This morning I fished with father and son team Kenny and Aaron R. Kenny serves as the senior pastor at Skyline Baptist Church in Killeen, TX. Aaron is an all-around sportsman and attends Patterson Middle School there.
Here Aaron (L) and Kenny (R) show the best 4 white bass we boated this morning.
Here’s a StructureScan shot of what was happening beneath us. The number of fish increased and decreased over our 75 minute stay here, but never did we go without having at least a few fish showing on sonar.
And here is that same shot on colored sonar with a wide angle transducer, capturing many more targets due to the fact that it covers a wider angle and more area — literally hundreds of fish were within a 40 foot diameter beneath the boat.
I had a really good feeling about this trip since Monday when Kenny called to book it and I clicked on the WunderGround website and saw that this day was the first day of a wind returning to a southerly direction after almost 6 days of coming from the north and east.
Our water is cooling, and the thermocline is slowly deteriorating. Today, it was set up at around 43-44 feet, thus opening up a whole lot more submerged topography to the potential of holding fish versus when it is set up shallower as it is during the heat of the summer.
We spent our first hour patrolling with downriggers deployed with balls down at around 34 feet and steadily picked up white bass of all sizes in the 0-3 year class using tandem rigged Pet Spoons. By 8:30a we had boated 18 fish fishing primarily between Areas 868 and 859.
The way I normally work things is to have the person not hooked up and reeling in a fish complete the task of winding in the downrigger ball to both clear it out of the way of the fish and to get it reset and ready to be rigged and dropped again after the fish is landed. I had to laugh when Aaron, a particularly competitive young man (in a good-natured way), while fighting a fish, called to his dad, “Oh ball boy, can you reel this ball in ?”
As we downrigged, I occasionally opened out circuit up to a wider ellipse to check for the presence of fish in adjacent waters. As we did so, we consistently graphed fish at Area 1134. After picking up fish on Area 1134 in 3 consecutive passes, I e-anchored us over top of this area and we began to work TNT180 slab spoons vertically in an effort to tempt these fish holding from 0 to 3 feet off the bottom in 42 feet of water. That did NOT require much effort at all — these fish were ready to feed! We noted earlier how some of our larger white bass had concave bellies indicating they hadn’t fed much lately (not uncommon following a cold front). They were about to make up for it! Long story short, we sat at this one area for approximately 75 minutes and boated fish after fish after fish, catching and immediately releasing a total of exactly 75 white bass, bringing our tally up to 93 fish by the time they quit. When things got a bit slow, we’d toss Cicada blade baits out away from the boat to draw more curious fish in and then is was game-on once again.
When these fish were done, they were done for good. We spent another 45 minutes searching for active fish and/or bait and found precious little.
We all had in our minds that it’d be neat to break that 100 fish mark, though, so, we pressed on.
Eventually, at Area 1135 we began to mark a small, scattered school of white bass holding about a foot off the bottom in 36 feet of water. We worked the downriggers over them at least 6 times and combed out 3 fish on the outskirts of the school, but the “main body” of fish refused to respond. So, on the next pass, as we came over these fish again, I tossed a marker buoy and then backed off downwind, e-anchored the boat, and we fired cast after cast right over the deep school to see what they’d do. This turned out to be the right move, as we caught fish right away and managed to comb out 9 more fish (all nice white bass) bringing our final total to 105 caught and released.
We decided it wise to end on a strong note after experiencing a slow bite following that white-hot fishing earlier, and so we headed on it and called it a great morning. Yes, even the ball boy hits a home run now and then.
TALLY = 105 fish, all caught and released
Start Time: 7:00a
End Time:12:00 noon
Air Temp: 59F at trip’s start.
Water Surface Temp: 76.6F
Skies: Skies were darkened by low clouds early, clearing to about 30% cloudy by trip’s end on a fair sky.