This Saturday morning I fished with Mr. Ben Vacula , his father Dennis, and Ben’s three children, Madeline, Olivia, and Gabriel. We fished Belton Lake for white bass, hybrid striper, and panfish.
From left: Gabriel, Olivia, and Madeline Vacula, each with a strong, healthy Lake Belton white bass taken from a topwater feed in the first hour on the water.
Olivia, who holds the Stillhouse Junior Angler flathead catfish record, and seems to have a knack for catching the big ones, landed the trip’s largest fish today, once again.
Ben makes his living as an anesthesiologist at Scott & White Hospital, Dennis is retired from the Texas Public Utilities Commission, and the kids are all just headed into a new school year in the Belton ISD.
We met at 6:30 AM, and by 6:46 AM were witnessing the first of what would be one hour’s worth of top water action. A combination of white bass and small hybrid striped bass were forcing bait to the surface and feeding on that bait there in a way that was both visible and audible. Because I had three anglers, all of them inexperienced with casting, instead of casting at these fish, we ran downriggers in the vicinity, and also ran one umbrella rig just barely subsurface. All three rigs performed equally well, and by the time the top water action shutdown, we had boated 28 fish.
Around 8 AM, we ran into the mid-morning lull which has been par for the course over this past week and a half or so. During this time, we did some downrigging without much success, and then went up shallow and fished with bait for panfish. This turned out very well. All three kids regularly took bluegill sunfish, green sunfish, long ear sunfish,and orange spotted sunfish. This fishing requires constant attention and is quite engaging with near-instant results in the warm-water season.
We left the shallows after making three short hops for panfish to begin the final chapter of this morning’s trip at around 9:45 AM. The plan was to go to a mid-depth flat, run downriggers to try to find fish, and then hover over top of them with the trolling motor so that we could work slabs vertically through the fish we had found. Our first 20 minutes attempting this yielded only three white bass, and no schools of fish positioned so as to allow us to work slabs. I could tell the kids were getting antsy, but I didn’t want to give up too soon. In 23 feet of water, we finally found what I was after. We encountered a single large school of white bass numbering in the hundreds. We hovered over top of this school with the Minn Kota Spot Lock function on the trolling motor, and, in the next 25 minutes, boated an additional 41 fish. At about 10:50 the action died hard and we decided to call it a day with exactly 102 fish caught for our efforts this morning.
TALLY = 102 FISH, all caught and released
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Start Time: 6:30a
End Time: 10:50a
Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start: 74F
Water Surface Temp: 86F
Wind Speed & Direction: SSW3-6
Sky Conditions: Cloudless conditions following the sun’s rise above a thin grey cloud bank in the east at sunrise
Note: Lake has dropped 0.02 feet in the last 24 hours and now stands at 594.05 above sea level, with 594.00 being full pool
Other: GT= 0
AREAS FISHED WITH SUCCESS:
**Area 1118 topwater at first light
**Area 1583 panfishing
**Area 1589 downrigging to find fish; smoking slabs to catch them
Owner, Holding the Line Guide Service
254.368.7411 (call or text)