December fishing on open water

May 1, 2020
Senior Connections
By Dale Kovar

As we endure through the COVID-19 pandemic, as of this writing, the fishing season appears to be able to go forward. In recognition of the fishing opener coming May 9, here’s a look at my most recent fishing outing in December.

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First of all, our son Rhett is currently stationed in Iraq with the Minnesota Army National Guard. Before his deployment, he underwent several weeks of training at bases in Texas and Oklahoma, and that’s where our story begins.

Our last chance to visit before the deployment was his four-day pass right after Thanksgiving weekend. An avid fisherman, both summer and winter, Rhett found a guide service online and suggested a fishing outing as something we could do while there.

The guide was Bob Maindelle of Holding the Line Guide Service. The outing proved to be the highlight of our weekend.

In Texas, you can open water fish year around. The approach changes seasonally, based on what is effective, but you still go.

Choices were a four-hour outing starting at sunrise, or four hours leading up to sunset. Those are the times that fish actually bite. A morning outing fit our plans.

Bob sent a very detailed list of what to wear, how to prepare, and even an iphone map point of where to meet.

Everything else was provided. Show up and hop aboard.

It was 40 degrees, but dressed properly, still comfortable. After a run-through of basic safety measures, and even a short prayer, we were off.

Where would we fish?

The starting point was to follow the birds. Wherever seagulls are gathered and diving into the water is the target area. This means there are game fish at the bottom that are driving their prey to the surface. The injured shad are then easy pickings for the seagulls. So follow the birds.

A simple but brilliant, and effective, plan. Compared to what technology can do, understanding nature is better yet.

We stopped in the middle of the seagull activity, and started catching fish immediately. We were fishing for white bass and hybrid bass, with an occasional drum. Some of them were quite small but the activity pace was plenty to keep our interest.

For you hard-core fishermen, we used a stinger-hook equipped 3/8 oz. Hazy Eye Slab in white color. Our technique was dropping the line to the bottom and then a slow, steady lift. As an alternative, if sonar showed the fish were higher in the water, we switched to a slow reeling process which allowed covering just a little more area with the bait. This simple change in method resulted in instant success.

A couple times, someone even caught two fish at once – one on the treble hook and one on the stinger.

When things slowed down, we followed the birds to another location on the lake. Later in the morning, after the birds had their fill, we were back to being reliant on technology, and Bob found us one more spot to keep us busy.

By the time our trip was over, our party had brought in 223 fish, nearly one a minute for the entire time.

No, we weren’t over the limit – this was strictly catch-and-release. Besides, we really didn’t have any facilities to clean or cook fish anyway. Turns out we even made the honors list as the third highest catch out of Bob’s 179 guided trips for the year.

Besides the fishing success, Bob attends to every detail including photos and even a blog summary of the outing.

If you’re really interested, go to www.holdingthelineguideservice.com, click on Fishing Reports, and find your way back to Dec. 2, 2019.

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