Bob, Bob, Bobbie, and a 32″ Blue Cat!! Belton Lake Fishing Guide Report, 30 June 2012

This morning I fished father and daughter team Bob and Bobbie W. of Killeen. These nice folks came out with me two Novembers ago when Bobbie was home from college in Alabama. This year she gave Bob a Father’s Day fishing gift certificate and today was the day to cash it in.

Our highlight of the trip today was Bobbie’s 32 inch, 14.25 pound blue catfish that fell for her live threadfin shad hose-hooked on a #1 circle hook.

Here Bob and Bobbie pose with a pair of fish that came in over the side just seconds apart as a wolfpack of hybrid crashed into our bait spread at our very first stop of the morning.

In summary, we boated fish with slow consistency at Areas 1104, 1105, and 1106. At each stop along the way, the fish were suspended at around 25 to 28 feet over 35 to 50 feet, making depth adjustment something that had to be monitored closely.

Small blue cat were a bit of a nuisance today, as they frequently tail-grabbed our shad thus crippling or killing them without becoming hooked. I’ve got an experimental approach to countering this which I’ll be trying this upcoming week. I’ll keep you posted on how that goes!

By the time the day was done, we had enjoyed 3 distinct spurts of activity. Our final catch consisted of 1 largemouth bass, 1 channel catfish, 2 white bass (taken via downrigging as we searched for hybrid), 8 hybrid striped bass, and 8 blue catfish.

TALLY = 20 FISH, all caught and released

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Start Time: 6:15a

End Time: 11:30a

Air Temp: 76F at trip’s start.

Water Surface Temp: 86.4F

Wind: SE2-5 early, then light and variable during mid-morning, then increasing to SSE8 by trip’s end.

Skies: Skies were fair with 30% clouds.

A One Man Show — Belton Lake Hybrid Fishing — 35 Fish, 28 June 2012

This morning I fished Craig M., Temple High School’s head baseball coach and a special needs teacher. I nicknamed him the “fish vacuum” during a June 2008 trip on Stillhouse. Today’s showing proved the moniker was appropriate.

Craig with our largest fish of the morning, a 4.125 pound hybrid, and a nearly identical schoolmate that hit just seconds after his buddy did.

On a day that should have been tougher than it was, Craig single-handedly landed 31 hybrid striped bass and threw in 3 blue cat and a chunky channel cat for good measure.

Our weather has been tough lately with nearly dead calm mornings putting a halt to all topwater action for about a week now. Today was forecast to have a SW breeze beginning around sunrise. That breeze never materialized until much later, so, after looking briefly for some easy topwater, we began to grind it out reading sonar for hybrid.

Craig’s intent was to focus just on hybrid. I was upfront letting him know that summertime hybrid fishing can involve long waits between brief spurts of action, but that the action will yield quality fish. He was just fine with that, so, after the hybrid we went.

I chose to go with live shad today even though they are getting tougher and tougher to catch, just as a hedge against the calm weather.

In summary, we boated fish with consistency at Areas 1104, 1105, and 1106. At each area the fish were suspended at around 25 to 28 feet over as much as 52 feet, making depth adjustment absolutely critical.

On a number of occasions we had 2 and 3 (one time all 4!) rods get pulled down at the same time. That’s exciting stuff when a hungry wolfpack of hybrids comes and crashes into your bait spread!!

Given the high water temperatures, we handled all of our fish minimally and returned them to the water quickly. I’ve got all rods outfitted with circle hooks which, 80 to 90% of the time will hook the fish in the corner of the mouth, or through the upper lip to facilitate a quick release. For those hooked more deeply, I keep a pair of diagonal cutting pliers handy and, without tugging or causing any undue trauma, cut the line or hook and leave it in place and release those fish as promptly as possible.

Along the way we got to talk Wildcat baseball, 7-on-7 football, food, hounds, life on a barge, and all about Craig and Susan’s baby boy who is on the way!!

This was a very enjoyable trip with a very capable fisherman.

TALLY = 35 FISH, all caught and released

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Start Time: 6:30a

End Time: 12:10p

Air Temp: 78F at trip’s start.

