Today I welcomed back long time clients Jim and Shena S. of Austin for a full-day trip on Belton Lake in pursuit of white bass and hybrid striped bass.
The hybrid went into overdrive in mid-afternoon forcing shad of about 3″ in length to the surface. Long-casting with Kastmasters wired to Berkley NanoFil line made for some great fishing!!
Jim is associated with the University of Texas and Shena is now a student there looking to depart as a middle school/high school credentialed teacher when her studies are complete. We “drilled” the necessary techniques required for consistently boating cold-water whites and hybrid before ever leaving the boatramp area this morning and those lessons surely paid off today as the fish were unwilling to move very far or very fast for a bait for a majority of the day.
Despite the great number of fish we boated today, we actually got off to a very slow start. The winds were okay (barely) but the skies, which were forecast to be ~70% cloudy, were bright and clear as could be. So, while the winds remained light and steady, the fishing stayed at a crawl.
Finally, around 9:45, the SSW wind ramped up a good 5-6 mph and was sustained at around 12 mph. We got on fish at this point and stayed on them the balance of the day, save for a ~90 minute window from 3:00 to 4:30p.
We boated the majority of our fish in 25-30 feet of water in the vicinity of Area 1007/1008, putting 121 of our 177 over the side here with a very straightforward vertical jigging approach (we’d only boated 1 other fish up to this point in our day!).
Around 2:00pm some very suddenly materializing bird action led the way to our first of two encounters with heavily schooled hybrid. These fish were aggressive and were pushing shad ahead of them and upwards toward the surface. We used large Kastmaster spoons to ‘reach out and touch’ these fish on long casts so we could cover lots of water and keep our retrieves fairly flat. When the surface action died, we were able to use a smoking technique to tempt hybrids holding at mid-depths. In all, we put 22 more fish in the boat during this melee, including numerous fish at the 3.5 to 4.0 pound mark. As this action died, we experienced the “afternoon lull” of about 90 minutes in length.
Around 4:30p, things begin picking up again. We found schooled, bottom-hugging white bass at Area 1011, Area 1009/376, and at Area 201. Each time we boated a few fish only to have them move off, forcing us to make a short hop to reconnect with them. All told, in numerous short hops, we boated 23 more fish in these areas, this time using both a jigging and an easing approach.
Finally, just after sunset, we noted a few birds looking “fishy” between Area 1010 and Area 1000. We motored in with sonar on, spotted hybrid down 12-15 feet from the surface, and again worked these fish over with Kastmasters. As the action developed, we saw fish breaking water and boiling, and saw threadfin shad of about 3″ in length skipping out of the water ahead of the aggressive hybrid. We put a final touch of 10 more fish in the boat including 7 hybrid, 2 white bass and 1 largemouth before our birds lifted and our light failed.
TALLY = 177 FISH all caught and released
Start Time: 7:15a
End Time: 6:15p
Air Temp: 54F at trip’s start.
Water Surface Temp: 51.0F.
Wind: Winds were SSW6 at trip’s start, ramping up to SSW16 by late afternoon, and then tapering off to SSW9 by sunset.
Skies: Skies were fair and cloudless.