I fished Belton today as a little scouting venture in advance of a trip this coming week with 3 young men from Troy, TX. Although the morning started off slow, things got going in the late morning. I was actually able to take several fish on a horizontally presented blade bait which is something the fish haven’t responded to since early December.
ONE OF 6 LEGAL HYBRIDS TAKEN ON TODAY’S TRIP
Start Time: 7:15a (sunrise at exactly 7:23a)
End Time: 12:50p
Air Temp: 47F.
Water Surface Temp: ~51-52F
Wind: Winds were moderate from the SSE at about 9 pre-sunrise, and built slowly up to 15-16 mph by departure time.
Skies: Partly cloudy until around 10am, then turning fair for the remainder of the day.
Environmental note: The first flocks of Sandhill Cranes headed back north were sighted on 02 Feb., just a tad earlier than usual.
I launched and found pre-sunrise birds working in strong numbers (both gulls and terns) from Area 296 down to Area 358. As I closely watched these birds, I could see they were sipping shad off the surface, but these shad were not driven to the top by gamefish.
I headed down to Area 99 and was pleasantly surprised to find small pods of gamefish both suspended at mid-depth and also suspended just off bottom over 24 to 35 feet over this entire area. I stopped to jig and struck out and also struck out after trying a downrigging approach with a White Willow and a Swimmin’ Image at staggered depths. Looking back, I should have gone with a smaller Pet Spoon, as I discovered later in the day the fish were keyed in on smaller forage.
After scratching my head on Area 99, I slipped over to the breakline at Area 356 and picked up one average white bass directly off bottom after seeing a small congregation of fish right on the slope. Nothing else was going on here, so I moved on.
I headed to the Area 294 complex and looked all over it, finding fish (albeit few of them) on the windward SSE edge of the feature in ~41 feet. I jigged for several minutes with only a short largemouth to show for the effort. I moved on.
I headed to Area 354. This area was somewhat sheltered. I saw several loons and a sprinkling of gulls and terns, as well as a bit of bait, structure and some gamefish in 41-43 feet here and so I stopped to jig, but found nothing.
I moved on to Area 355. I fished at the top of the breakline here at 37 feet and immediately got a suspended hybrid of about 4 pounds on a smoked TNT180 3/8 oz. slab. As I continued jigging, I also picked up 2 decent white bass, 1 short largemouth, and 1 small crappie here. These fish were at the top of the breakline in 37 feet and down to 41 feet. Although there were fish here, there was no indication of great numbers of fish. I paused and took a look around with the glass and found a strong flock of terns working in the distance.
I headed to Area 359 and found terns working over a 250 yard area. As I eased in on this activity, I found bait very scattered from top to bottom and regularly occurring wolfpacks of 2-8 fish hanging together and working over the bait. Long story short, I stayed on top of these fish during and well after the bird activity, and put 24 fish in the boat before things slowed to a crawl including 2 legal hybrid, 1 short hybrid, and 21 whites going right at 11.5 inches. Every single fish caught was suspended, in fact, I saw no fish signals appearing on bottom on sonar. These fish responded to the white 3/8 oz. TNT180, but responded even better to a chrome 1/8 oz. Rattle Snakie. Regardless, the fish were extremely finicky. I had to bring the slab from beneath the fish, stop it on the fishes’ nose, and then slowly begin raising it up to provoke a chase response. Occasionally, when a larger school of fish (4-8 in number) appeared on sonar. I could raise or lower the slab into the center of mass and the fish would hit it deadsticked. There was a brief period of enhanced activity from 11:30 to 11:45 when the fish began chasing a bit more quickly, but that ended quickly.
Around 12:20p, a renewed flurry of tern and gull activity appeared at between Areas 357 and 358. Long story short, I found fish both suspended and on bottom at between 24 and 41 feet. The best action came at about 26 feet down over 41 feet of water. Seeing how aggressively and frequently the terns were hitting the water prompted me to throw a horizontal blade bait. When I did, I found hybrid up high and whites down deeper. I landed 10 fish in short order including 3 legal hybrid and 7 twelve inch white bass. On several casts I had hooked fish come unbuttoned, only to have another fish pursue and be hooked indicating both a quantity of fish and that they were in an aggressive mood. As often happens with action that begins in bright conditions, this action didn’t last long. By 12:50p this action was over. I called it a day at that time after seeing the birds finally come to rest on the surface.
One note about equipment: I fish a variety of lightweight, fast moving baits presented horizontally (like cranks, traps, blade baits, and the like) and have searched a long time to find one rod to cover all of these applications. I’m now hooked on the Lamiglas IRFA703. This 7′ rod loads up and throws light baits long. The soft, fast tip gives toward the fish as they open their mouths to vacuum the bait back, thus preventing the misses caused by stiffer rods. The rod then has enough backbone in the lower section to close the deal but with enough flex in the top end to keep a skin-hooked treble from tearing out. I’m not big on looks, but this rod is pretty sharp.
TALLY = 41 FISH, all caught and released
Bob Maindelle, Owner, Holding The Line Guide Service and Kids Fish, Too! Stillhouse Hollow Fishing Guide, Belton Lake Fishing Guide, Lake Georgetown Fishing Guide, Walter E. Long (Decker) Lake Fishing Guide. Offering Salado Fishing, Killeen Fishing and Ft. Hood Fishing