Took a Little Coaxing Today — 25 Fish, 05 Oct. 2012, Stillhouse Fishing Guide Report

This morning I fished with father and son David and Sean F. of Belton. David is a heart specialist (an electrophysiologist, to be exact) on the Scott & White team here in Central Texas, and Sean is working his way through his junior year in college in North Carolina.

Sean (L) and David (R) with the best of the bunch from today’s outing, all taping 13-14″. The fish were tight-lipped today on an easterly wind.

Bottom line: we had to work for every one of the 25 fish we caught today.

Despite a great weather forecast (mild SW winds and partly cloudy skies in advance of an approaching cold front), we actually experienced strong SE winds and a murky, persistent low cloud cover. When winds go east of southeast, things always get tough, and that’s what we faced today.

We got out on the fishing grounds and saw widely scattered bottom-hugging fish most of the morning.

We put our first 90 minutes into downrigging in order to catch fish (obviously!), but also in hopes of coming across a large concentration of active fish which we could hover over top of and jig for. In these first 90 minutes in the vicinity of Area 1131-1112 we never experienced any consistency in fish location. We boated a total of 12 fish including a few doubles, about a third of which were <1 year old fish and therefore smallish, but had to go far and wide to do it.

We searched out 3 other locations before coming upon a solid concentration of fish along the 35-37 foot contour line extending from Area 070 to Area 878. Although there were definitely fish here, they were definitely not turned on. Most were holding “belly to the bottom”. We went with a jigging approach using TNT180 3/4 oz. slabs and, although we did catch fish in two distinct location along this contour (6 at the first location and 7 at the next) the fish never really turned on for us.

Typically, when the fish are in a positive feeding mode, the first fish from the school is the toughest to catch. Once it is hooked and fought to the surface, its struggling, flashing, defecating and regurgitating all serve to whip the other schoolmates into a frenzy that can be kept going for quite some time if you play it right. Such fish will also typically suspend by a foot to as much as 4-6 feet off bottom and be alert and on patrol. These fish we found today never did turn on like this. When we did hook one, I’d observe 3-4 other fish lolly-gag half-heartedly upwards in the water column after the hooked schoolmate only to drift right back to bottom to sulk again. One silver lining to all this was the excellent quality of these fish we’d found here. As the photos show, these fish were all in the 13-14″ range and we’re in great condition. Their bellies were not bulging from recently gorging on baitfish, but they were plump and convex.

And so it was, we certainly didn’t strike out this morning, nor did we just knock ’em dead today. But, as my wife often reminds me, there is more to a fishing trip than a “head count” at the end. Sean wanted to spend some outdoor time with David on his short trip home and we accomplished that thanks to some flexibility on David’s part. We enjoyed the conversation along the way, especially (for me) concerning some things directly from a physician for me to consider with a double-shoulder surgery slated for sometime in the New Year. By 11:15 we wrapped up and parted ways.

TALLY = 25 fish, all caught and released

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Start Time: 7:00a

End Time:11:00a

Air Temp: 69F at trip’s start.

Water Surface Temp: 76.8F

Wind: SSE11-16.

Skies: Skies were murky due to low clouds for the entire trip with only glimpses of sun amidst the heavy cloud cover.

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