This morning I fished Steve "Baboo" N., his adult son, Andrew, and Andrew's not-quite-five year old daughter, Evelyn. Andrew and his family are visiting his parents in Temple from the Chicago area.
Andrew landed our big fish today, a 2 7/8 pound largemouth that nailed his TNT 180 slab as we worked in and around a big school of white bass.
Steve shows one of the FIVE pairs of doubles we hooked today. This was the only pair of largemouth -- the rest were white bass. The second bass hit well after the first one was already hooked and had already jumped out of the water once. I was VERY concerned about this trip. We had nearly slack winds called for (for a fourth day straight) and a young child on board. This can be an express ticket to boredom and a bad trip for all concerned, but, we got a reprieve. I had already postponed this trip from last Friday due to poor conditions, but, Andrew was due to fly back tomorrow, so, it was now or never.
Our first 75 minutes passed without a single hit and nothing much on sonar but "relaxed" shad holding down around 25-27 feet, giving a "blanket-like" signature versus the classic "bait ball" signature of threatened fish.
Then it happened ... as we moved very intentionally along between Areas 1101 and 1102, keeping our downriggers set at 24 feet, we got our first strike and landed a solo largemouth on one of the two doctored Pet Spoons on one of our two tandem rigs. Another pass, another fish; this time a white bass. Another pass, two fish -- this time a double (our first of FIVE doubles today) as Steve and Evelyn worked together to haul in a 1.75 and a 2.06 pound largemouth. And so it went until we'd boated 11 fish and the fun began to wear off as the sun bore down on Miss Evelyn.
To cater to her shorter attention span, we changed things up and went after sunfish in the shallows. We hit two areas (Area 231, then Area 1098) and, using maggots under a slip float, boated a total of 23 sunfish including bluegill and green sunfish. After Evelyn's interest in that endeavor waned she turned her attention on the livewell full of sunfish we'd just caught and, with the help of some snack and cooling beverages, gave dad and grand-dad the okay to catch some fish on their own.
For whatever reason, Evelyn had in her mind to use her foot as a gauge for the "bigness" of a fish. For example, if a fish were longer than her foot (which was about 6 inches long, shoe and all), than she considered it "big". Likewise, if a fish were smaller than her foot, she considered it "small". That just kind of tickled me -- a "kiddie-cubit" of sorts, just for fishing applications!!
Anyways, we headed back to the several areas where we'd found bait holding this morning to see if the gamefish had become (or remained) turned on in the light and variable breeze conditions.
We checked Area 039/041 -- no dice. We check Area 1101 -- nada. We headed to Area 1102 and bingo!! Between 1102 and Area 042, we picked up 5 fish on the downriggers, including 2 pairs of doubles and then we happened over a very large school of white bass hanging tight to a 25-32 foot breakline, and just up off bottom. We got our "smoking rods" out and, armed with TNT180 3/4oz. slabs, began working these fish over. This is very much a "make hay while the sun shines" affair because these very aggressive fish are very prone to moving away in pursuit of shad. We broke and regained contact with these fish 3 different times, and each time Steve and Andrew went to town at times catching the fish faster then I could get them unhooked. I got an occasional line in the water and handed my hooked fish off to Evelyn.
By the time this 35 minute long frenzy was over we'd boated another 33 fish using this technique. The sun was now at least as hot as Hades and Miss Evelyn had gone as long as she could (which was a good hour more than any of us though she would) and we called it a day right there and then.
In all we boated 23 sunfish, 1 drum, and 48 gamefish including 6 largemouth bass and 42 white bass. Not a single white bass went less than 12 inches today.
TALLY = 72 FISH, all caught and released
Start Time: 6:30a
End Time: 11:15a
Air Temp: 76F at trip's start.
Water Surface Temp: 84.3F
Wind: Calm until ~7:45, then light and variable.
Skies: Skies were clear and bright.