I've been off the water for about a week and a half getting my mom moved from Kentucky down to Texas, but, I watched the Weather Channel each evening and it looks like I didn't miss out on any good fishing conditions with the bluster and cold of late.
I returned to the water today just to get back in touch with things and found the surface temps have cooled into the low 50's. I found very willing fish today in typical cold water behaviors -- congregated and reluctant to move very far. This reluctance to move is a double-edged sword. It allows you to catch a bunch of fish when you can find them, but makes location a bit more difficult. With fishes' tendency to relate to the bottom this time of year, they can be impossible to spot on sonar unless they suspend slighly off bottom. They do this when they're feeding, but feed for rather short periods. So, I find the best approach is to go where you think they should be, work a slab for just a few minutes as you study sonar, and then leave and keep looking if you're not picking up fish within 5-6 minutes.
Crude though it may be, this is my fish sizing "kit" - a tape measure, grease pencil, and marking board. I'm personally studying the size/age distribution of the white bass population in Stillhouse.
The white bass size profile for this trip (above) is very consistent for late 2009.
AM Start Time: 7:15a
AM End Time: 11:30a
PM Start Time: 4:37p
PM End Time: 5:49p
Air Temp: 30F at trip's start; high temp. today of only 41F.
Water Surface Temp: ~52.1F
Wind: Winds were light from the NE at 5-7
Skies: Skies were fair at sunrise, then immediately and quickly clouded up to 100% overcast and bright grey for the entire morning.
I fished only 3 areas in the morning and found fish at all three.
Before, during, and just after the semi-obscured sunrise I fished in the vicinity of Area 556 (BA: 4T). I found fish scattered, tight to bottom, and tight-lipped as the feeding window hadn't really opened yet. I put two white bass in the boat here, and, after failing to observe much of promise on sonar and in the form of natural signs, I moved on.
Stop #2 came in the vicinity of Area 103 (BA: 12T). Nature was waking up at this point. As I idled around I found fish tightly bunched up and on the high spots of several bottom features in this area, and holding just 6" to 18" off bottom, thus making them very easy to spot on sonar. The shad I saw on sonar were also tightly bunched (threatened posture) and were suspended. I dropped a slab, immediately was onto a white bass, saw schoolmates follow this hooked fish up off bottom, knew this was good stuff, and threw a buoy to mark my position. I caught exactly 48 fish here (46 white bass and 2 drum). Not a single fish would respond to a smoking retrieve or an easing retrieve. Every one was caught jigging.
By 9:40a the action here was really tapering off. Typically, I'll search deeper as the morning progresses, knowing full well after that intial hard feed, later morning action is going to pale in comparison. It was no different today. I found action at the area triangulated by Areas 551, 552, and 553 in about 34 feet of water. This was one of those circumstances where I motored in, spotted some bait in the area and just started jigging and the fish materialized from off the bottom. After I had caught a few from right off bottom, a few suspended fish started to drift through. I found I could tempt these with a slow smoking technique and tempt about 1 in 3 seen on sonar. My take here was 27 fish including 19 white bass and 8 drum. By 11:30a the fish had quit.
I headed in for lunch and some honey-do's, then returned to the water around 4:30p. Just as I got on the water I saw some perched terns rise and begin searching for an evening meal, but the did not flock to any particular area indicating a hard feed. I initially checked Area 557, found fish scattered, tight to bottom, and reluctant to hit, picking up only 2 white bass in about 20 minutes.
I finished up at Area 549. There was a modest, low-light feed right at obscured sunset. I put a final 14 fish in the boat here -- all white bass, and all via jigging.
TALLY = 93 FISH, all caught and released