I welcomed Taylor T. and Matthew H. back aboard this blustery morning on Belton Lake. A cold front began pushing through around 5:30pm yesterday and steadily cooled and dried the atmosphere and shifted the winds to the NW.
The boys, both in middle school, had fished with me once previously during the warm months when we were mainly downrigging for white bass on Stillhouse. The boys departed from that trip figuring out how they could pool their resources and any birthday clout they might have to come out again with me. I told them at that time that no two trips are alike, and especially if they occur in different seasons. And so it was, this trip was very different from the one they’d experienced previously.
Taylor (L) and Matt (R) with a nearly twin pair of hybrid striped bass that nailed our slabs as we worked over a near-surface school of hybrid forcing shad to the surface in open water.
The boys arrived a bit early, so, we got reacquainted with the equipment while waiting on the sun to rise (which seems to kick things in gear this time of year).
As the sun rose, we spotted fish feeding near the surface and could see large shad (4+ inches) trying to escape the gamefish driving them to the surface, as well as the splashes the gamefish made as the reached the surface and turned back quickly (BA: 24HG). This action began at Area 023, then another burst of activity erupted at Area 027. This school of fish was spread in quite a lengthy ellipse all the way back to between Areas 014 and 016. During the 75 minute span that these fish stayed active, we caught them with 3/4 oz. TNT 180 slabs, with large swimbaits, and 3/4 oz. Cicadas. Regardless of the lure, we counted them down from the surface to about 3/4 of the depth of the water we were in and then did a quick, straight retrieve. These fish were mostly hybrid striped bass from 16 to 19 inches, with occasional smaller hybrid and white bass mixed in. The boys boated 24 fish during this spree.
Once this near-surface action died, we moved to just NW of Area 024 and vertically jigged for 2 more keeper hybrid. By this time Matt’s hands were too cold to handle the reel any longer, so, we switched over to downrigging and boated 3 more fish (1 keeper hybrid and 2 keeper white bass) on large Pets.
When the action in this vicinity died for good, we set out to look for some white bass that we could jig for and found fish at two areas: 686 and 688. Both areas offered the same fishing — smallish white bass and hybrid that would get very briefly excited at the appearance of our slabs for the first few drops, and then quickly lose interest. Between these two areas the boys boated an additional 15 fish by around 10:45, including a keeper largemouth for Matthew. After this time, the fishing really got tough, and, by 11:25 after giving 2 more areas a try with the slabs and after downrigging a bit more in hopes of scratching up just one more active fish amongst all of the inactivity, we called it a great day.
The boys recalled that we’d boated 34 fish on our previous trip, so, with 44 boated this morning, and many of them legal hybrids, this trip saw an improvement in both quality and quantity. The boys left understanding what I meant when I told them no two trips are alike.
I want to congratulate both boys on making the middle school basketball team this week. I guess fish are the only things they can put in a net!!
TALLY = 44 FISH, all caught and released
Start Time: 6:45a
End Time: 11:20a
Air Temp: 42F at trip’s start.
Water Surface Temp: ~66.7F
Wind: Winds were NW at 9 at sunrise, increasing to NNW17 by trip’s end.