Rancher, Soldier, Fisherman! — Belton Lake Fishing Guide Report, 01 April 2013

This morning I fished with Nolan E., a Montanan now living in Copperas Cove, and serving in the U.S. Army Transportation Corps as a logistician.

We had to work for every fish we caught today, but, by the time we came off the water we’d secured Nolan a legal limit of hybrid striped bass (5 fish, each 18+ inches), all caught and released. Nolan saved the best for last, catching this 3 3/8 pound hybrid just minutes before we wrapped up.

First off, Nolan is a genuinely nice fellow. He comes from a family of ranchers in central Montana and is a soft-spoken, very likeable young man. In fact, that is the very reason he and I fished together today. A few weeks back, Nolan found a used fishing boat on Craig’s List, and went to the Austin area to buy the boat from an older gentleman by the name of Mr. Jessie J. Jessie was so impressed with Nolan, his service to our country (multiple tours to Iraq), and his demeanor, that, unbeknownst to Nolan, he called me up after selling the boat and paid for a fishing trip for Nolan so he’d have some idea of how and where to use his new purchase. Who does that these days?!?

Nolan, a staff sergeant, met his wife (also in the U.S. Army) while in Iraq. Her family is originally from the Dominican Republic and now lives in Perth Amboy, New Jersey, which is just a few miles away from where I attended 5th – 10th grade, so, we had some things in common which made for fun conversation despite the slow bite today.

So, anyway, today was the day of that trip courtesy of Mr. Jessie J. I guess the National Weather Service wanted to pull and April Fools’ joke on all of us fishermen, and forecast an 8-9 mph NE wind with 30% cloud cover beginning before sunrise. What we got was a bright sky, and calm winds with no clouds until around 10am, and what breeze did finally blow blew light and variably from 2-4 mph from the N to the E. If you follow this blog, you’ll see time and time again for Belton and Stillhouse that calm, bright conditions are to be avoided as they always add up to tough fishing. Today was no exception.

So, we got dealt a bad hand on the weather, but we were persistent and methodically searched out small, lethargic groups of fish holding very tightly to the bottom using sonar while idling very slowly over large expanses of water, and we found fish. We put a lot of bait and a lot of chum in the water to stimulate the fish we found, and, in the end, put together a respectable catch of hybrid striped bass.

I’d given Nolan the option of fishing Stillhouse strictly for white bass with artificials, or using live shad on Belton for hybrid and he chose the quality over the quantity, so, our sights were set today on the hybrid.

We enjoyed limited success at several areas including: Area 473 (bait and slabs — white bass only), Area 815 (bait and slabs — white bass only), Area 187/954 (bait and slabs — white bass and hybrid on both), and Area 677 (bait only – whites bass, hybrid, and crappie).

Again, bait size seemed to make no difference, although the smaller baits seems to result in a greater strike:land ratio.

TALLY = 23 fish, all caught and released

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Start Time: 7:20a

End Time: 1:15p

Air Temp: 53F at trip’s start

Water Surface Temp: ~65-66F

Wind: Winds were light and variable 2-4 from N through E.

Skies: Skies were bright and clear until around 10a, with 30% cloud cover developing thereafter.