Water Surface Temp: 84.7F

Wind: SE2-5 early, then light and variable.

Skies: Skies were clear and bright.

Downrig or Else!! 25 Fish, 27 June 2012, Stillhouse Fishing Guide Report

This morning I fished with Dale and Edie (that’s a gal’s name, pronounced ee-dee) from around Round Rock, Texas.

Dale and Edie on a “fishing date”!!

Dale and Edie weren’t trophy hunting, nor insistent on a particular species or technique. Rather, they just wanted to catch some fish and enjoy being outdoors and with one another while doing it.

Our weather of late has dealt us a tough hand with very hot, bright, windless days (going on 6 in a row now) squelching any topwater action, and making the fishing much more difficult than we’d normally have with normal wind speeds and directions.

Today’s bottomline: if you weren’t downrigging, you weren’t catching fish on Stillhouse, at least not in any consistent quantities.

We discovered early on that the “band of life” around the thermocline was concentrated at around 25-27 feet today. We enjoyed success at just two of several areas we tried, and nearly all success came on a pair of tandem rigs rigged up with modified twin Pet Spoons.

We experienced two distinct “spikes” of activity — one at Area 197/909 which stretched from 7:05 to 8:40, and another lesser spike that occurred at Area 1103 from 10:45 to 11:30. Outside of this it was awful quiet.

During the first spike we began to catch fish on the downriggers including hooking two sets of doubles (two fish on one rig at the same time) — a pair of largemouth (both of which then got away on the jump) and a pair white bass. The downrigging stayed consistent and we even smoked a few from near bottom using TNT180 slabs. When the smoking action died, we went back to downrigging and rode that horse until it died around 8:40.

Like many people I take out, Dale has his own boat but experiences a lack of consistency when fishing Stillhouse, typically only boating a few fish, if that. So, as we went through the day, I was careful to point out things that would help him be more successful on his own wherever he fished, but especially on Stillhouse.

For our efforts on this tough day we still put 25 fish in the boat including 1 drum, 1 largemouth, and 23 white bass, all of which were of legal size, with several hitting the 13.75″ mark.

TALLY = 25 FISH, all caught and released

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Start Time: 6:30a

End Time: 12:10p

Air Temp: 78F at trip’s start.

Water Surface Temp: 84.7F

Wind: SE2-5 early, then light and variable.

Skies: Skies were clear and bright.

My Foot!! 72 Fish, Stillhouse Fishing Guide Report, 25 June 2012

This morning I fished Steve “Baboo” N., his adult son, Andrew, and Andrew’s not-quite-five year old daughter, Evelyn. Andrew and his family are visiting his parents in Temple from the Chicago area.

Andrew landed our big fish today, a 2 7/8 pound largemouth that nailed his TNT 180 slab as we worked in and around a big school of white bass.

Steve shows one of the FIVE pairs of doubles we hooked today. This was the only pair of largemouth — the rest were white bass. The second bass hit well after the first one was already hooked and had already jumped out of the water once.

I was VERY concerned about this trip. We had nearly slack winds called for (for a fourth day straight) and a young child on board. This can be an express ticket to boredom and a bad trip for all concerned, but, we got a reprieve. I had already postponed this trip from last Friday due to poor conditions, but, Andrew was due to fly back tomorrow, so, it was now or never.

Our first 75 minutes passed without a single hit and nothing much on sonar but “relaxed” shad holding down around 25-27 feet, giving a “blanket-like” signature versus the classic “bait ball” signature of threatened fish.

Then it happened … as we moved very intentionally along between Areas 1101 and 1102, keeping our downriggers set at 24 feet, we got our first strike and landed a solo largemouth on one of the two doctored Pet Spoons on one of our two tandem rigs. Another pass, another fish; this time a white bass. Another pass, two fish — this time a double (our first of FIVE doubles today) as Steve and Evelyn worked together to haul in a 1.75 and a 2.06 pound largemouth. And so it went until we’d boated 11 fish and the fun began to wear off as the sun bore down on Miss Evelyn.

