This morning I fished with Tony Bagliore, owner of Bagliore Concrete, on our fifth trip together on Belton Lake this year.
Tony Bagliore with a just-legal hybrid taken from 39 feet of water on slabs as a approaching dry cold front brought westerly winds and good fishing today.
As the season progressed from spring through summer and now into fall, I introduced Tony to the particulars of live shad fishing (spring) and downrigging (early summer). This morning’s weather offered an excellent opportunity for yet another introduction, this time to multiple vertical techniques, including easing, jigging, and smoking.
Tony is a rare sort in that he is a middle-aged man who is still both eager to learn AND willing to be coached. Many middle-aged men think they are eager to learn, but are not willing to be coached and so never really actually learn (and then you have those that don’t want to learn or be coached — they usually get their fish at Red Lobster!). Anyway, this trip was originally scheduled for next Friday, but when I saw near-perfect weather conditions forecast less than 24 hours out, I suggested to Tony that we bump the trip up. Here again, instead of stubbornly sticking with “the plan”, he took his guide’s advice and benefited from it.
As we got going this morning, a mild, dry cold front was due to make its way into central Texas during the morning hours. We kind of “piddled” around for the first 30 minutes targeting some suspended fish with downriggers waiting for the skies to brighten and the wind to build. The only reason we didn’t start a bit later is because I had hoped some birds (terns and gulls) might have shown up with this week’s mid-week cold front, and such birds often begin working at first light. No birds yet, so, we downrigged, missing one fish on a tandem-rigged Pet Spoon setup trolled at 38 feet along a breakline between Area 511 and 1304.
By 7:15 I judged the clear skies to be bright enough for the deepwater bite I suspected would be turned on today to crank up. We headed out to graph our first area with sonar and were fortunate enough to find deep, concentrated fish on our first sonar pass. We buoyed these fish, set up on top of them with Spot Lock and went to work. We spent 3 hours on these fish, putting 53 in the boat, consisting of hybrid of all sizes up to 18″ and white bass of all sizes up to 13.25″. Over the course of our time spent over these fish, we used a smoking retrieve (primarily), an easing technique, and a jigging technique, all with TNT180 slabs in both 3/4 and 3/8 oz., and in both white and silver. The 3/4 oz. bait edged out the smaller version, and white and silver performed just about equally.
As the action at this first area began to decline (indicated by fish no longer responding to a smoking retrieve when they previously did so) we spent a few minutes searching elsewhere for more fish in a similar scenario (deep water on a bottom feature being wind-impacted). We found more fish almost immediately, and spent our final 30 minutes atop an aggressive school of fish that contributed another 23 fish to the count in short order. Mrs. B. gave us an 11:00am curfew so as to be on time for a wedding this afternoon, so, we “left ’em biting” at 10:45 and headed back in.
I enjoy all of my trips with all of my clients, but I particularly enjoy fishing with more advanced anglers because with the “basics” already under their belts, we are able to take full advantage of the opportunities the fish present. Such was the case with Tony. Although we both missed a few fish, we just about maximized the potential we had before us today.
One thing I did specifically to help Tony improve his own efforts when fishing from his own boat was to configure my sonar and position the two of us in the boat in a way he could replicate with his boat, trolling motor, and sonar setup. This placed us both in full view of my console-mounted sonar unit and allowed us both to observe our baits and the fishes’ reaction to them nearly 100% of the time. A lot of learning takes place by simply observing the sonar screen for an extended period of time.
For our efforts today, we boated exactly 76 fish, including 3 drum, 4 legal hybrid striper, and a mixed bag of 69 legal and short white bass and short hybrid striped bass.
TALLY = 76 FISH, all caught and released
Start Time: 6:45a
End Time: 10:45p
Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start: 48F
Water Surface Temp: 68.4F
Wind Speed & Direction: W7 at sunrise, slowing tapering up to NW14 by trip’s end
Sky Conditions: 10% clouds on a bluebird sky.
AREAS FISHED WITH SUCCESS:
**Area 551/1304 downrigging early
**Area 1325 (53 fish over ~3 hours)
**Area 1468 (23 fish over 0.5 hours)
Owner, Holding the Line Guide Service
254.368.7411 (call or text)