This morning I fished with husband and wife team Ken and Kris K. of Salado, Texas. Ken runs a brick-and-mortar coin shop in Harker Heights and Kris is enjoying retirement from the U.S. Air Force.
Here’s that double-double — four fish caught all at the same time on a pair of downrigged tandem rigs outfitted with doctored Pet Spoons.
To his credit, Ken clearly understood AND stated his goals for this trip — he wanted exposure to multiple techniques effective on Stillhouse and in this summer season so he could better his own chances as he fishes on his own. I say “to his credit”, because often times folks will have goals or expectations but they go unmet because they are never expressed, or are expressed only at or after the conclusion of the trip.
So, as we began our day, even before pushing off from the dock, I showed both Ken and Kris the “Cork Rig” that I use when topwater fish are present, gave them some pointers on casting and working these rigs, and then we set out to try to find some topwater action. None showed today, but just going through the necessary motions of looking and listening gave the couple an idea of what is necessary to be successful when the fish do cooperate.
Next, it was on to the prime summer tactic of downrigging. Nearly 80%+ of my summer success comes on the downriggers or is downrigger related. By “downrigger related” I mean, for example, that by downrigging, I may find a concentration of fish that could be more efficiently caught using a vertical or horizontal presentation due to how densely schooled they are — but, were it not for downrigging in the first place and moving slowly while observing sonar, I would not have found such fish.
The downrigging was definitely “on” today. We boated 23 fish in less than 2 hours including multiple doubles (two fish caught at one time using a tandem rig). At one point the bite got so aggressive that both Ken and Kris hooked up with a double — that’s a double-double!! We caught white bass, largemouth (small schoolies), and several drum all on the ‘riggers, and all just above the thermocline between Areas 039 and 482.
We could have kept right on catching on the downriggers, but, the goal was not to have a high fish count, the goal was to show effective summertime techniques.
So, off we went to hit some shallow-water sunfish habitat. Where weeds, rock and wood come together in shallow water is always a good bet. So it was at Area 1098. We didn’t stay here long — just enough to show how to catch sunfish reliably, which, by the way, serve as an excellent live bait. After boating 15 sunfish we moved on.
Next, we went looking for largemouth with the intention of using live bait on downlines to catch them. We looked over rock, weed, and breaklines, and for all our efforts only drew 3 strikes, none of which resulted in boated fish. Still, going through all of the motions of setting the boat’s position, hooking the baits properly, adjusting the depth of the bait certain ways in certain circumstances, etc., was all made clear. The fish were icing on the cake.
During the time we were hovering over one of the more open-water areas, a fair school of white bass appeared beneath us. Seeing this opportunity, we broke out the spinning rods and worked our baits “smoking style” through the school. As they often are in the hot summer-time water, these white bass were moving too quickly. By the time our baits reached the lower 1/3 of the water column, these white bass had moved far away.
By 11:30 we decided to call it a day with a multitude of techniques, some successful and some not, all laid out for future use.
A note to those of you considering hiring a guide — do as Ken did… be upfront with your guide about what you want to do, then, listen to his/her response. He may know that what you want to do in a given season or for a given species will simply not be productive and can temper your desires with some hard-earned experience and reality. You can then decide if you want to press on, or you can adjust your strategy, or strike some compromise on how to spend your time on the water. It all starts with communicating your expectations!
TALLY = 38 FISH, all caught and released
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Start Time: 6:30a
End Time: 11:35a
Air Temp: 76F at trip’s start.
Water Surface Temp: 82.7F
Wind: Winds SSW6 at sunrise, then slowly building to S13.
Skies: Skies were fair with 10% cloudiness.