To cater to her shorter attention span, we changed things up and went after sunfish in the shallows. We hit two areas (Area 231, then Area 1098) and, using maggots under a slip float, boated a total of 23 sunfish including bluegill and green sunfish. After Evelyn’s interest in that endeavor waned she turned her attention on the livewell full of sunfish we’d just caught and, with the help of some snack and cooling beverages, gave dad and grand-dad the okay to catch some fish on their own.

For whatever reason, Evelyn had in her mind to use her foot as a gauge for the “bigness” of a fish. For example, if a fish were longer than her foot (which was about 6 inches long, shoe and all), than she considered it “big”. Likewise, if a fish were smaller than her foot, she considered it “small”. That just kind of tickled me — a “kiddie-cubit” of sorts, just for fishing applications!!

Anyways, we headed back to the several areas where we’d found bait holding this morning to see if the gamefish had become (or remained) turned on in the light and variable breeze conditions.

We checked Area 039/041 — no dice. We check Area 1101 — nada. We headed to Area 1102 and bingo!! Between 1102 and Area 042, we picked up 5 fish on the downriggers, including 2 pairs of doubles and then we happened over a very large school of white bass hanging tight to a 25-32 foot breakline, and just up off bottom. We got our “smoking rods” out and, armed with TNT180 3/4oz. slabs, began working these fish over. This is very much a “make hay while the sun shines” affair because these very aggressive fish are very prone to moving away in pursuit of shad. We broke and regained contact with these fish 3 different times, and each time Steve and Andrew went to town at times catching the fish faster then I could get them unhooked. I got an occasional line in the water and handed my hooked fish off to Evelyn.

By the time this 35 minute long frenzy was over we’d boated another 33 fish using this technique. The sun was now at least as hot as Hades and Miss Evelyn had gone as long as she could (which was a good hour more than any of us though she would) and we called it a day right there and then.

In all we boated 23 sunfish, 1 drum, and 48 gamefish including 6 largemouth bass and 42 white bass. Not a single white bass went less than 12 inches today.

TALLY = 72 FISH, all caught and released

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Start Time: 6:30a

End Time: 11:15a

Air Temp: 76F at trip’s start.

Water Surface Temp: 84.3F

Wind: Calm until ~7:45, then light and variable.

Skies: Skies were clear and bright.

Windless, But Not Fishless — Stillhouse Fishing Guide Report, 46 Fish, 23 June 2012

This morning I fished Mr. & Mrs. Raymond S. of Belton, and one of their five children, Logan, age 11. This trip was a gift from Amy to Raymond (for Father’s Day) and to Logan (for his birthday).

Logan (R) and his mom, Amy (L) each lip a nice pair of 13+ white bass that we (really!) worked for today.

Logan holds a pair of largemouth in the foreground while his dad, Raymond, holds a pair of white bass that were landed in tandem on one Pet Spoon rig fished around 29 feet.

If you’ve spent much time reading this blog, you’ll know that Belton and Stillhouse are very tough to fish in dead calm conditions, with Belton being the tougher of the two. For this reason, seeing a windless forecast for this morning, I chose Stillhouse. Additionally, in talking with Amy concerning what she thought would interest Logan the most, we agreed that Stillhouse quantity (white bass and sunfish) over Belton quality (hybrid) would probably be best.

We did find fish today in two distinct areas, but, even when they showed on sonar, and even with bait present, the fish were very reluctant to bite. We had to have the downrigger ball within a foot of the fish to get bit. We had a short “rally” right as the wind finally began to blow around 10:45a, but, it was a case of too little too late to really perk the fish up.

Our first success came shortly after sunrise working double tandem rigs in the vicinity of Area 041/039 with doctored Pet Spoons over white bass at ~27 feet. Our first hookup was a tandem (2 fish on one rig) landed by Logan, and several more fish followed here. Despite a great quantity of bait present, the bait was “blanketed” instead of “balled”, indicating predator fish were not threatening them. We wound up with 7 fish here before things went softer than they already were.

We took a little break from the downrigging for variety’s sake and to allow the breeze of the boatride to cool us off a bit, and wound up doing a bit of sunfishing at Area 1098. With 3 poles going and everyone getting the hang of this technique very quickly, we put 28 sunfish in the boat in under 30 minutes and held some for use as bait in case the opportunity arose later.

