I fished a half-day morning trip on Belton today with returning guest Mr. Garland W., a retired architect, from Tyler, TX. Garland and his wife do a 5 week long RV road trip each year to different Texas lakes, culminating at Belton. We stacked the deck on this trip by waiting on good fishing weather. Fortunately Garland’s schedule and mine allowed us to look at the 5-6 day forecast and pinpoint the best time to be on the water. We passed on Mon. and Tue. as they were both, bright, calm days. Wednesday’s weather was pre-frontal SE winds, with warm air temperatures, a building breeze, and heavy cloud cover — just perfect!
With pre-frontal SE winds bringing cloud cover, warmth, and water movement in before a big cold front, the fish went on a 2 1/2 hour spree pursuing shad from top to bottom, and especially in the 27-34 foot band.
Start Time: 7:45a
End Time: 12:35p
Air Temp: 46F at trip start; 52 F by trip end
Surface temp: 50.8 to 51.2F
Winds: Calm at trip’s start, beginning SSE at 8-9 around 9:20, building quickly to 13-14 by 9:45, and leveling at 15-16 from 10:45 through trip’s end
Skies: 100% grey cover entire trip
As we got underway, the breeze had not yet kicked in and things were predictably slow until around 9:45. I commented to Garland as we fished over one particular area that “this place is going to light up if we get some wind in here.” We saw ample bait over 24-32 feet of water, and gamefish mixed in among the bait, but the fish were simply turned off and would only half-heartedly follow even our mostly lightly finnessed presentations.
Finally, around 9:20, we got a ripple pushed by a SSE breeze which quickly built to a 12-13 mph push. We motored back to the area where the bait and fish had shown clearly earlier in the morning and, beginning at Area 593 (BA: 45G) we began to show active fish on sonar both on bottom and suspended. For 2 hours and 45 minutes these fish remained active to some degree, but the first 30 minutes was by far the stongest feed. The area over which we found active fish was quite expansive, spreading from Area 593 to Area 594 to Area 031, to Area 591, and to Area 592.
Regardless of where the fish were located, the most active fish tended to be positioned between 27 and 34 feet, regardless of whether that depth range happened to be at bottom, or suspended over 40 to 50+ feet. Our approach was to simply slab for bottom-oriented fish with a bit of an extra pause between jigging strokes when fish were apparent on sonar. For suspended fish seen earlier in this feed, we were able to “smoke” those same slabs at a healthy pace and catch them. Later, as the feed began to wane, we reverted to “sniping” to pick off the few remaining active fish amidst a greater population of of inactive fish.
For our efforts today, we landed 66 fish including 1 drum, 9 hybrid stripers of which 4 were of legal size, and 56 white bass. Most of these white bass were right at 12 to 12.75 inches in length, with only 4 falling beneath the 10 inch mark. We wrapped up our trip around 12:35p as we realized the feed had ended. We knew we could continue to “snipe” addtional fish, but also knew that’d be anti-climactic after the spree we’d just witnessed.
We contemplated a trip the following day, but the forecast called for near 100% chances of rain with lightning, so, we agreed to just do it again next year as I bid Garland safe travels back home. One observation I made today was that despite the cold water, right at the beginning of the feed, hybrid were regularly making it to the surface and pinning large shad against it; I also noted that all of our hybrid were taken higher in the water column than the average white bass was, and that the hybrid appeared solo (not in schools) on sonar. Not a single hybrid was slabbed off bottom today.
TALLY = 66 Fish, all caught and released
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