This Labor Day Saturday I fished with fishing buddies and Army buddies Blake Boutwell and Randy Durrence. Both are noncommissioned officers stationed at Fort Hood, each with eight years of service to the nation.
Blake Boutwell with 2 of the 52 fish we had to work for today. We stayed long and fished hard, but wound up with a full 25 fish limit for both he and his fishing buddy, Randy.
Randy Durrence caught our largest two white bass today, both 4-year old fish going between 14-15 inches long with a healthy girth.
Blake has two children, ages 2 & 5, and is originally from near Ft. Rucker, Alabama. Randy has two older chilidren and is from Jacksonville, FL. This was a great day for them, as they not only got to fish, but college football season for their Alabama and Florida teams kicks in today. They were like kids in a candy store!!
I specifically chose to avoid Belton Lake today anticipating heavy recreational traffic, and given that the only solid action I found during a scouting run earlier this week was early-morning top water action, which is easily put down by careless (clueless or inconsiderate) boaters. As I arrived at the boat ramp around 6:20, there were only 3 other boats in the launching process, and this on a 4-day holiday weekend with nice weather; by comparison, this is less traffic than would be associated with even a small bass tournament. Things were looking good already!
As we got going this morning, the winds were calm and we had some substantial cloud cover, thus the bite got off to a slow and late start. We picked up a few fish down rigging in the vicinity of area 1419, then moved on, picking up a few more fish along a deepwater breakline both buy downrigging and vertical jigging, but this action was pretty light.
We moved once again and at this third area as we arrived found largemouth bass popping shad on the surface, which got our hopes up, at that is typically a sign of increasing or high fish feeding activity. Although we did catch a few more white bass here by way of downrigging, the fish we saw were few and far between, and not schooled together heavily. They were also near bottom and not suspended up off bottom indicating a less aggressive feeding posture. It did not help that what light breeze had begun to blow not completely stopped, leaving the surface glassy. We moved on. During this ~30 minute pause in the fishing action, most other fishing boats we saw packed it in.
At our final stop of the day we returned to that same deep breakline we had contacted fish on earlier. As we arrived, more schooling largemouth were popping shad on the surface, so we began working the area over with blade baits cast horizontally to no effect. We went back to downrigging and put the vast majority of our fish in the boat in the last 90 minutes of this trip, which I extended by 60 minutes. There was next to no fishing pressure now present on the lake as the hot, humid, windless conditions just about cleared the lake, and the recreational crowd (skiers, tubers, etc.) had yet to arrive.
During this time we continuously passed over well-consolidated, suspended schools of white bass and nearly every time we passed over a school we would pick up at least one fish, and often wound up with doubles, as well as two triples. Fortunately, these fish were all in the three year class, so not only were they abundant, but they were good size for Stillhouse white bass.
Long story short, persistence paid off for us in the last 90 minutes during which time we more than doubled our catch and put the larges fish of the trip in the boat. We finished up the trip today with exactly 52 fish boated, including 51 white bass and one largemouth bass. All but one fish came on the downriggers outfitted with Pet Spoons on 3-arm umbrella rigs.
TALLY = 52 FISH
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Start Time: 7:00am
End Time: 12:00 noon
Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start: 75F
Water Surface Temp: 85.8F
Wind Speed & Direction: Calm to SSE3
Sky Conditions: Fair skies with no cloud cover.
AREAS FISHED WITH SUCCESS:
**Area 1437-1438 no results
**Area 1435-1436 minimal results on downrigger
**Area 863/864 single fish on multiple downrigger passes and 1 fish via jigging, slow action
**Area 1222 through 1231 light action with largemouth just beginning to feed on top with white bass moderately schooled and suspended
**Area 041 to 864 to 863 to 1134 — best action of the day from 10:30a to noon on aggressive, well-coalesced white bass suspended at 31-33 feet over a breakline.
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