Next, it was back to what was working — the downriggers. We hit Area 039/041 again and picked up 4 more white bass and a largemouth over a very small patch of water which we “strained” for all it was worth. After these fish were thinned out, we started looking again.

We checked out a few areas, but, with the winds still calm, it was an uphill battle.

Finally, around 10:45 a light SE breeze kicked in and, at Area 197/042, the fish turned on, albeit briefly. We mangaged 6 more fish here (3 white bass, 1 channel cat, 1 drum, and 1 largemouth) with our balls set around 28-29 feet. After about 40 minutes on location here the bite died.

We wrapped up the trip doing some drifting with live bait but to no avail. The best I’ve been doing on live bait lately has been while using it after topwater action has occurred in an area and then dies. The live bait draws the still active, but suspended, fish out. We never did see any topwater action today, so, we were already pushing our luck as we began.

Logan was a trooper. He did really well, staying enthusiastic and optimistic right to the end of the trip. I let him know as we concluded our trip that this was a slower than average day. With a “glass half full” attitude, he said he was glad that we caught fish that we did managed to find.

TALLY = 46 FISH, all caught and released

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Start Time: 6:30a

End Time: 12:30p

Air Temp: 73F at trip’s start.

Water Surface Temp: 84.1F

Wind: Calm until ~10:45, then ESE4-6.

Skies: Skies were hazy and cloudless.

…And My Little Sister Got Seasick!! 34 Fish, Stillhouse Hollow Fishing Guide Report, 21 June 2012

This morning I fished with brother and sister Jaylon W. (10) and Kaylee W. (4) of Ennis, Texas. They were chaperoned by their aunt Stephanie while visiting their Uncle Steven and Aunt Annie in Belton.

Persistence paid off! After many casts fell short or didn’t quite land on target, Jaylon plopped his soft plastic down at the right place and at the right time and plucked this 15.5″ largemouth from out of a school that briefly appeared on topwater.

Here Jaylon and his Aunt Annie pose with Jaylon’s largest white bass taken via downrigging.

We started our day with 4 aboard and ended the day with but 2. No, scurvy nor pirates weren’t the issue, but, rather, a stomach bug that hit Miss Kaylee not long after catching her second fish of the day. I’ve never had someone get seasick in freshwater aboard my boat, but this had all the trappings, if you know what I mean…

So, Aunt Stephanie and Kaylee were returned to the dock, leaving Jaylon and I to battle a lake full of fish without assistance.

First, we looked for topwater action at sunrise, and found little.

Next, we downrigged the Area 039 to Area 041 vicinity thoroughly and did very well, consistently putting quality white bass of 13+ inches in the boat on every pass we made. We used doctored Pet Spoons in a tandem fashion on two ‘riggers, thus putting 4 baits in the water at a given time. On two occasions we landed two fish at a time on the tandem. We left this area with 21 fish boated.

As the downrigging action slowed a bit, we noticed two blue herons making patrol flights out over open water and so we drove over for a closer look and saw what they were interested in … schoolie largemouth pushing shad to the surface. We “matched the hatch” with appropriately sized soft plastics and put 5 keeper largemouth in the boat in about 45 minutes’ time. The potential was there for much more, but, Jaylon is a novice caster and we had to work through that to enable him to catch his own fish, but, after a while and some missed fish and some coaching, he got the hang of it and did just fine.

Once the largemouth sounded, Jaylon was itching to get back and do some more downrigging, so, we returned to the area of our previous success and found the fish had drifted to the west by a few yards, but were still there and hungry. We boated 3 more and then decided, both for variety’s sake and to cool off a bit with the breeze a boat ride would create, to check another location. In the vicinity of Area 823/457 we boated two more fish in our last 15 minutes on the water before Aunt Annie was spotted driving to the pickup point and we knew we had to reel our lines in and scoot.

As we return, we got permission to spend a few more minutes doing one last thing … using a pole (no reel) to catch sunfish. We baited up with maggots and a float over at Area 239 and put 3 fish in the boat very quickly just to whet Jaylon’s appetite for this technique he’d never seen before.

