“Guy Time” with Kayleigh and Maddisen, Stillhouse, 47 Fish, 06 April

This Friday evening found me on the water with Miss Maddisen and Miss Kayleigh S. of Killeen, accompanied by their soon-to-graduate high school brother, Brandon.

Sisters Maddisen (L) and Kayleigh (R) both did very well over top of a school of aggressive white bass, each landing their share of the 44 fish we boated along a breakline.

Kayleigh got big fish honors tonight, literally! She earned a TPWD “Big Fish Award” for boating this white bass that measured exactly 15 1/8 inches.

We’d been trying to coordinate this trip for quite some time now but Shannan (the kids’ mom) and I just couldn’t seem to sync our schedules until now.

In my role as Children’s Pastor at my church in Killeen (Memorial Baptist Church) I try to keep an eye on those kids in our congregation without a full-time dad in their lives. This situation is often brought about by death or divorce, and so I regularly set aside “Guy Time” to spend just with these kids. Tonight’s trip was a “Guy Time” fishing trip!

As we launched, I reviewed the basics of boat safety, how to summons help, and some fishing tackle basics. Then, a chance to be a Good Samaritan arose! It seems an older gentleman from Minnesota now living in Salado had launched his small boat at the ramp we had used and, as he went to park his vehicle and trailer, his boat floated away from shore and was about 120 yards away by the time we caught up with it. We did a side-to-side “transfer” of the man and his little dog; his old Evinrude 2-stroke fired right up, and we headed our separate ways.

We looked over Area 121 with sonar first. I saw a few fish on bottom at the extreme E. end of the feature, so, we e-anchored and set out some live baits (shad) and let things settle down a bit. We picked up a single white bass here, but no more promising signs were apparent, so we moved on.

Next, we looked over the stretch of water from Area 429 to 430 and found fish on the N. facing slope right on Area 429 in 20-22 feet of water. Again, I e-anchored but this time we got slabs down to the fish and began “smoking” these lures to try to tempt the white bass. The fish responded well, and in less than 40 minutes we boated 44 white bass with several more missed. These fish were healthy and averaged 12.5″, with one tipping the tape at 15 1/8″, which qualified Kayleigh for a “Big Fish” award from Texas Parks and Wildlife. These fish turned off rather abruptly, which is typically a sign that some threatening predator fish (big largemouth or gar) has moved into the area. Regardless, the action was not to be revived, forcing us to move once again.

I looked over several areas and ran some flatlined baits out over the 10-14 foot flat in the vicinity of Area 1062, hoping white bass would come shallow to feed as the sun began to set. We only saw a few fish on sonar over this whole area, picking up one channel catfish that decided he needed to try to swallow a RipShad crankbait.

We moved on and came to rest at Area 145 after seeing fish suspended at about 17 feet. Sunset was drawing near and little fish activity or bird activity was evident, indicating to me that we’d seen the best of the night’s action already. So, we put down 4 tightlines with live shad and just “chilled out” having some snacks and talking while keeping our eyes on the rods for a bite. We had 2 hits, missed one, and landed a 12″ suspended crappie on the other. The sun was now set and mom’s minivan was seen at the boatramp, so, we called it a day there and then with the girls having boated 47 fish for their “Guy Time” efforts.

TALLY = 47 Fish, all caught and released

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Start Time: 4:30p

End Time: 8:00p

Air Temp: 81F at trip’s start.

Water Surface Temp: 72.3F.

Wind: Winds ESE8.

Skies: Fair and 40% clouded.

Los Angeles Smells a Little Fishy!! 61 Fish, Belton Lake, 02 April 2012

This morning I welcomed “Grandpa” Dolph M. of Austin, and three of his grandchildren on Spring Break from Los Angeles, California — Cade (11), Rowan (11), and Evan (9).

I love it when the little guy catches the big one! It’s just an American thing to root for the underdog!!

Cade about wore a blister on his reeling hand getting this one in the boat!!

Rowan and her Grandpa Dolph landed these fish at the exact same time — in fact, we had a number of doubles and triples today when the action got hot and heavy.

I was on the lake before first light to net live shad and did just fine at that chore (which is not always the case!) pulling about ~95 baits in 15 throws at Area 499.

Dolph and the kids joined me around 6:45a and we headed out hunting for fish. We looked for bird action and on sonar for evidence of feeding fish, but found most of the bird action was focused on small patches of spawning shad here and there with little in the way of gamefish found nearby. The shoreline from Area 133 to Area 014 was particularly active.

I worked a circuit in and around Area 027 with the downriggers resulting in 1 short hybrid coming on my White Willow spoon and no takers on the umbrella rig. Same thing at Area 147 — 1 short hybrid on the White Willow.

Things then got really quiet for about an hour and a half we check a number of areas without success.

Finally, I spotted some bird action right on top of Area 1066 at the transition from 25 to 30′. We got the boat in position and prepared to fish with our live bait. The first few fish we caught came right off the bottom. Slowly, as we began to pull more and more fish in and as we kept the chum going, we saw the fish get higher and higher in the water column until we were fishing 4-5 cranks off bottom.

The fishing was essentially non-stop for about 2.5 hours during which time we landed 59 fish on our ~95 baits. Fortunately, Grandpa Dolph is an old salt with experience from around the Channel Islands off the California coast, so, he helped out in retying hooks, baiting up, etc., and that definitely improved our catch by keeping baits in the water to the greatest extent we could.

Our catch included an 80/20 mix of hybrid/white bass, with one crappie thrown in for good measure. Only one white bass was short, and, of the hybrid we boated, 8 were legal with the largest measuring exactly 23 inches and weighing 5.25 pounds. We also had one smallmouth hooked, but after an athletic leaping display at boatside, he found freedom before he found the bottom of the net!

By 11:50 the fish were thinning out and the bait was gone so we battened down the hatches for a bumpy ride back to the dock and said our farewells.

TALLY = 61 FISH, all caught and released

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Start Time: 6:45a

End Time: 12:00 noon

Air Temp: 70F at trip’s start.

Water Surface Temp: 68.9F

Wind: Winds were SSE8-11 for the entire trip.

Skies: Skies were heavy grey and 100% cloudy until 9am, then slowly cleared to 30% cloudy with a fair blue sky by trip’s end.

Environmental Note: Since the heavy rain of 20 March, Belton rose ~9 feet, and went ~6 feet above full pool, prompting a release of ~4600-4700 cfs for about a week now. The threadfin shad spawn began in earnest ~28 March.

Other Notes: Received a very reliable report of white bass and mostly short hybrid coming out of 25′ from the vicinity of Area 1067, also on shad, begun by chumming and then keeping the feed going with bait.