I fished a full day trip with Mr. Paul L. and his son, Alex, of Belton, TX, today. Paul works with computers at McClane’s in Temple, and Alex is finishing up his junior year at Belton High and will be getting right to work on applying for colleges (right, Alex?!?).
Our conditions were just right for a very productive day of fishing — a stiff southerly breeze, grey cloud cover, air and water temps both in the 60’s, and pre-frontal conditions provided by an approaching cold front due to hit overnight.
When all was said and done we’d put together the year’s most productive trip thus far, and had boated the year’s largest fish thus far — an 8.25 pound flathead (yellow) catfish that struck a jigged slab.
Paul L. with an 8 1/4 pound flathead catfish taken on a TNT 180 slab in 21 feet of water.
Alex and Paul with a post-sunset shot representing the mixed bag angling that we encountered over most of the day today.
Start Time: 7:20a
End Time: 7:45p
Air Temp: 53F at trip’s start
Water Surface Temp: 60-61F
Wind: Winds started at S. 6 and ramped up to S. 20+ by 2:00p, then tapered back to S. 12-15 in the evening..
Skies: Skies were light grey until around noon, then cleared to fair and partly cloudy until around 3:30p, then went mostly cloudy through sunset.
NOTE: I received a report from Jeff W. that he’d found white bass north of Area 256.
It’d be a bit monotonous to list every last thing we did in a 12 hour trip, so, briefly put, here’s what happened today:
From sunrise up until 10:05a, we enjoyed the presence of birds, both gulls and terns, to help us stay on top of active fish. This lead us to success by way of flatlining at Area 116 to Area 407. This also lead us to success by way of slabbing in 23-26 feet of water in the vicinity of Area 373 over to Area 598, and the birds pointed the way to fish we caught by flatlining in the area bounded by Areas 598, 102, and 373. This last scenario was one I rarely encounter. Birds were very frisky, but we could find very little on sonar. As it turned out, the fish push shad up to the birds were suspended less than 12 feet below the surface, and, there were more largemouth bass in this mix than there were white bass. I had to adjust my sonar setting to eliminate the usual surface clutter that fills the top of the screen on windy days in order to see these fish clearly, and then we had to select lures that would access them. By far the best producer was the Rip Shad with a 9-10 foot dive range, followed by the Bomber (it went a bit too deep) and in a distant third place came the downrigged White Willow. I eventually yanked the the downrigger out of the mix as it was more technical than the situation required.
By 10:05 all birds were gone and we had a bit of a lull. By now we’d boated 36 fish.
After about 45 minutes of continuing to slowly milk largemouth out of the surface layer, we hit Area 89 (BA:6T) and found aggressive, schooled white bass here tight to the bottom in 19-23 feet of water. We used slab presented by way of jigging, easing, and fished lift-drop style and really wore these fish out for right at one hour. During this time we caught 51 fish including just a few largemouth with the balance being white bass of all sizes. As the sun broke through strongly for the first time all day, these fish turned off quickly. We anchored (due to the increasing S. wind now at 20mph)and put out live baits as we downed some lunch. We only managed one crappie in about a 45 minute span as we ate, and then decided to move on.
Alex picked up on short bass at Area 604. We then hit Area 599/600 and picked up several whites and 3 drum. We eased north and hit Area 545 for several more white bass and our big fish of the trip, an 8.25 pound flathead!
By now it was 3:15, and we hit a dry spell until around 4:30 when, at Area 352 we consistently began to pick up white bass on a flatline. The small area that each of these whites came from made it clear these fish were congregated tightly, so, we switched over to jigging and brought our fish count up to 121 by the time the action here was dying off. The fish here were very aggressive at first, and responded to a smoking retrieve, then had to be jigged, then had to be jigged tediously, then we finished by lift-dropping. We caught large fish at first, and ended with catching numerous very small (6 to 8 inch) fish.
We ended our day where it began, flatlining at Area 116 to 407, adding 10 final fish to the count including 8 white bass and 2 just-legal largemouth.
It was interesting to note that the 3 longest white bass we landed today (all over 14″) were very lean, and had the appearance of being “spawned out”.
TALLY = 131 FISH, all caught and released