Fished a long exploratory trip today hopeful that the rapidly changing conditions brought about by the Lampasas River’s input of flood water hasn’t put the fish off too bad. Here’s how things shaped up today:
A SHOT OF THE TINY SHAD FRY THAT THE PICKY WHITE BASS WERE FEEDING ON THIS MORNING – 5 ARE ARRANGED VERTICALLY BELOW THE HEAD OF THE KEY
Start Time: 6:30a
End Time: 3:30p
Air Temp: 68F at trip’s start with occasional light drizzle.
Water Surface Temp: ~68-69F
Wind: Winds were ESE at ~10 at (obscured) sunrise, slowly increasing to ~17 and steady, and slowly turning into the SSW.
Skies: Skies were entirely clouded grey the entire trip — darker in the AM and brightening in the PM.
Lake Elevation: The lake rose 0.12 feet today, from 620.22 to 620.34 ft. ASL
I launched this morning and spent a lot of time very slowly motored my way downlake just very closely watching the surface for schools of shad and/or white bass lightly feeding on topwater. In the vicinity of Area 159 I noted abundant carp activity. These fish were near the surface and were rolling and surfacing regularly. I also noted a few carp up on the shoreline here as well. Amid the carp activity, I noted occasional, single white bass sipping shad off the surface over open water more distant from the shore. I caught one on a cork rig before moving on to continue the search.
I headed to the shallows between Areas 026 and 222 and again slowly motored while watching my surroundings and sonar. I saw some bottom hugging fish in 16′ in this area and got a slab down among them without result.
I then headed to between Areas 160-205 and felt blessed to find abundant white bass surface feeding activity here at around 8:00am. I again went with the cork rig, got 2 whites and missed a nice largemouth right off the bat, but then continued sight casting to surface feeding fish without result. What I found was a repeat of a situation I encountered around this time last year. These white bass were feeding at the surface on shad fry. These fry are extremely small and don’t require a lot of effort to track down, catch, and consume; accordingly, the white bass were not in the classic topwater frenzy, rather, they were feeding in a more relax, slow, easy manner just slurping these small fry in. Since the size of these fry make them essentially impossible to imitate, I experimented with an alternate presentation that would tempt them. I found that very accurately placing the cork rig on feeding fish and then non-aggressively working that back to the boat, thus NOT creating a bunch of commotion allowed for a fish to be caught on nearly every well-placed cast. When the fish disappeared from the surface, a bladebait failed to produce, despite the fact that I could see and keep up with the moving schools after they sounded. I stayed on these fish for 2 hours as they surfaced and disappeared, surfaced and disappeared. By around 10, this action died. I’d taken 31 fish here by this time.
Often when the fish are found at Area 205, they’ll also begin showing up in other predictable places, as well. I headed to the cove in which Area 431 is located and slowly motored, looked, and studied sonar. I didn’t see much going on, but wanted to linger just in case, so I worked a jigwork along the rocks listening and watching. The wind was still SE at this point, leaving the area fairly calm. I looked back in the backwaters and pockets to see if any sunfish had pushed up shallow yet, but saw none. I managed 3 average largemouth on the worm with 2 more missed on the jump, but no signs of white bass materialized, so I moved on.
I then headed to Area 245. The wind was beginning to go SSE and was picking up at this point to about 14-15. I noted regularly appearing schools of shad tightly grouped on bottom, indicating they were defensive. I saw a few gamefish arcs on sonar and so dropped a buoy on the best-looking spot on the spot and went to work. At first, it was like pulling teeth, getting a few small largemouth to perk up, chase and respond to and easing technique. Then, a few white bass entered into the mix, primarily moving through suspended in the bottom 1/3 of the water column. As the action peaked (although still very sluggish) I was catching a mix of whites and black with regularity and also pulled a short crappie and 2 drum. A total of 14 fish came off this area before the action died hard.
I was about to call it a day and was actually packing up the gear and prepping the boat to head back in to the ramp, when very suddenly the wind shifted from SSE to SSW and racheted up about 2-3 mph. A wind shift out of the west is always a fish trigger. I headed down to Area 430 and one quick sonar pass revealed very active fish near and on bottom in ~24-27′. I got positioned over these fish, got a slab down and they immediately started pounding the slab, despite the fairly silty, olive-drab water. In the next ninety minutes I added 33 fish to the tally. This congregation of fish included a number of year groups from 1-4 years, ranging from 7 to 15 inches in length. By around 3:15p this action was tailing off, so I packed it up for good.
For the 24 hour period of this day, the lake rose 0.12 feet and is still ~1.6 feet below full pool.
TALLY = 82 FISH, all caught and released
Bob Maindelle, Owner, Holding The Line Guide Service and Kids Fish, Too! Stillhouse Hollow Fishing Guide, Belton Lake Fishing Guide, Lake Georgetown Fishing Guide, Walter E. Long (Decker) Lake Fishing Guide. Offering Salado Fishing, Killeen Fishing and Ft. Hood Fishing