TALLY = 34 FISH, all caught and released

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Start Time: 6:30a

End Time: 11:00a

Air Temp: 73F at trip’s start.

Water Surface Temp: 83.4F

Wind: Winds SE2 at sunrise then barely moving from the SE thereafter.

Skies: Skies were hazy and humid due to multiple light thundershowers yesterday, with 20% cloudiness.

Doubles! and a Double-Double!! Stillhouse Hollow Fishing Guide Report, 18 June 2012

This morning I fished with husband and wife team Ken and Kris K. of Salado, Texas. Ken runs a brick-and-mortar coin shop in Harker Heights and Kris is enjoying retirement from the U.S. Air Force.

Here’s that double-double — four fish caught all at the same time on a pair of downrigged tandem rigs outfitted with doctored Pet Spoons.

To his credit, Ken clearly understood AND stated his goals for this trip — he wanted exposure to multiple techniques effective on Stillhouse and in this summer season so he could better his own chances as he fishes on his own. I say “to his credit”, because often times folks will have goals or expectations but they go unmet because they are never expressed, or are expressed only at or after the conclusion of the trip.

So, as we began our day, even before pushing off from the dock, I showed both Ken and Kris the “Cork Rig” that I use when topwater fish are present, gave them some pointers on casting and working these rigs, and then we set out to try to find some topwater action. None showed today, but just going through the necessary motions of looking and listening gave the couple an idea of what is necessary to be successful when the fish do cooperate.

Next, it was on to the prime summer tactic of downrigging. Nearly 80%+ of my summer success comes on the downriggers or is downrigger related. By “downrigger related” I mean, for example, that by downrigging, I may find a concentration of fish that could be more efficiently caught using a vertical or horizontal presentation due to how densely schooled they are — but, were it not for downrigging in the first place and moving slowly while observing sonar, I would not have found such fish.

The downrigging was definitely “on” today. We boated 23 fish in less than 2 hours including multiple doubles (two fish caught at one time using a tandem rig). At one point the bite got so aggressive that both Ken and Kris hooked up with a double — that’s a double-double!! We caught white bass, largemouth (small schoolies), and several drum all on the ‘riggers, and all just above the thermocline between Areas 039 and 482.

We could have kept right on catching on the downriggers, but, the goal was not to have a high fish count, the goal was to show effective summertime techniques.

So, off we went to hit some shallow-water sunfish habitat. Where weeds, rock and wood come together in shallow water is always a good bet. So it was at Area 1098. We didn’t stay here long — just enough to show how to catch sunfish reliably, which, by the way, serve as an excellent live bait. After boating 15 sunfish we moved on.

Next, we went looking for largemouth with the intention of using live bait on downlines to catch them. We looked over rock, weed, and breaklines, and for all our efforts only drew 3 strikes, none of which resulted in boated fish. Still, going through all of the motions of setting the boat’s position, hooking the baits properly, adjusting the depth of the bait certain ways in certain circumstances, etc., was all made clear. The fish were icing on the cake.

During the time we were hovering over one of the more open-water areas, a fair school of white bass appeared beneath us. Seeing this opportunity, we broke out the spinning rods and worked our baits “smoking style” through the school. As they often are in the hot summer-time water, these white bass were moving too quickly. By the time our baits reached the lower 1/3 of the water column, these white bass had moved far away.

By 11:30 we decided to call it a day with a multitude of techniques, some successful and some not, all laid out for future use.

A note to those of you considering hiring a guide — do as Ken did… be upfront with your guide about what you want to do, then, listen to his/her response. He may know that what you want to do in a given season or for a given species will simply not be productive and can temper your desires with some hard-earned experience and reality. You can then decide if you want to press on, or you can adjust your strategy, or strike some compromise on how to spend your time on the water. It all starts with communicating your expectations!

TALLY = 38 FISH, all caught and released

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Start Time: 6:30a

End Time: 11:35a

Air Temp: 76F at trip’s start.

Water Surface Temp: 82.7F

Wind: Winds SSW6 at sunrise, then slowly building to S13.

Skies: Skies were fair with 10% cloudiness.

Do You Offer Curbside Pickup?? 45 Fish, Belton Lake Fishing Guide Report, 16 June 2012

This morning I fished with father and son Joe and Joey L. of Robinson, Texas, in celebration of Joe’s birthday.

