This morning I met Dr. Lurry Leavelle and his wife, Mrs. Donna Leavelle, at Belton Lake for a morning of white bass and hybrid striped bass fishing.
Lurry and Donna landed these just-legal 18″ hybrid just seconds apart. The two fish came from the same school and both fell for slabs worked vertically near bottom.
The Leavelle’s adult children had presented Lurry and Donna with a fishing gift certificate for Christmas, which we’d hoped to redeem in the late spring/early summer, but flooding prevented that and we rescheduled to this date. Lurry is Vietnam-era U.S. Army veteran and a semi-retired Ob/Gyn doctor at Scott and White. He and Donna have been in the central Texas area since the early 1970’s.
This has been a particularly tough summer, and although Belton is getting some bad press lately on the Texas Fishing Forum, in the local newspapers, and amongst bass tournament anglers, I’m still seeing a lot of fish and a lot of bait; getting those fish to bite, however, has been a real trick. On numerous occasions over the past two weeks I’ve seen instances where large schools of white bass and/or hybrid stripers were holding on or near bottom in what is normally a feeding posture, yet, when I’ve run baits through them both vertically and horizontally, they simply refuse to respond, or, if they respond, the response is far less aggressive than is typically encountered during summertime conditions.
Such was the case today. I located abundant schools of fish, yet, for all the effort we put in both downrigging horizontally and jigging vertically, it seems that we just barely got the attention of a fraction of the fish we encountered.
Our best results came in about a 60 minute window between 9:30 and 10:30am in the vicinity of Area 812/085/814. During this time, fish which I’d already located turned on to a greater degree than they had since I’d located them. This bite coincided with a sudden increase of wind speed and a directional shift from S to SSW. As the wind blew, the fish turned on, affording us 50% of our catch in about 20% of our total fishing time. As these fish ( a mix of hybrid and white bass) turned on, we jigged vertically until no fish showed on sonar, then short-hopped over top of more fish until finally the fish were no longer well-congregated and we changed over to a downrigging approach to “mop up” until the bite just died here altogether.
After that, I checked 4 other areas, finding small 5-8″ white bass surface feeding regularly in the vicinity of Area 1081. These fish readily took a small silver slab while on top, however, there were no larger white bass or hybrid “ghosting” underneath these school, only small fish. We caught a few while observing for larger quarry, but departed once it became clear there were no bigger fish in this area.
By 11:15a the morning bite had played out and we decided to wrap up our morning trip with a total of 21 fish landed.
TALLY = 21 FISH, all caught and released
Start Time: 6:30a
End Time: 11:20a
Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start: 77F
Water Surface Temp: 86.3F
Wind Speed & Direction: S8-9, briefly turning SSW11-13 from 9:30 to 10:30, then settling back to S7-8
Sky Conditions: A bit more humid today with ~20% cloud cover.
Note: Lake has dropped 0.03 feet in the last 24 hours and now stands at 594.81above sea level, with 594.00 being full pool
Other: GT= 20
AREAS FISHED WITH SUCCESS:
**Area 812/085/814 vertical jigging and downrigging for bottom-oriented white bass and hybrid striped bass
**Area 1081 small topwater white bass
Owner, Holding the Line Guide Service
254.368.7411 (call or text)