Pre-Frontal Fishing on Belton, 73 Fish (A.M. Trip) , 22 Dec. 2011

This morning I met up with long-time clients Mark L. and his 5th grade son, Garrison. The two were accompanied by grandpa “Gramps” Chet visiting from Canada. We fished on Belton Lake for a shot at some hybrid striped bass.

Mark and Garrison pose with Mark’s biggest fish ever caught!

(L to R) Chet, Garrison, and Mark all kept their jigging technique consistent and the white bass responded once the winds picked up.

Garrison was tickled about catch two fish at a time on the umbrella rig!!

Mark and I were back and forth by text and e-mail for about a week trying to nail down a good fishing day based on weather before settling on this time and date. With front after front coming down and no stability in the weather, the forecasters have a tough time getting it right more than a day or two out.

This morning’s starting conditions were tough, with clearing skies following a decent rain event the night before, and with near calm conditions.

Prior to our start this morning I watched birds work over Area 998 for about 15-20 minutes, but, by the time we got to them, the fish had dissipated.

We took advantage of the still low light levels around sunrise time and began searching shallow. We found fish between Areas 709 and 437, but after stopping to try slabbing for them 3 separate times and coming up with nothing, I decided we needed to downrig to get our baits in front of a lot of inactive fish hoping to find a few willing biters among them. We set up first with a silver Pet Spoon and a White Willow on separate ‘riggers. The White Willow seemed to get the nod from the fish, so, we changed both rods over to the White Willow. We just about wore a hole in the water between Areas 709 and 437, but picked up a fish on just about every pass, taking our tally up to 14 fish. Garrison was very curious about the umbrella rig that I had on board and have begun experimenting with, so, after boating a few fish for each person, we tied the umbrella rig on and began using it behind the downrigger. We caught 1 white bass on our first pass, then, to Garrison’s delight, we caught a double on our second pass (2 white bass). Later, Chet picked up a yellow cat as we ran the rig near bottom. In all, we boated 18 fish in about 2 hours’ time under these bright, windless conditions, all on downriggers.

Around 9:45, a westerly wind began to blow at around 6mph. I gave it about 15-20 minutes to see if it would be consistent, and it was. We made a move to Area 968/983 which was being impacted by this wind, and I found fish on sonar along the breakline here. We made a number of “short hops” all in this general vicinity along the break, and very quickly added 48 fish to our tally — all white bass, and most smallish, but the action was welcome and the fact that these fish responded to a slabbing technique was icing on the cake, especially with a youngster aboard.

Around noon this area had played out and we began to make our way back in. Since we got off to a slow start, I decided to extend the trip a bit, so we made one last stop at Area 1000. We found one very tightly bunched school of white bass here — so tightly bunched, in fact, that one side of the boat produced and one side did not (with boat width and rod length considered, that’s about 13 feet apart which goes to show how loathe fish are to move about when the feeding window shuts).

By 1pm or so we’d done all we were going to do and called it a day with exactly 73 fish boated including white bass, hybrid stripers (one of which was Mark’s largest fish ever caught to date), and a single yellow cat.

TALLY = 73 FISH, all caught and released

Start Time: 7:45a

End Time: 1:00p

Air Temp: 47F at trip’s start.

Water Surface Temp: 56.0F.

Wind: Winds were near calm at sunrise, with a marked increase to W6 from 10:00 to 12:00.

Skies: Skies were fair and cloudless.

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