Easily Entertained! — Belton Hybrid Fishing, 8 Feb. 2014, 13 Fish

This morning I fished with Todd S. of Temple, joined by his dad, Dave, and his brother, Brian, both from the San Francisco Bay Area in California.  There were a number of weekend activities all coordinated by Todd’s wife, Lindsey, in celebration of Todd’s 39th birthday including lunch on Friday, a half-day off from work after that lunch, the surprise visit of Dave and Brian, an all-guys campout at Cedar Ridge Park on Belton, this morning’s fishing trip, and more to come!  Way to go in pulling that all off, Lindsey!

Happy Birthday, Todd!  Todd (L), Dave (C), and Brian (R) each hoist 2 of the 13 fish we boated on this first day of the last 5 where temperatures got out of the 30’s.

“The Boys”, with massive icicles hanging off the cliffs near the Belton Lake waterfall shown in the background.  Yes, it was that cold.

As Lindsey and I texted back and forth trying to keep the trip “under wraps”, I let her know that the fishing was going to be tough, but her “window of opportunity” was limited by the flight plans, etc.   When I told her we’d do our best but that our best may not add up to a mess of fish, she assured me the 3 men were “easily entertained”, and, indeed, they all confessed as much!

Fishing continued to be tough today, and will remain tough until we get our water temps back into the low 50’s.  We worked through a fishless 3+ hours today and then it happened.  Just as the grey murk of the morning began to clear and the orb of the sun became visible through the thinning cloud cover, birds started working over top of a large, mobile school of hybrid striped bass as those hybrid pushed shad forward and upward.  Our fishing took place over 30-40 feet of water with the fish suspended from 10 to 25 feet down beneath the surface.

This was an ideal situation for downriggers given that there was little timber to contend with.  We put crankbaits behind the balls and put the balls down over the fish and let the ‘riggers work their magic.  I kept the boat speed super slow by putting down the trolling motor to increase drag and trimming the engine up to reduce thrust.  We crawled along at 1.65 mph and scored consistently.

I noted 3 other boats in the area that came in on top of us as we began boating fish.  They all idled until they saw fish on sonar or saw diving birds or both and then stopped to jig vertically.  As we boated fish regularly we observed only 2 fish caught by the other 3 boats combined.  These fish were not on bottom and were not stationary, thus the downriggers were simply THE way to go during this short window when these fish were ready to feed.

The aggressive action lasted only 30 minutes, but we stuck around and fished them as the action tapered off for about another hour and continued to score, but much less frequently.

The one time we did stop to try a vertical presentation we caught 3 white bass and 1 hybrid by reeling our baits up into the fish as they showed on sonar.  We quickly realized we needed to cover ground if we were going to be successful, so, we put the jigging rods away and continued downrigging.

TALLY = 13 FISH, all caught and released



Start Time: 7:00a
End Time: 12:40p
Air Temp: 34F at trip’s start.
Water Surface Temp: 45.5-47.0F 
Wind: SSE10 at sunrise, tapering to S7 by 12:30p
Skies: 100% grey and cloudy until 10:35am, then clearing quickly to fair skies with 20% clouds
Other Notes: GT20

Areas Fished with success:

**  1333-1334 (30T)

Bob Maindelle
Holding the Line Guide Service


Salado, Texas