This morning I fished with returning guest Kirby L. Kirby’s goal for this trip was to be introduced to hybrid striped bass fishing using live shad
Our late morning action was hot and heavy as a light breeze came up and revived a bite that had died by 9:30. It was all we could do to keep 3-4 rods baited and fishing. Multiple instances of 2-4 hookups at the same time occurred. Here, Kirby holds our largest fish of the trip, a 23″ hybrid weighing 6.00 pounds on a certified scale.
Kirby is a neat fellow. Some years ago he decided he had enough of corporate America, bought some farmland which he now irrigates with water from the Little River, and makes his living as a crop farmer. He’s always had a thing for fishing and recently bought a boat, so, now he’s trying to get smart on how to pursue the various species Texas waters have to offer both in freshwater and in salt. Yesterday, he wrestled with a muddy and stubborn irrigacion bump from sunup til sundown and was ready for a little time to unwind this morning.
In early June of last year Kirby and his wife came out with the goal of being introduced to downrigging. We did well on that trip experiencing some topwater action followed by a solid lesson in downrigger use.
Although hybrid striped bass can be caught most any time of year on live shad, I feel there is no better time than the roughly 6 week window corresponding with the threadfin shad spawn in April and May.
This morning I found ample bait readily caught with a cast net well before sunrise right at Area 1200. This year’s crop of spawning shad is a very healthy crop with excellent length, girth, and color. 4-5″ baits were abundant.
As we got going this morning we ran sonar while idling along in the vicinity of Area 1199 and found exactly what we were looking for — nice arches showing on the colored sonar unit to be suspended up off bottom and grouped together.
I first chummed to keep those fish beneath us and draw in other fish, and then we put out 4 downlines, each baited with large, lively threadfin shad. From ~7:30 to 9:30am this area produced a total of 39 fish including 4 white bass all around 12-13″, 1 short hybrid striped bass, and 34 legal hybrid striped bass (18″ or larger) with the largest fish weighing in at 4.25 pounds. Inexplicably, at about 9:30 the action just stopped — there was no wind shift, no light level change, nothing perceivable, but, the fish definitely got disinterested.
We headed out to search for a feeding population of fish elsewhere. Due to the light fog, seeing for any distance was difficult, so, during the 2 hours spent at Area 1199, I did not see any bird activity, however, as I checked out Area 156, there were ~20 laughing gulls resting on the water in this area. At the time I encountered them, they were pecking insects off the water’s surface, but I felt that fish activity must have drawn them here in the first place. I went into search mode with my sonar and we located a solid school of hybrid striped bass in ~31 feet of water. I got chum down, then our baits down and up came the hybrid after the baits. We found the fishing at 22-24 feet over the 31 foot bottom drew strikes almost as soon as the bait sank to that level and nearly every single time. We caught fish non-stop from 10:00a to 11:05a when Kirby had to pull the plug and leave the fish biting to honor a commitment he’d made today.
During our time on this location we boated 1 more 12″ white bass, 1 more short hybrid, and 22 more legal hybrid. Kirby landed two more 4+ pound hybrid here, as well as our largest fish of the trip, a 23 inch, 6.00 pound hybrid (shown above). We finished up with 63 fish boated this morning.
Given that the goal was to give Kirby a well-rounded exposure to live-shad fishing for hybrid, it was nice to have ample opportunity go through the process of locating, chumming, baiting, hooking, fighting, landing, releasing, rebaiting, etc. quite a number of times so that it’ll all come back when Kirby puts the lessons learned on this trip to use as a fishing guide to his own two kiddos.
TALLY = 63 FISH, all caught and released
Start Time: 7:15a
End Time: 11:15a
Air Temp: 64F at trip’s start.
Water Surface Temp: 66.7F
Wind: Winds were calm at trip’s start, slowly increasing to SSE7-8 and leveling off.
Skies: Skies were grey with very light fog at sunrise.
Holding the Line Guide Service