The conditions were near-calm and overcast, which usually bodes well for topwater action this time of year, so, we spent some time at first light looking for just that. We found pods of smallish white bass scattered all over feeding strictly on young of the year shad. Were we equipped with fly gear in order to imitate these 3/4″ long fry we’d have done well. As it was, even the smallest lures we could use and still span the distance from boat to fish was too large and got largely ignored. We managed 3 white bass on Cicadas, but it was anything but consistent.
We searched with sonar near and far and found precious little as the winds remained near calm — always a tough hand to be dealt on Belton. Knowing that we were looking at a tough bite, I stopped and dropped baits in a few areas with scant fish showing, knowing that when fish are in a negative mood, you often don’t see much on sonar as the fish just sulk with belly-to-bottom.
Occasionally we’d see a school of white bass pop up and we’d chase them to see if they were locked on to bait large enough to imitate, but, today was always the same with the fish keyed in only on tiny shad.
Tony recently equipped his own boat with downriggers, so, I took him through the paces on rigging these correctly to give him confidence and reduce his learning curve; we did not, however, draw any strikes on our tandem or triple rigs equipped with Pet Spoons.
Between the 5th and 6th hour of this 4 hour trip persistence finally paid off. I told Greg and Tony that I stuck with it this long only because I believed the fish had never entered into a feeding “window” at all this morning and that, despite the late hour, I felt the fish could still turn on. Had the fish fed even briefly in the first 4 hours of the morning, I would have bet they were done by now. So, we persisted … and were rewarded.
At 11:15, in 40-45 feet of water as I idled over a break line, I saw several sonar signatures indicating hybrid were in the vicinity. We quickly got setup over these fish and got large gizzard shad baits down to them. The response was fast — 3 of four rods went down right away, and, for the next 10 minutes rods kept getting pulled down and fish kept coming up. When this short “burst” was over, we enjoyed much slower acton for another 50 minutes until finally, sonar was clean and the bite was done.
In this end-of-trip frenzy, we boated another 15 fish, including one white bass, one ~13 inch blue cat, one 24″ channel cat, and 12 legal hybrid striped bass.
Such is summertime hybrid fishing.