Persistence Paid Off – Belton Lake, 21 Feb. 2011, 32 Fish

I fished from sun up to sun down today with returning guest Ryan S. of Temple. Ryan is 3 years into his residency at Scott & White and as a result, doesn’t have a whole lot of free time on his hands so it was nice that he chose to spend a bit of it on the water with me. I had let him know beforehand that the fishing had been hit or miss of late and that we’d been catching smallish fish, but, I think he was so ready to get out and do some fishing that he would have come no matter what the report was. A bit of piscatorial therapy was the doctor ordered, so to speak.

As we got to talking over the course of the day, Ryan told me he enjoys challenges. Well, today was a challenge!!

No trophies to report today — we were happy to find what we found and enjoy not being at the office while we found it!!

Things started out pretty promising. We fished under some tentative bird action near Area 389 and Ryan had 3 hits but we didn’t capitalize on those.

We moved on to some deeper water at a breakline at Area 211 and found some good looking sonar returns. We buoyed, fished, and immediately began catching fish, boating 15 fish (a mix of smallish white bass and juvenile hybrid) on slabs in short order. As the overcast conditions gave way to clear skies and diminishing winds, the fishing stopped almost immediately. We ran sonar in ever-widening circles around the area we’d just fished and there was nothing to be found — no shad, no gamefish, just nothing.

We then struggled between 9am and 4pm to put together anything resembling a pattern as the winds grew calmer and the skies got brighter. Finally, after a sudden wind shift from calming SE winds, a NW breeze began at the lead edge of the cold front which brought in our first sub-50F temps in over a week. No sooner did that breeze kick in than we both boated a white bass while sniping over 40 feet of open water north of Area 412.

Later, we flatline trolled for one suspended white just to the west of Area 378.

By now it was approaching 4:30p and, despite the wind shift, we found no useful bird activity nor any helpful sonar reading despite traveling far and wide looking for both.

We changed venues and went looking for fish in the lower end of the lake.

We finally found a school of bottom-hugging white bass right on top of Area 579. We got slabs down among them and brought in 14 fish in short order including 12 white bass, 1 crappie, and 1 largemouth, thus nearly doubling our day’s catch in the last 30 minutes of the trip. these fish quit at around 6pm. We then began to see numbers of terns patrolling over 25-30 feet of water in some likely fish-holding areas, but, nothing materialized before sunset and both we and the birds went home to roost wishing we’d seen a little more today than we did.

I mentally rated this as a below average day, especially given our week-long warming trend and the fact that we had a wind shift in advance of a cold front. The front did not come in with the classic strong S. wind, gradually transitioning to SW, W, then NW winds, rather, the light SE winds died for quite some time, then suddenly gusted from the NW only to slowly build in afterwards.

I half-kiddingly told Ryan as we parted ways that I was glad to provide him with a half-day trip, only I regretted it took a full day to do it!

Such is fishing. Yes, it was a challenge, but, it is the challenge that keeps you coming back for more and trying to figure out why, when you think you’ve put it all together, you really didn’t have it all put together!

TALLY = 32 FISH, all caught and released

Today’s Conditions:

Start Time: 7:15a

End Time: 6:20

Starting Air Temp: 64F

Water Surface Temp: 53-54F

Wind: SSE9 at sunrise slowly tapering to SE2, then shifting at 2pm to NW6 and increasing to NW9 by sunset

Skies: Completely overcast until ~9:30, then fair the remainder of the day

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