish for 30 minutes straight — 22 of them to be exact, all right at 11 to 12 inches, and all on white TNT180 slabs in 3/4 oz. By 4:00 pm the kids’ hands hurt from reeling in the fish and using the little hand muscles they don’t normally use, and the cold from the strong wind was beginning to sink in a bit. The fish were still raring to go, but the kids — not so much!! So, as much as I hated to do it, we left those fish still biting to go and search for fish in a more wind-protected area.

We did find a few cooperative fish off the slope at Area 1044 in about 32 feet, and fished them a short while, boating 5 more fish. I kept the kids engaged as we set a group goal of breaking the 40 fish mark, but, soon after that goal was met the attention spans ran out.

I knew their mom needed a break having been a deployment-induced single mom for almost a year now, so, we did some “exploring” on one of the protected shorelines collecting aluminum cans so the kids could warm up a bit as we waited the 25 minutes or so for mom’s return. I should report that in addition to the 41 fish we caught, we also collected a full 5 gallon bucket of crushed aluminum cans!! What a bonus!

The kids did a great job today and Lauren, especially, made laugh out loud a number of times with her quirky sense of humor. I’d embarrass her too much if I included the funniest thing she said, but her #2 statement that, “I fell asleep one time in math class and found inner peace” ranked right up there!! This was a fun trip!

TALLY = 41 FISH, all caught and released, including 1 largemouth, 1 drum, 1 crappie, and 38 white bass.

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Start Time: 1:30p

End Time: 5:30p

Air Temp: 63F at trip’s start.

Water Surface Temp: 55.6F

Wind: Winds were S14.

Skies: Skies were fair.

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