This morning I welcomed returning guests Mark L. of Round Rock, and his son, Garrison aboard. This trip was a birthday present for Garrison who just turned 9. Garrison chose two lucky buddies to come along with him — Sean M. and Chase D.
Garrison L.’s pending Jr. Angler Belton Lake Record Blue Catfish!!
I was very concerned about our odds today and expressed this to Mark by phone on my Thursday night “check in” call. We saw pre-frontal conditions make for some great fishing on Wednesday, followed by the passage of a mild cold front on Friday, so today’s Saturday trip was immediately post-frontal. Fish behave oddly after a cold front’s passage, so it was tough to predict what was going to happen. The boys had been so excited for so long, there wasn’t any stopping that momentum, so we decided to go ahead with the trip and, when all was said and done, we’d done better than I expected we might.
The first positive sign was the appearance of some light on and off topwater action right at (obscured) sunrise. Small schools of white bass fed on and near the top for about 35 minutes between Area 663 and 412. Although this was not strong or sustained, it was evidence of gamefish on the move and that was a good sign given the conditions. All three boys broke the ice here by landing a white bass … in fact we left here just after 8am with 5 fish boated and the boys now over the learning curve that comes with casting from a moving boat.
Next it was on to Area 437 and to the NE of it for some downrigging. We found ample bait here, but gamefish were a bit sparse. We boated 2 short hybrid, and 2 white bass on P12’s and P13’s … and then it happened. We took a swing a bit N and E of the track we’d been downrigging on and our “big” rod set up with a hybrid-sized bait went wild, springing free of the downrigger release clip. It was Garrison’s turn to man the rod, so he gripped it for all he was worth and began reeling. I thought we were into a hybrid, so, I just turned the boat downwind, asked one of the other boys to reel up the downrigger ball, and I stood ready with the net awaiting a glimpse of Garrison’s fish. When the fish finally neared the surface, we all said, “Whoa!” at the same time. Our “hybrid” was a nice blue catfish that decided he needed to feed on a big ol’ bait going 3+ miles per hour. A quick check of the records chart (that I always keep onboard) showed this fish would qualify for the Jr. Angler lake record at 3.75 pounds and 21 7/8 inches. After the excitement abated, we got back to fishing, but the fish had done all they were going to do here.
We moved on to Area 365 and I trolled a series of staggered ellipses over the N. facing slope at Area 365. Sonar was just lit up with suspended white bass and hybrid from 22 to 27 feet deep over a slightly deeper bottom. We got baits down and started catching fish with consistency. We boated an additional 10 fish (7 white bass, 2 short hybrid, 1 largemouth)in about an hour’s time and could have kept right on taking them, but, by now the boys’ interest in this method was waning and their curiosity about sunfishing (something I’d mentioned early in the day) was growing, so we shifted gears and pursued the mighty sunfish.
We hit just one area (Area 508) and covered it thoroughly. In about 45 minutes’ time the boys boated 22 fish including a mix of 20 sunfish (green sunfish, longears, and bluegill) and 2 blacktail shiners. There’s just something about that float being pulled under the water’s surface by a living thing that really connects with kids.
By nearly noon (we fished a little longer than normal for a kids’ trip) the boys were beginning to fade and Mark and I decided this was a good time to call it a day. We boated a total of 42 fish on this trip and the boys all headed home happy campers.
TALLY = 42 FISH, all caught and released
Start Time: 6:50am
End Time: 1:40pm
Air Temperature at Trip’s Start: 74F
Water Surface Temperature: 85.6F
Winds: Variable due to T-storm outflow to the N. and SE breeze in advance of an approaching front
Skies: 60-100% cloud cover with grey cast to the skies.