Sunday, June 26, 2005

Fishing at Paniolo Ranch June 24th - 26th

TCBCJune 24th was my 10th wedding anniversary, so Kelly and I took the day off from work and headed off to Paniolo Ranch for a weekend of relaxation and a little fishing. I'll talk about the ranch first and then the fishing.

The Ranch

Great little place out in the Texas hill country about 15 miles from Boerne. It's a beautiful 100 acre ranch including a private lake that's stocked with spotted bass. The accommodations were nicer than any hotel I've stayed in my personal and business travels. The onsite spa treatments make the experience something you'll never forget soon. I can't say enough about how great this place was really. Kelly and I had a great time despite a few minor issues, but I would recommend it to anyone wanting to spoil themselves to a weekend of pampering.

The Fishing

TCBC The fishing at the private lake on the ranch is what I think is a fly fisherman's dream. There is plenty of room for casting from the shore, the water is very clear, the bottom has a little grass that holds a healthy fish population. Kelly and I caught some of the largest Redear and Longear sun fish I've ever seen. We caught the sun fish on 1/2 oz chartreuse rat-l-traps and Lucky Craft Sammy's. We also quickly discovered this lake is stocked with spotted bass. In my opinion, it's a bit on the over stocked side because in the three days of fishing we caught somewhere around 30 bass in a total of four hours worth of fishing and none of them were over a pound and half. While walking the banks, I didn't see any large bass either. Not to take away from the fact they were on the small side, those little spotted bass fought like mad once you had them on the hook. Some jumped several times or fought hard enough to pull out the hook. Kelly was frustrated after loosing several fish during the retrieve and she accused me of having dull hooks on the lure. She didn't realize the bass were just fighting hard enough to pull the hooks out. We caught the majority of the bass on the Sammy in shad and a 1/4 oz Mann's Little George in chrome.

Trip in Review:

We had a great time, thoroughly enjoyed our massages, the food was great, and accommodations were nice. The added bonus to the whole trip was that we enjoyed a few hours of great bass fishing together resulting in around 30 bass and a few very large sun fish. If you're planning on taking a trip, I would recommend brining along fly tackle or light spinning rod for a great fishing experience while you are there. Bring pliers or some type of hook retriever, because it’s difficult to get treble hooks out of the mouth of those sun fish. The hook barely fits in their mouth to begin with so getting it back out is tricky.

Kelly with one of those little fighters. This wasn't the largest bass, just happened to be the only picture I took when we were fishing.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

June Texas Classic Bass Club tournament on Stillhouse Hollow

TCBCI fished the Texas Classic Bass Club June tournament on Stillhouse Hollow . Official results are posted here - June 12, 2005 Results - Stillhouse Hollow Reservoir.

For the first time this year I'm at a loss for a way to describe what happened on the lake Saturday. Let's see, I paired up with Brian Davey who is new to the club and never fished on Stillhouse. Brian has only lived in Austin for four years and is just getting a feel for the lakes in the area, but from the day I spent on the water with him, I'm sure he'll be a solid fisherman with a little more experience on the lakes. Let's just say I got schooled by Brain on Stillhouse about the finer points of Carolina rigging for bass in clear water during the summer heat. I'm jumping the gun now, hang on.

This is how the day went, we met up at Dell at 4:30 AM and exchanged greetings. I put my stuff in Brian's boat and we were off to the lake. We drove all the way to the lake talking about fishing and bass tournaments and never noticed that somewhere along the way one of the tires on the boat trailer blew out and we were dragging a bare rim down the highway. We didn't know we had smoked a tire until we were backing down the boat launch at Union Grove Park. Nothing we could do at that point other than scratch our heads and wonder what happened, so we launched and were out behind the island on the grass at 6:00 AM. That was a sign for how the day would go. The wind was blowing about 5 mph and there was a lot of cloud cover. In my book that's perfect fishing conditions for Stillhouse. I told Brian the night before that we would do well throwing spinner baits and chartreuse rat-l-traps. I started off with a white spinner bait and Brain threw the rat-l-trap. I picked up our first fish on the spinner bait about 20 minutes into the tournament that was a solid 2+ lbs. Brain then caught two more keepers on the rat-l-trap, both were just over 14 inches. I put down the spinner bait and started using a trap as well. We "trapped" the lake most of the morning and nada.

It is lunch time now and the wind has picked up to around 20 mph. We switched to soft plastics after loosing confidence in the trap bite. Brian went with a c-rig, 3 foot leader using 14 lb line, with a 4 inch watermelon ring worm. He then proceeded to catch several dinks and a few more 14 inch fish to finish out our limit. We were wind drifting in 8 to 15 feet of water and catching bass over the top of the grass, well Brian was anyway. I went with a weighted fluke in watermelon, and missed one fish, but nothing else bit it. I also tried a few different colored senkos with no luck. Guess I should mention that while we were wind drifting, the wind was blowing up to 30 mph or something around there at times because there were white caps out behind the island. We boated a few more fish over the day, but nothing that would help our cause. Some of them were 14 inches, we caught more than just one limit of keepers they were just small.

After the tournament I found out I made a critical mistake when I stopped using the spinner bait I caught the first keeper with. The tournament winners were using the same spinner bait I was throwing they told me. I'd showed the spinner bait to Mike Amescua when we got 2nd place last time the club fished Stillhouse. I also used it to win my I-Match tournament on Stillhouse this year. Mike used his tournament winnings to buy a few of his own and used them all morning to catch several 3+ lb fish putting them well above the pack in 1st place. I could kick myself for not sticking with that bait. I can tell you that the spinner baits I'm using on Stillhouse are available at Academy and Sportsmans Warehouse, but most people wouldn't buy one if they were shopping for a spinner bait. I'll give you some hints that'll produce fish, but not to the same degree, white or chartreuse, 3/8 or 1/2 oz, with willow leaf blades.

Day in Review:

The wind blew from 5 mph to 30 mph over the day making it difficult to fish the open water. People who tried to fish the creeks and hide from the wind didn't catch any fish because the water is 80+ degrees and the O2 levels are to low for bass to hold in that water. Needless to say they would have been better off sitting on the boat ramp. We caught about 7 or 8 keepers over the day, probably 15 fish total. They were caught on spinner baits, rat-l-traps, & c-rig 4 inch worms. We ended the day with 5 fish for 7.7 lbs putting us in 7th place out of 12 teams.