Sound the Bugle(s) — The Fish are Biting!! — 112 Fish, Stillhouse Hollow, 13 April 2013

This morning I fished with Rob L. of Georgetown, and three 8th grade boys including Rob’s son, Andrew, and Andrew’s two friends, Caleb and Chase.

From L to R: Andrew, Chase, Caleb, and Rob with our best 4 fish culled from the 112 we boated this morning. The majority of our catch came on bladebaits in the first two hours following sunrise.

We enjoyed very good fishing conditions today including winds from the S. early on, a gentle but consistent breeze and nice, light grey cloud cover. Additionally, all four of my guests had substantial previous fishing experience, so, we were able to take full advantage of all of the action we found this morning. Most of the boys’ prior experience came with largemouth bass fishing, but, many of the mechanics carried over well into the techniques we used today including flatline trolling, downrigging, horizontal casting with bladebaits, and vertical jigging with slabs.

As we began our day, we headed to Area 116 just prior to sunrise and ran a “circuit” here flatline trolling crankbaits in 12-16 feet of water. We picked up 6 fish, including 5 white bass, 4 of which went 12+ inches, and 1 largemouth before some distant, helpful bird activity led us to even better action.

Spread over ~1/8 mile of open water (between Areas 101 and 1194) we found gulls, ospreys, and blue herons working over open water and regularly taking both white bass and/or the baitfish the white bass were preying upon. The white bass were working in small schools of 10-15 fish and were spread from top to bottom, with the heaviest concentration on bottom and with a substantial number of fish holding ~8-10 feet beneath the surface. I assessed our situation and felt that going with horizontally worked bladebaits would offer our best shot at these fish, so, we got all rods slinging bladebaits worked in either a lift-drop fashion on bottom, or with an 8-count countdown from the surface on a straight retrieve and we did very well for the next ~2.5 hours, so long as our conditions remained consistent. Over this span of time we boated 71 white bass, 2 drum, and 1 largemouth bass. These fish came from the 1, 2, and 3 year class, with the majority in the 2 year class.

Around 10am, the action began to get a bit soft as the wind slowly shifted from S to SSE and as the skies brightened. We quickly transitioned from casting to downrigging in order to cover a lot of water quickly and take advantage of the few remaining active fish in this same area. We put 6 more fish in the boat, including a double, before this action died for good. Our tally now stood at 86 fish. I noted that the boys seemed really excited about downrigging, despite the fact that it is a less “hands on” approach than other methods we’d employed. I also noted that, during our stint of downrigging, the boys dug into a 1 pound bag of “Bugle” snacks (that’s 1 pound bag EACH, not a single 1 pound bag shared by the group). I then made the correlation that the most popular tactic of downrigging was popular because it allowed the boys to fish AND eat at the same time!!

Next, it was out to deepwater to hunt for more concentrated fish where the light was more dim. We searched a number of areas without success before finding a nice concentration of fish at Area 1197. These fish were holding tight to a minor breakline in about 37 feet of water. These fish responded well to a vertical jigging presentation using 3/4 oz. TNT 180 slabs in white color. We added 17 white bass and 1 largemouth to our count at this location in just 15 minutes or so, taking our tally up to 104 fish, and giving the boys their first taste of deep water vertical jigging success.

We ended our day at just to the SE of Area 1017, in about 32 feet of water, just off the main river channel. We found a small school of white bass in this location and worked them over thoroughly, pulling another 8 fish in before things shut down and we decided to call it a great day there and then. We closed out the trip taking some photos and the boys then proceeded to break out a picnic lunch (contained in a box which was easily a 30 inch cube!) to be eaten at lakeside. Rob, I don’t want to know what you and Mrs. L. pay for groceries each month!! Just glad you had enough left over for a fishing trip!!

TALLY = 112 FISH, all caught and released

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Start Time: 6:45a

End Time: 12:00noon

Air Temp: 56F at trip’s start.

Water Surface Temp: 62-63F

Wind: Winds were S to SSE7-12 for the entire trip.

Skies: Skies were light grey and 100% cloudy until 9:30am, then slowly cleared towards trip’s end.