No Longer Dreaming of a “White” Christmas, 47 Fish, Stillhouse, 24 Dec. 2013

This morning I welcomed aboard Adrian, David, and Glenn.  Adrian is local and had fished with me once before last winter.  David is in the Air Force serving his first enlistment at Travis Air Force Base in California, and Glenn, from Palm Springs, CA, was here visiting for the holidays.

From L to R: Glenn, Adrian, and David with a sampling of their released catch of 47.  The fish have definitely been impacted by the extended cold and unstable weather.  Low and slow was the name of the game today with all of our fish fooled by meticulous vertical jigging.

Since my last trip with clients on the 13th of Dec., we’ve had some very rough, unstable weather, forcing postponement of two trips, and we’ve had a significant decrease in the water surface temperatures.  I got out for two short “scouting” trips during this 11 day time span and both proved the fishing to be pretty tough.

Despite 2 consecutive days  with overnight lows in the high 20’s, I felt pretty good about our chances today due to the stability of the weather.  Once the water temperatures hit the low 50’s or high 40’s, the cold fronts no longer seem to spur the strong feeding pre-frontal that we see in late October into late November/early December, and we’re at the point of the season now.

I expected a short, early morning bite at a minimum today, but was pleasantly surprised to find fish willing to cooperate from sunrise through about 11:15a.

Our search for fish was aided by bird action as gulls and terns dipped down to feed on the shad being forced near the surface by white bass, however, there is a whole lot more misleading bird action now than there is helpful bird action, as both loons and cormorants are now here in great numbers and the gulls and terns are working over them to a much greater extent than they are working over top of fish.

Our approach today was slow, methodical and 100% vertical.  We worked to find fish, pinpointed them with sonar, held over top of them, and worked 3/4 oz. white TNT180 slabs near them and were sure to include short “deadstick” pauses in our presentation.

Although I tried experimenting a number of times with easing, smoking, and lift-dropping, the fish were just not willing to move that far or fast after the baits to yield success on these approaches.  Of the 47 fish caught, only 2 responded to a slow smoking retrieve, and that was at the peak of the bite.

I also noted that the fish were quite deep.  We did not catch any fish shallower than 31 feet, with some coming from as much as 52 feet of water.

For our efforts today we boated 47 fish including 1 largemouth bass, 1 crappie, 4 freshwater drum, and 41 white bass, all of which were legal size, with some going as much as 13 1/4″.

If the boys were dreaming of a white (bass) Christmas, that dream came true this Christmas Eve!

If you are reading this and have wanted to learn to fish vertically aided by sonar, this is the absolute best time of year to get out and do it.  There is really no substitute for experience in this technique.   Unless it is raining and blowing hard from the north at the same time, I’ll be fishing!!

TALLY = 47 FISH, all caught and released



Start Time: 7:30a
End Time: 11:45a
Air Temp: 28F at trip’s start.
Water Surface Temp: 51F 
Wind: Winds were calm at sunrise, tapering up to SSE7 by trip’s end.
Skies: Cloudless, fair skies.
Other Notes: GT=10

Areas Fished with success:
**  Most consistent action came in Area 1312/1173/1314/1308 boundaries
**  Caught a few at Area 340/590
**  Caught a few at Area 1315/069

Bob Maindelle
Holding the Line Guide Service

Salado, Texas

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