Joe took big fish honors today with this 4.00 pound hybrid striped bass taken on live shad.

Joey learned a lot on this trip, including how to cast with spinning gear and how to fight larger fish and work with the net man to successfully get hooked fish in the boat.

Joe’s wife, Melissa, phoned me about 6 weeks ago and set up this birthday trip for Joe. The family was going to be camping at Cedar Ridge Park on Belton, so, I did a dockside pickup at the ramp near the marina there and off we went at 5:55am. As we got to know each other I learned that Joe sells fasteners and hardware for a living and that Joey has his sights set on attending the U.S. Air Force Academy when his upcoming senior year of high school is behind him.

Our first stop was in the vicinity of Area 151 as we stopped to look for some topwater. A very helpful blue heron led us right to the fish and we quickly put 5 fish in the boat before this very brief action died for good, followed by a lull in the action.

We did a lot of looking with sonar and a bit of downrigging once we found something of interest, but, for about 90 minutes worth of effort, we only came up with a short hybrid, two white bass, and a small largemouth, all from out of about 23 feet of water near Area 1019, and all on doctored Pet Spoons.

More looking …

More looking …

Finally! Active fish suspended up off bottom over a break from 35 to 42 feet of water at Area 1099 with abundant bait in the area. This looked good. We carefully e-anchored right over the breakline and baited up with live shad (gizzard and threadfin) on downlines. We were very particular about getting the baits down to the right level — 24 feet was the ticket today. We got lines down, got some chum going, and in came the fish. We stayed on this spot and enjoyed continuous action from about 9:15 to 11:30. Most of our hybrid came during a window of activity from 9:45 to 10:15, with fewer hybrid striper, blue cat, and channel cat coming both before and after that peak.

In all, we boated 36 fish here at least half of which were solid, keeper-sized (18+ inch) hybrid. Our big fish of the trip was the hybrid shown held by Joe above. It came in at exactly 4.00 pounds on a certified scale. I noted that the few large gizzard shad we had in the bait tank all got hit immediately, whereas the threadfins spent a little longer dancing around before they attracted gamefish. Unfortunately, I only had 4 gizzards to my 90+ threadfins, so, this could have just been coincidence — not really enough there to make a statistic out of it.

By 11:35, the winds were lightening, the skies were brightening, and small catfish were moving in on our chum causing a lot of missed strikes, so, we called it a good trip right there and headed back to the campground.

TALLY = 45 FISH, all caught and released

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Start Time: 6:00a

End Time: 11:35a

Air Temp: 77F at trip’s start.

Water Surface Temp: 83.7F

Wind: Winds SSE8 at sunrise, then slowly building to SSE12.

Skies: Skies were lightly overcast around sunrise, clearing to fair with 30-40% cloudiness.

Fishing Fun with Grandpa Lynn! 64 Fish, Stillhouse Fishing Guide Report, 14 June 2012

This morning I fished with Grandpa Lynn H., his son, Clay, and Clay’s two children, August (Auggie, age 6) and Katerina (Kat, age 10). This was a “Kids Fish, Too!” trip in which only the kids did the fishing.

Kat saved the best for last! Our biggest fish of the trip took Kat’s bait just before we wrapped up today and helped us end on a good note.

The white bass put on a show for us this morning allowing multiple doubles. We boated 20 white bass before the novelty wore off, but could have kept right on catching them.

I first met “Grandpa” Lynn last summer when he brought a buddy out along for the ride and paid for his buddy’s grandkids to fish. This time the summer schedule allowed for his own grandkids to come along, so, we had three generations aboard and plenty of fish to go around for the kiddos.

As I often do with elementary-aged kids, I tried to break this trip down into several “mini-trips” each distinctly different in technique and species sought.

Today, we targeted white bass first. We found abundant, suspended white bass between Areas 209 and 039 for the first time this season. We downrigged this area with doctored Pet Spoons, one set in tandem, and one fished solo. I had the kids take turns and they each boated 10 fish before the novelty wore off and they were ready for something new. Of the 20 fish, 15 were white bass and the balance were school-sized largemouth.

