I fished a morning trip on Belton Lake today with returning guest Lyn B. from the Atlanta, GA, area, and her fishing buddy, Ruffin, also of the Atlanta area. The two were in town to celebrate Lyn’s mom’s 50th wedding anniversary. On our first trip in the late Spring 2 years ago, we fished Stillhouse and did well on largemouth and white bass by vertical jigging. Today, I chose Belton for variety’s sake to take a shot at some topwater action and hybrid striped bass.
Lyn and Ruffin with 3 hybrid taken in a short, intense feed right around 11:30am today.
As we got on the water we were blessed to find some very aggressive and long-lasting topwater action right off the bat. Between Areas 483 and 501, we found a mix of white bass and short hybrids working over juvenile shad big-time. Over a 45 minute span, my two guests worked the rods and I simply ran the trolling motor and took fish off the hook. During this frenzy, we boated 31 fish and had a few others pull off enroute to the boat. Many fish regurgitated very small shad ranging from 3/4 to 1 inch in length — this confirmed that the small presentation we were using on our Cork Rigs were just right.
After this action died, the topwater was just about over for good for the morning, and we had to actually work for the remainder of our catch.
In summary, we got 1 fish on topwater just NE of Area 651, out in open water from the cove mouth. This fish came on a Cicada and was in a very loose, well-dispersed school of fish on a waning topwater feed.
Next, we moved to Area 562 and repeated the same scenario — 1 fish on a Cicada taken from a very loose, well-dispersed school of fish on a waning topwater feed.
Next, we hit Area 174 and began using downriggers for the first time today. We boated 2 keeper hybrid here on Pets and moved on after the remaining fish got lockjaw.
Then, it was on to Areas 472-473. We continued the downrigging program here and boated 6 fish — 5 whites and a short hybrid.
On to Area 214 for more downrigging and 5 more white bass, plus a missed keeper hybrid.
We ended the day with a short flurry of keeper hybrid activity found right on and NE of Area 181, again, on downriggers. As is common of feeding “spikes” at mid-day, this was very short-lived. It was now around noon, we’d boated exactly 60 fish, and my travel-weary companions were ready for a nap in the air conditioning, and a bit of lunch, so we called it a great morning at that point and headed back in.
This evening I invited my mom, Charlotte, out to fish with me based on a strong hunch that the topwater we enjoyed this morning would return as the sun set. Mom’s fished with me for my whole life and we’ve never encountered topwater action while she’s been aboard, so I was really hoping this would be a first for her.
My mom, Charlotte, with a nice 5.0 pound hybrid taken on downriggers just before tonight’s big topwater feed.
We got on the water around 6:15 and did a little downrigging until the time was right around 8:00pm and the sun had set sufficiently to dim the lights enough for some topwater action to take place.
During our time spent downrigging we boated 10 fish working large and small silver Pets “solo” behind the balls. This included 8 white bass, 1 short hybrid, and 1 keeper hybrid — a fish going right at 5 pounds which would turn out to be our only keeper hybrid on this evening’s outing.
As is typical before a sunset frenzy, there was a bit of a lull for about an hour, from ~7pm to 8pm, then, suddenly, there was one splash, then 7 or 8, then 30 or 40, and soon the surface was frothing with surface feeding fish. We worked these fish over thoroughly, trying to make every cast count by ensuring they were well-placed, and correctly retrieved. We enjoyed nearly an hour of topwater action and boated exactly 60 fish during the melee. Not long after wrapping up I got a very relable report that fish were also active on topwater today and for the last 5 evenings at Area 012 around this same time.
One note about topwater fishing for white bass (or any schooling fish prone to sounding at any time) — you’ve really got to “make hay while the sun shines”, and that includes having rods already set up with appropriate lures, making well placed casts to present your lure to multiple fish in a given cast, working your lure at a productive pace and not letting adrenaline cause your retrieve speed to increase. I see a lot of people lose a lot of valuable time by fooling around with fish they’ve landed. Unhooking fish can be made simpler by 1) using single hooks instead of treble hooks, and 2) pinching down the barbs with a pair of needle-nose pliers. This makes for a smoother, quicker, and less damaging release to get you back in the water that much more quickly. Finally, taking a look at the big picture and seeing if the fish are moving in a specific direction and then keeping up with them while remaining at a “safe” distance away to avoid spooking them will also up your catch.
TALLY = 60 fish in the morning, 70 fish in the evening for a total of 130 fish boated today.
Today’s AM conditions:
Start Time (AM): 6:30am
End Time (AM): 12:00 noon
Air Temperature at Trip’s Start: 72F
Water Surface Temperature: 85.1F
Skies: 100% thin, grey, low clouds, clearing off my noon.
Today’s PM conditions:
Start Time (PM): 6:15pm
End Time (PM): 9:00pm
Air Temperature at Trip’s Start: 93F
Water Surface Temperature: 85.6F
Winds: SSE12 and tapering to 7-8
Skies: Fair skies.