The Aggie Girls Gigged ‘Em — 43 Fish — Belton Lake — 28 Dec. 2011

This morning I welcomed sisters Grace and Mattie H. of Friendswood, TX, aboard, accompanied by their grandfather, “Pepaw” D. The girls are both students at Texas A&M — Grace in her senior year and Mattie in her sophomore year.

Mattie got us off to a great start by landing the trip’s largest fish for our first fish of the trip, a 4.75 pound hybrid striped bass.

(L to R) Mattie, Pepaw D., and Grace all got the hang of vertical jigging and the fish cooperated until around 10:45 when our wind let up and the skies brightened.

As we got going this morning we spotted some bird activity but, as we got closer, we were disappointed to find that the birds (mostly terns) were feeding on shad that were at the surface feeding, not shad that were driven to the surface by gamefish.

We moved on continuing to look for birds but found none that led us to fish. We got lines in the water at a patch of water between Areas 691 and 437. At this time the winds were still light, so, we went with a downrigging approach to cover lots of water to strain out a few active fish from amongst a lot of inactive fish. We wound up boating 1 hybrid and 7 white bass, all on White Willow spoons, prior to the start of a S. wind. As we downrigged, I could see plenty of scatted, bottom-hugging fish in this area and thought it wise to stay here until some wind started to see if that would get these fish in gear.

As the wind began to ramp up, the fishing followed suit. We switched over to vertical jigging at this point and “hopped” here and there as I found small schools of fish congregated together in 19 to 27 feet throughout the area we had just downrigged over. Fish came in spurts as we moved and hovered, moved and hovered, and so on. We boated a total of 20 fish here via jigging, taking our tally to 28 by the time we left.

We next headed to Area 692 and found a solid school of white bass at 19-20 feet deep off the point here. We boated 7 fish in short order before the school shut down.

We next headed to Area 961, this time finding fish at 24-26 feet deep. We jigged these fish with the same 3/4 oz. TNT 180’s that we’d used all morning, and put another 6 fish (1 largemouth and 5 white bass) in the boat here. It was while we were fishing this area that the winds went nearly slack and we lost the last of our cloud cover. The fishing nosedived pretty quickly thereafter.

We tried one more time at Area 1000 and boated 2 small white bass. Sonar showed the fish returned to a bottom-hugging, scattered orientation, just as they had been when the bite was slow before the winds began at the beginning of our trip.

We were now at the tail end of the morning’s feeding bell curve and had a total of 43 fish to show for our morning’s efforts.

The girls had fished before at church camp and at a family outing to Port Mansfield years ago and retained a lot of skills, especially when it came to using spinning gear, so that really helped today. Winter fishing can be very productive when the weather is right, but the fishing is always more technical then in warm water conditions. Nearly every trip between now and mid-March will involved a lot of vertical jigging. Regardless of the species you most prefer to fish for, this is the time to get well-practiced at vertical jigging. Winter offers a lot of opportunities to fish for abundant white bass, so, even if you are a black bass fisherman, the skills you’ll learn on a winter jigging trip will translate directly to other species. If you need a little coaching on this technique, consider booking a trip. It will be a good investment.

TALLY = 43 FISH, all caught and released

Start Time: 7:45a

End Time: 11:15a

Air Temp: 41F at trip’s start.

Water Surface Temp: 53.0F.

Wind: Winds were light and southerly at launch time, building only to S5 by mid-morning, then tapering to S2-3 by trip’s end.

Skies: Skies were 70% cloudy at trip’s start clearing to fair and cloudless by 10:45a.

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