Today, Thursday, 13 Dec., was my first day back on Stillhouse following the hard cold front that pushed through Sunday night into Monday. I focused on scouting current fish locations and on collecting sonar screenshots for an upcoming presentation at the Cabela’s store in Buda.
The two distinct “peaks” of fish showing in the center of the screen were fish that raised up off bottom to chase fish that I’d hooked and was reeling toward the surface. If you look above the “e” in Range (Less) and at about the 23 foot mark, you’ll see a lone fish arch up there by itself. That’s my hooked fish.
If you look just above the letters “R” and “e” in the word “Range”, you’ll see a dark blue line traced from about 20 feet downward to about 42 feet at about a 30 degree angle. That is my 3/4 oz. slab. You can also see that the line stops at about 42 feet. That’s where a fish swam up off bottom to strike the slab. I hooked this fish and reeled it to the surface, as shown by the blue, red and yellow line that slopes upwards and fades into the surface clutter, starting at the “e” in Range and ending above the “o” in “Stop”. I then released that fish. You can see the trace of the fish swimming in a beeline toward the bottom starting at ~7 feet deep above the “S” in Split, and tailing out at 38 feet deep above the “u” in Source. You can also see about 9 other fish followed this hooked fish upwards out of curiosity.
Although the bottom is not well defined because I was stopped over top of a sloped bottom, you can clearly see fish on bottom in 63 feet of water. Until today’s trip, the deepest I’d ever consistently caught fish on Stillhouse was 55 feet, but, this is an unusual year with water much warmer than usual given the date.
As you can see, there is a massive school of fish here — 20 feet thick with hundreds of white bass — and extending for yards in all directions around the boat. I refer to these as winter “mega-schools” which begin to form now and stay formed until at least late February.
Here’s a shot off of my Lowrance Structure Scan in downlooking mode showing a school of white bass clearly relating to the downwind side of a deep rocky hump.
Despite the cold days and nights, we only lost about 3 degrees on the surface, dropping from ~63F to ~60F.
Although I looked over many areas today those areas holding the fish all had two things in common: they were in deep water and they were adjacent to the river channel.
I found fish at three areas today: Area 947, 1005, and 946, in that order. As is typical as we transition into the winter these fish were in very large schools with literally hundreds of fish per school. Because my object was to find fish for upcoming guided trips and not catch a bunch of fish, I stayed on each area only until I boated 15 fish and then moved on to find more fish.
Each of the three productive areas I located fish on today fished in the same manner. First I observed the fish were in an active, feeding posture by observing sonar. Next, I got a slab down into the school and used the smoking technique to see how active the fish were. In each case, the fish were extremely aggressive, so I continued using the smoking technique which served to keep the fish agitated and striking.
Long story short, I put an easy 45 fish in the boat in under 2 1/2 hours’ time.
TALLY = 45 Fish, all caught and released
Start Time: 2:30p
End Time: 5:00p
Air Temp: 65F at trip’s start.
Water Surface Temp: 60.3F
Skies: Fair and cloudless until 3:30, then a thick bank of grey clouds moved in from the SW, dropping the temperature and light level.