This morning I fished with fishing buddies Cindy S. and Kathy W. of Austin. We were faced with cold-front conditions, but worked through it to put together a nice catch today.
Cindy took this big boy on a downrigged Pet Spoon. We had to move, move, move today to keep up with the fish and downrigging gave us an edge on this mobile fish.
Kathy slabbed this hybrid up out of 40+ feet of water just as our bite was about to die today.
Cindy works at the University of Texas in Austin, and Kathy works at BAE in Austin on a military system that enhances survivability for our troops downrange. The two braved the elements and camped out at the Westcliff campground on Belton Lake overnight in advance of our trip this morning.
Our cold front came in around 10am yesterday with cloud cover and ~20mph winds. Overnight, the winds settled and the skies cleared to drop the temperature 20 degrees down to 41F. As we began our trip, a ~9mph NNW wind remained, which was enough to move the water and thus the fish still fed albeit tentatively.
We found some bird activity, but, instead of dipping down to the water to feed on shad in a handful of areas, the birds traveled long and fed briefly, traveled long and fed briefly, and so on. This indicated that 1) the fish were really moving (something we also clearly observed on sonar), and 2) that the gamefish, although pursuing shad, were not pursuing them all the way to the surface where the birds could take advantage of them.
For these reasons, we found downrigging to be much more effective than jigging today as it allowed us to get baits in front of more fish than we could by simply sitting in one spot waiting for these fast-moving schools to roam beneath us. We did pick up a few fish on slabs by “smoking”, but could only boat 2-3 at a time before the fish would move off or lose interest.
We fished primarily a crescent-shaped region from Area 152, thru Area 672, and east to Area 1144.
A brief “spurt” of bird/fish action occurred a between Area 715/081, but was immediately mobbed with boats due to the visible birds, so, we forewent that mess to find fish without birds working over them so as to avoid the fleet of “weekend warriors”.
We found fish in and around Areas 930/1012 and put our last fish of the trip in the boat from off of this area. By this time the wind had gone all but slack and the fish had really slowed down. We changed over to a slabbing approach to give the fish a good, long look at our baits, and this worked well for us.
Cindy and Kathy have made a number of attempts at fishing in the past in both saltwater and fresh, but none so productive as this trip. They were eager learners and came prepared with a number of good questions not just concerning tactics we employed, but tactics they could employ on their own outings. I tried to completely answer these questions for them, as well as provide some casting lessons/coaching at the end of our trip to help enhance their success in the future.
TALLY = 29 Fish, all caught and released, including 5 legal hybrid stripers, 7 short hybrid stripers, and 17 white bass
Start Time: 7:00a
End Time: 12:00a
Air Temp: 41F at trip’s start.
Water Surface Temp: 63.5F
Wind: NNW9 at trips start, slowly and steadily tapering to calm by 11:15.