Today a bit of corporate entertainment was in order. Some of the Texas-based sales force of the very popular (and delicious!) Blue Bell ice cream company came to central Texas for a sales meeting. While golf has been the traditional recreational outlet on “Day 2” of the gathering, those who do not golf were able to choose between fishing and jet skiing. Of the group of ~thirty-two, 7 chose fishing. I teamed up with another local guide to accommodate these folks in two boats. My boat fished white bass on Stillhouse, and the other fished for hybrid striper on Belton.
L to R: Bryan Sansone, Don Scoggins, Ron Dickson, and Charles Weiss — 105 years of Blue Bell experience in one boat!
Joining me on Stillhouse were Charles Weiss (38 years with the company), Don Scoggins (32 years with the company), Ron Dickson (30 years with the company), and Bryan Sansone (5 years with the company). Seeing such longevity with one company says a lot about both the people and the company. Indeed, all of these fellows were very courteous, personable men that you at once felt at ease with. They enjoyed each others’ company, and were a pleasure to have on board — no crude language or behavior as is the case with some “corporate groups” — it was just like fishing with family.
The fishing was just okay today. We had a good start right at (obscured) sunrise, and then about a 30 minute run of activity as the sun finally shone enough to make you squint without sunglasses on (between 9:00 and 9:30 or so), but, the remainder of the trip was tough under very grey, murky conditions. The high pressure and very consistent fishing we’d enjoyed through the day before fell off immediately as the pressure began to fall, skies clouded, humidity increased, and the winds began to shift in advance of a cold front due in hours after the close of the trip.
We primarily downrigged for sparse, suspended fish down around 24-26 feet in deeper waters using 3-armed umbrella rigs equipped with Pet Spoons. On three occasions we stopped and used slabs fished vertically for more heavily schooled fish, but even then we did not see the kind of results I’d seen over the past several days under more stable weather conditions.
When I checked in with the crew fishing Belton, they also found the fishing very tough right up until their last stop of about 4-5 stops, and caught the majority of their 15 fish in the last hour.
It was quite distinctive how the light conditions directly impacted fish behavior. During the brief 30 minutes of thinner cloud cover when it got bright enough to require sunglasses and you could feel the sun’s heat through the clouds, things immediately improved. We saw largemouth bass actively pursuing bait on the surface, bait fleeing from predator fish, terns flying and dipping after small fish, and we saw our catch rate go up both on the downriggers and while using slabs. No sooner did things cloud back over than all of this died just as suddenly and stayed slow right through the end of our trip.
Personally being a fan of Blue Bell ice cream (the Cantaloupe and Cream flavor is my favorite), it was neat to get some insiders’ perspectives on the company and learn of their growth outside of Texas, with production facilities in both Oklahoma and Alabama, in addition to a third facility (apart from where the tours are given) in Brenham, TX.
We landed a total of 24 fish today, including 1 largemouth bass, 1 channel catfish, and 22 white bass. Big fish honors went to Bryan Sansone with a nice 2.75 pound channel cat taken near bottom as he fished a bladebait during one of our two stops to fish for more tightly schooled fish holding near bottom.
A special thanks to Landon Hengst, the Blue Bell manager who coordinated this effort, both for putting the trip together and for realizing not everyone likes golf!!
TALLY = 24 FISH
Start Time: 6:35am
End Time: 11:00am
Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start: 78F
Water Surface Temp: 84.5F
Wind Speed & Direction: SSE10, shifting to SSW9 by trip’s end
Sky Conditions: Heavy grey clouds the entire time, save a 30 minute break from 9:00 to 9:30
AREAS FISHED WITH SUCCESS:
**Area 1260 – typical first-light bite here on downrigged white bass, with a few taken on jigging stop #1
**Area 866 – best action of the trip here, albeit short-lived, in conjunction with brightening skies with white bass taken on downriggers and slabs on jigging stop #2
**Area 1419 – light action on scattered suspended fish on the downriggers, and 1 white taken on jigging stop #3
Owner, Holding the Line Guide Service
254.368.7411 (call or text)