This past Saturday evening, New Year’s Eve, I fished with father and son team Lain Gay and his 14-year-old son, Garrett, from Kingwood, Texas, up northeast of Houston. We fished a multi-species trip on Lake Belton focused primarily on white bass.
Garrett Gay of Kingwood, TX, with an exceptional 15.5 inch Lake Belton white bass. This fish eclipsed the 15.00″ threshold which qualifies Garrett for a “Big Fish” award, the first step in pursuing Texas “Elite Angler” status. This fish came on a white slab equipped with a Hazy Eye Stinger hook.
From left: Garrett and Lain Gay amassed a catch of 131 fish in 4+ hours on the water this past New Year’s Eve.
Lain grew up in Buda, TX, and now makes his living selling dental implants in the Houston area. He found me doing a Google search while here in central Texas visiting his parents for the holidays.
The trip divided pretty evenly into two parts. The first part, under brighter and windier conditions, we conducted toward the main basin where we jigged for heavily schooled, but typically smallish, white bass in 40 to 46 feet of water. For this deep work we used 3/8 oz. Redneck Fish’n Jigs Model 180 slabs in white equipped with Hazy Eye Stinger hooks. We fished these rigs with an “easing” tactic since the fish were very tightly holding to the bottom.
In 2.25 hours of effort we had already landed exactly 80 fish when I proposed to the fellows that we violate one of my most basic rules of fishing which is “never leave fish to find fish”, all in hopes of catching a few larger whites and possibly some hybrid striper.
The second part of our trip consisted of an effort to put some larger fish in the boat. For this, we headed up into one of Belton’s tributaries to seek out more fertile and slightly more turbid water.
We spent about 35 minutes looking for our first fish in this area, but once we got onto a few fish courtesy of sonar, I figured out what the fish were doing and was able to stay on them right up until the last fish hit at dark at about 5:40 PM.
Whereas the majority of the fish we caught in deeper, more clear water were one year old fish, the majority of the fish we caught in the more turbid, shallow water were two-year-old fish with a few three-year class fish thrown in. Once again, there was no helpful bird action to speak of, save for a few frisky terns that dove down on the water within 50 yards of us for only a few moments.
In retrospect, we were glad we made the move, as the largest white bass of the trip, captured by Garrett, came as a result of this move. That fish measured 15.5 inches which eclipses the threshold length to qualify for a TPWD “Big Fish Award”. Once an angler captures a certain number of “Big Fish”, that angler then qualifies for Texas “Elite Angler” status.
By the time all was said and done, we had landed exactly 131 fish. The last fish came right at dark, at 5:40 PM.
TALLY = 131 FISH, all caught and released
Start Time: 1:00pm
End Time: 5:40pm
Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start: 68F
Water Surface Temp: 58.7F
Wind Speed & Direction: SSW9-12
Sky Conditions: 40% white cloud cover on a fair sky
Water Level: 0.57 feet above full pool
GT = 50
AREAS FISHED WITH SUCCESS:
**Area 1875 – white bass action on a breakline with 3/8 oz. slabs using an easing tactic
**Area 1876 – white bass action on a breakline with 3/8 oz. slabs using an easing tactic
**Area 1392 – white bass action on a breakline with 3/8 oz. slabs using an easing tactic
**Area 1877-1864 – white bass action on mid-depth hump on 3/4 oz. slabs using snap jigging
**Area 1878 – white bass action on mid-depth hump on 3/4 oz. slabs using snap jigging
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