This past Tuesday afternoon, December 29th, I fished Belton Lake with returning clients Jason and Morgan Tuggle from near Liberty Hill, TX.
Photo-bombed! Morgan displays her discontent at Jason’s landing of our 100th fish after she worked hard for it, only to have it shake the hook loose with a headshake just as it broke the surface. Jason holds a pair of white bass, each exceeding 14″, that came at our last stop of the evening out of 24 feet of water on silver 3/4 oz. slabs.
Morgan with yet another pair of 14″+ white bass from the last area, and most shallow area, we fished this evening.
Jason works in the printing industry, and Morgan, a two-time collegiate All-American volleyball player out of Trinity, both works for a yearbook company and coaches a girls’ club volleyball team. The couple also raise exotic animals on their property, including blackbuck and oryx. Jason and Morgan have taken some pretty neat fishing trips together, including an alligator gar trip on the Trinity River, and a jumbo blue catfishing trip on Lake Tawakoni. This coming summer they’re heading to Alaska for a salmon/halibut run.
The Tuggle’s contacted me while I was out on the water last Saturday afternoon fishing in the pre-frontal conditions in advance of the hard, wet cold front that swept over Texas Saturday night through Monday morning. As I quickly looked at the NOAA weather forecast at that time, I saw this afternoon’s “window” of opportunity as the only half-day time frame I could get excited about. I suggested we nail that date and time down, and they gave me a thumbs-up.
NOAA called for a brief return to ESE winds, some grey cloud cover, and the highest afternoon temperatures of the entire week before the winds turned northerly once again on Wednesday. We booked the trip and, as it turned out, NOAA was fairly accurate with their forecast, and we did enjoy good results and very fishable weather.
The cold front knocked about 3 degrees Fahrenheit off the water surface temperature — I left nearly 61F water on Saturday and returned to 57.8-58.3F water today as we moved from area to area. This is still very warm water for this late in the year.
The fish were a bit tentative as we began our trip. I found isolated patches of fish near only some of the areas that have been producing well lately, but the fish tended to be holding deeper in these locations — around 34-36 feet today while the sun was still bright during the first 2 hours on the water. As we would begin jigging with slabs at a given area, I would watch on sonar as 5, 6, 7 or more fish would tentatively follow upwards after a slab without striking it. When a fish bit, it would ignite a “mini-feed”, allowing us to catch 3-4 fish in a spurt, then the fish would settle down again very quickly and we’d have to work at it to generate the next spurt.
Then, at 3:30p, a thick blanket of grey clouds moved in, totally obscuring the sun, and lowering the light level. The fish really turned on at this point and the catching got much easier. I shifted us up out of the deep water we were in and into shallower 23-27 foot depths.
We put half of our 110 fish in the boat in the 3rd hour of the trip, right after that cloud cover moved in. The cloud cover is a bit of a double-edged sword, however. Although it helps the daytime bite, it also darkens the skies earlier near sunset, and, depending on how thick the clouds are, can trim as much as 30 minutes of the end of a trip Today, by 5:25p, we caught our last fish and watched on sonar as the whole food chain just shut down in the failing light.
We wound up with exactly 110 fish for our efforts today, including mostly white bass with a few short hybrids sprinkled in, as well as 2 freshwater drum.
TALLY = 110 FISH, all caught and released
Start Time: 1:40p
End Time: 5:35p
Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start: 46F
Water Surface Temp: 57.8-58.3F
Wind Speed & Direction: ESE6-8
Sky Conditions: Fair, nearly cloudless skies for the first 2 hours, then 100% grey cloud cover the last 2 hours
Water Level: 4.30 feet above full pool with 0.29 feet of water released in the past 24 hours.
Other: GT= 40
AREAS FISHED WITH SUCCESS:
**Area 1677 – vertical jigging for fish found on sonar
**Area 1678 – vertical jigging for fish found on sonar
**Area 1679 – vertical jigging for fish found on sonar
**Area 1680 with a short hop to 1676 – vertical jigging for fish found on sonar
**Area 1681 with a short hop up about 3′ shallower – vertical jigging for fish found on sonar
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