WHO I FISHED WITH: This past Saturday evening I fished with U.S. Army Major Michael Byrnes and his oldest two children, Evelyn (age 13) and Michael (age 10). We were originally supposed to fish over the holidays, but the weather just didn’t cooperate. The delay worked out well, as it allowed Major Byrnes to accompany the kids on their big adventure. Major Byrnes and his wife, Lyndsay, decided to move their family to Fort Hood for just 1 year from their home in Marshall, Wisconsin, instead of being separated from dad after he was called onto active duty to serve at Fort Hood with the 646th Regional Support Group. This unit helps all National Guard and Reserve units coming through Ft. Hood to get logistically prepared for deployment to Iraq and Afghanistan. This was the year’s first SKIFF (Soldiers’ Kids Involved in Fishing Fun) trip provided to military kids free of charge courtesy of the Austin Fly Fishers since 2009.
From left: Major Michael Byrnes, his son, Michael Byrnes, and Evelyn Byrnes, each with a 2-year class white bass caught in the last hour of the day from a near-motionless school we found suspended over a channel beneath birds.
Evelyn with our largest fish of the trip.
Michael with the first fish of his life, which earned him a TPWD “First Fish Award”
WHAT WE FISHED FOR: This was a multi-species trip focused on white bass using artificial lures.
WHERE WE FISHED: Belton Lake
WHEN WE FISHED: Saturday afternoon, 13 January 2018
HOW WE FISHED: We fished a full four hours. As is typical of afternoon trips, we more than doubled our catch in the last hour. Our first 3 hours were spent in deeper, clear water vertically jigging for white bass seen holding in schools on bottom. We used snap-jigging and a slow easing tactic to catch our first 33 fish by 4:45pm. There were instances where deadsticking would have been appropriate, but, given that Evenlyn and Michael were brand new to fishing and that setting the hook while deadsticking was going to be tough to get the hang of on their first trip out, I left that tactic alone. In the final hour of our trip, a flock of helpful terns and gulls got active over top of a nearly immobile school of white bass (with a few hybrid hanging around) in an area where a nearby channel cuts close to the bank. We slowly smoked our slabs through this large, cooperative school and put a final 35 fish in the boat, including the several largest white bass of the trip.
During this trip, Evelyn landed the first fish of her life — a 17 3/8″ freshwater drum. Michael also landed the first fish of his life — a 7.25″ white bass. We caught a total of 2 drum, 5 hybrid striped bass, 3 largemouth bass, and 58 white bass.
OBSERVATIONS/NOTES: 1) The cold water, north wind, high pressure, and clear skies today combined to really make the fish lethargic. We saw way more fish on sonar than we had show interest in our baits. In several instances, we only caught fish during the first few minutes our lures were dropped into a school; after catching 3 or 4, the fish just lost interest and settled back to bottom.
TALLY: 68 FISH, all caught and released
Start Time: 1:45p
End Time: 5:45p
Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start: 48F (then falling with an approaching cold front)
Water Surface Temp: 51.8 to 52.1F
Wind Speed & Direction: N8-11
Sky Conditions: Clear, bluebird skies
Water Level: 3.14 feet low
GT = 0
Wx SNAPSHOT: N/A
AREAS FISHED WITH SUCCESS:
**Area B0026C – deep jigging for small whites
**Area B0012C – deep jigging for small whites
**Area B0027C – mid-depth slow smoking for suspended 2 & 3 year class white bass
Bob Maindelle, Central Texas Fishing Guide
Owner, Holding the Line Guide Service
254.368.7411 (call or text)