Next, it was off to catch sunfish. With our 13+ foot rise in water level thanks to two significant rains in March and subsequent lighter rains since then, our water level is within 1.5 feet of full pool and the hydrilla is starting to grow again in the shallows. This is where we headed for sunfish, at Area 189 to be exact. It was a pretty simple thing to get the kids on fish and keep them on fish. The only thing that limited our potential was the occasional lost bait or tangled line. In no time the kids had landed 42 fish here including longear sunfish, bluegill sunfish, and a few blacktail shiners thrown in for good measure. We kept a few of these for bait.

Our last challenge was to land some larger fish on the sunfish we had held onto for bait. By the time we got around to doing this the wind, although from a favorable direction, was up to around 12-13 mph, and had our rods rocking pretty good which is never a helpful thing when using bait. Nonetheless, Aug pulled in a channel cat whose eyes were bigger than its belly as we drifted through Area 204, and, to close us out, Kat put a nice largemouth bass over the side on a sunfish at Area 458 before we headed back in and called it a day.

TALLY = 64 FISH, all caught and released

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Start Time: 6:30a

End Time: 11:30a

Air Temp: 74F at trip’s start.

Water Surface Temp: 81.2F

Wind: Winds SSW8 at sunrise, then slowly building to SSW12.

Skies: Skies were fair with 30% cloudiness.

Best Use for Leftover Live Shad — 92 FISH, Belton Fishing Guide Report, 13 June 2012, 92 FISH

This morning I fished with Mark C., his teenaged son, Colby, and Mark’s brother-in-law, Tim. These fellows live out west of here between Hamilton and Hico, Texas.

(L to R) Tim, Colby, and Mark boated these 3 fish simultaneously as we fished over a 32 foot bottom with live shad today.

After finding white fuzzy mold growing on his newly purchased beef jerky, young Colby went in search of alternative menu items. This was by far the most creative use I’ve seen for those leftover shad at the end of a trip … Shad in a Blanket!!

This was a great trip with a bunch of fellows who obviously enjoyed one another’s company. The whole family decided to make the Live Oak Ridge park on Belton their destination for an RV-reunion of sorts. No reunion on the lake would be complete without a fishing trip, so, that’s where I came in.

As we got going this morning we were blessed to encounter the most aggressive topwater action I’ve seen so far this season. Between 6:20am and 7:22am these three fellows boated exactly 69 fish on topwater. I had all three rigged up with a Cork Rig and the fish just came over the side non-stop. Most fish were average white bass around 11″, or short hybrid around 13″. This topwater action involved multiple moderately sized school feeding simultaneously over a span of water stretching from Area 811 to Area 959. These fish were feeding on both newly hatched shad and smallish adult shad. We were fortunate to have some thick cloud cover to keep the bright sun off the water, but, once that sun shone through, those fish left the surface not to return again. By 7:25 the surface was calm and there was no evidence of the frenzy that had just taken place.

We then turned to downrigger fishing to try to locate some suspended, active fish. We found little after searching several areas and moved on after catching just one hybrid and one small white bass in about 45 minutes of effort.

After doing a little more hunting, sonar revealed some solid action in the lower fourth of the water column in 32 feet of water in the vicinity of Area 1097. We got 4 rods down baited up with live shad and went to work.

Over the next two hours the action was moderate and consistent. We managed to boat 21 more fish including a mix of keeper hybrid striped bass, largemouth bass, freshwater drum, channel catfish and blue catfish. We fished primarily from an e-anchored position with a little drifting thrown in at the last 30 minutes of the trip just to cover some territory as the bite began to flatten for good.

Along the way we got to share tales of Algeria, dysentery, nurse cows, Hick-O, high-end cheese, the Lord’s favor, FFA, and much, much more. Thanks fellows. It was good to get to know you!

TALLY = 92 FISH, all caught and released

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Start Time: 6:15a

End Time: 11:45a

Air Temp: 74F at trip’s start.

Water Surface Temp: 81.2F

Wind: Winds SSW8 at sunrise, then slacking off to SSW5-6 for remainder of trip.

Skies: Skies were overcast and bright grey.