Ryan, Ben, and a Boatload of Hybrid, Belton Lake, 07 April 2012

This morning I conducted a fishing trip under the Ft. Hood “SKIES” program and put two young men whose dad is serving in Afghanistan on the water in search of the mighty hybrid striped bass!!

Ben boated this outsized 7.00 pound hybrid in the closing hour of our trip. This is one of 7 keeper (18+ inch) hybrid he boated today.

Ryan held up his end of the deal putting exactly 7 of his own keeper hybrid in the boat. This one taped out at 19.25″.

Ryan (12) and Ben (10) are the sons of Chief Warrant Officer (CW5) and Mrs. William B. of Ft. Hood. William is currently serving at Camp Marmal, Afghanistan with the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade.

I had planned a morning of live shad fishing on the heels of a great trip yesterday, but, the shad had other plans.

If you’ve ever spent much time chasing after shad, you know it can be the fishing trip before the fishing trip. There is a narrow window of time to catch these little critters — too early and you just “nickel and dime” three or four at a time, too late and you might as well be throwing your net in the Sahara. I finally got a bit of bait but then wound up with nothing but short fish hitting in two different areas (two 8″ hybrid, and two 11 inch white bass), Area 1019 and Area 814. Other boats within seeing distance were doing about the same.

By 10am, we knew we needed a new plan, so, with the wind picking up and much of the weekend traffic departing because of it, I was able to cover some ground using downriggers with large baits. We were going to try to make this a quality versus quantity affair with the boys’ permission.

This gamble definitely paid off. Most times with kids aboard I focus on quantity to keep their hands and minds engaged and to contend with short attention spans, but, these boys had a “go for it” mentality when I mentioned big fish, so off we went.

In our last two hours of fishing, both boys boated 7 keeper hybrid each — 14 keepers total. These fish were very, very loosely schooled and were holding just about a foot off the bottom in 25-27 feet of water between Areas 1069 and 812. We ran our baits at 2 feet and at 4 feet above the bottom (thus 1 and 3 feet above the fish).

The best of the bunch was little brother Ben’s 7.00 pound hybrid, weighed on a certified scale. I measured it for submission as a catch-and-release record, but it fell 1/8 inch shy of the 25″ minimum for this category.

By 11:45, the time we’d agreed upon with mom to be back at the dock, Ryan’s fish count stood at 9 and Ben’s at 8. We called mom for a 15 minute extension! Mom gracefully granted the request and took little sister to Sonic while she awaited our return. 7 minutes into borrowed time Ben stuck and landed his 9th fish of the day. So, there we ended it — even Steven, 9 fish per brother.

TALLY = 18 FISH, all caught and released

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Start Time: 7:30a

End Time: 12:00 noon

Air Temp: 66F at trip’s start.

Water Surface Temp: 73.2F

Wind: Winds were ESE at 8, increasing to SE13.

Skies: Skies were foggy, then cleared around 8:45a to partly cloudy.