This past Saturday morning I fished with Mrs. Nancy Bowles and her grandson, Bryce Limbacher, in celebration of his 13th birthday which took place back in August.
Bryce Limbacher and his grandma, Nancy Bowles, celebrated his 13th birthday together on the water this morning, boating exactly 50 fish between the two of them.
Just seconds before snapping this photo, sonar revealed the single largest school of fish we’d encountered all morning. Bryce’s rod went off first, then Nancy’s followed. I went up on the bow to snap a shot of them both hooked up at the same time. Bryce wound up landing a triple, and Nancy landed a double.
Nancy, who spent much of her life up north in Maryland, is no fan of the heat, so, she desired to schedule this trip with her grandson after the heat of the summer had passed. She definitely got her wish, as this morning was one of the cooler mornings we’ve had thus far this autumn, with a low of 64F and a stiff NNE breeze making it feel a bit cooler than that. Bryce is a pretty thin kid – a cross-country runner and tuba player – with low body fat and so he stayed chilly until that sun got up and burning real good, and, of course a steady feed of double-stuffed Oreos helped keep the calorie count high to ward off hypothermia. Nancy is a pretty well-traveled angler whose done everything from chase stripers on Buchanan, to sportfishing in the Atlantic, to flyfishing out West. Next week she and a friend head to the Florida keys to chase redfish, snook, and more in the still-warm waters there.
The seasons are definitely beginning to change, and signs of this change have been apparent this past week. The several mild cold fronts that have swept down have brought the season’s first migratory birds. Today alone we observed osprey, cormorants, teal, coots, pelicans, and monarch butterflies, all riding south on the north winds. The fishery is beginning to change, too. The morning topwater action has all but discontinued, and the evening bite has softened considerably. Turnover will occur soon, scrambling things for a bit, then ushering in some great deepwater vertical fishing.
This morning we had to work for all of the fish we caught, putting together a catch of 41 white bass which came off of 3 distinct areas over the first 3.5 hours of our time on the water. The first bite was a low-light bite in the shallowest water we’d find white bass in this morning — between 20-25′. Next we moved into the 30-40′ range and found weak action at the first area we tried, and moderate action at the second deepwater area we tried. Despite seeing 3 schools of bottom-oriented white bass tightly congregated, we could not convince them to perk up and chase. We had 4 hooked fish from such scenarios, but all pulled off the hook before being landed. As I observed sonar as 3 of these 4 fish were being reeled in, I noted that few or no schoolmates were chasing these hooked fish — a sign of disinterest. All of the white bass we landed today came on Pet Spoons fished on a 3-armed umbrella rig.
Bryce really enjoyed the downrigging tactic, as he had envisioned simply sitting and watching a bobber with bait suspended below it before meeting me this morning, but found the downrigging much more engaging, as it involved rigging, routine depth adjustments, constant monitoring for strikes, and, most importantly, it worked! Even so, I did want to expose him to the effectiveness of fishing with a slipfloat and live bait. We set aside the last 30 minutes of the trip to focus on this method. For this panfishing, we headed up into shallow cover, where rocks and wood meet, and went to work. Bryce got the hang of things quickly once he understood how to set the hook once the float disappeared. He was having so much fun working over the bluegill that Nan decided to join in and catch a few of her own. The pair put 8 sunfish and one smallmouth bass in the boat, putting our tally at exactly 50 fish.
With the double-stuffed Oreos completely burned off by Bryce’s high metabolism by this time, we agreed it was a good time to call it a good morning and head up to a Corps of Engineers picnic table for a lunch spread that was waiting back in Nan’s car.
TALLY = 50 FISH, all caught and released
Start Time: 7:00am
End Time: 11:15am
Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start: 64F
Water Surface Temp: 79F
Wind Speed & Direction: NNE12
Sky Conditions: Fair and cloudless
Other: GT= 30
AREAS FISHED WITH SUCCESS:
**Area 1069/302/147 downrigging for low-light bite up shallow
**Area 1613 saw 3 large schools to smoke for, but none caught; 2 fish on ‘riggers
**Area 1614 and vicinity; moderate action on downriggers
**Area 492 panfish
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