This Saturday morning I met Mr. Mike Duecy and his son, Jacob, and Mr. Brad Littrell and his daughter, Madilyn, for a morning of white bass and hybrid striper fishing on Belton Lake. The plan was for the two dads to come along as extra eyes and ears, but to let the kids do all the fishing.
Madilyn landed this nice hybrid striped bass which fell for a well-placed cork rig cast to boiling fish by her dad, Brad.
Jacob landed our largest fish today, a 3.50 pound blue catfish that fell for a moving Pet Spoon.
I have to admit it … I goofed up a bit this morning. Originally, only Mike and Jacob were going to come on a different date, and at a time when I was launching out of Rogers Park. This morning, we agreed to meet at 6:30 sharp so as not to miss a lick of any topwater bite that might develop. By 6:35, I’d not yet seen Mike and Brad, so I called them. They said they were in the parking lot. Well, I had quite a clear view of the parking lot and could see they were not in it. I asked which boat ramp they were at, and Mike responded, “Rogers Park.” I had done a “cut-and-paste” from the former set of directions into Mike’s email for this trip and sent him to the wrong park!! I almost panicked thinking my blunder would cause us to miss the topwater bite. But, (thank you, Lord!) we had heavy cloud cover (to the point of some sprinkles falling) which obscured the sunrise and pushed the start of the topwater bite back enough to save my hide.
It worked out perfectly! We “met in the middle” at yet another boat ramp and made a mad dash for where I thought some topwater action might occur. As we arrived, the surface was like glass with no fish yet feeding on top, but, I saw some fish showing suspended just below the surface at 9-12 feet over a 20-22 foot bottom. We put downriggers down and scored on both rods after just a few minutes of fishing. No sooner did the kids hook up, than I spotted the morning’s first and only topwater action. A mix of white bass and hybrid stripers were forcing shad against the surface and devouring them. I cleared the decks of all obstructions, instructed the dads to lob our cork rigs into the fray, then hand the hooked fish off to the kids to enjoy the fight. This “family system” worked great, and, in the brief 20 minutes the fish stayed active, my four guests “tag-teamed” 17 fish with very few complications (tangles, knots, crossed lines, lines in trolling motor, and other such Murphy’s Law events that tend only to happen when the bite is really good).
After the surface bite died, we turned to downrigging to mop up, and, while the handful of other boats that had joined in on the topwater action left, we were able to boat 5 more fish until the combination of light and slack winds killed the bite. We’d boated 22 fish by this time.
Next, it was off to the shallows for panfish. Today we landed bluegill sunfish, orange spotted sunfish, green sunfish, and blacktail shiners — a combination of 20 to be exact, fishing with bream poles and a combination of worms and GULP!. The novelty of this portion of the adventure lasted about as long as the supply of fish at this area did — about 35 minutes.
Then it was on to the final phase of the trip — hunting for “popcorn” schools of white bass to be targeted by slabbing and/or downrigging. We did not have to search long to find aggressive schools of small white bass forcing small threadfin shad briefly to the surface, only to submerge in seconds and disappear. We relied on sonar to ferret out the location of these schools once they sounded. The schools were moving much more rapidly today than earlier in the week, and our efforts at slabbing from a fixed position did not go well. So, we rigged up with twin downriggers and proceeded to “wear ’em out” for about an hour, taking our tally from 42 fish, up to exactly 102 fish. That made for 60 fish boated in about 70 minutes allowing no time for the kids to get board or the dads to get a break from resetting the downriggers as I navigated and read sonar.
A great morning on Belton!! Despite both fishing their entire lives, neither Mike nor Brad had ever broken the century mark on a trip before. To do it with their kids was truly icing on the cake!
TALLY = 102 FISH, all caught and released
Start Time: 6:45a
End Time: 11:00a
Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start: 77F
Water Surface Temp: 88-89F
Wind Speed & Direction: Breeze was light and variable
Sky Conditions: 95% cloud cover with light sprinkles prior to sunrise; clouds slowly dissipating to 60% with brighter skies.
Note: Lake has dropped 0.01 feet in the last 24 hours and now stands at 594.26 above sea level, with 594.00 being full pool
Other: GT= 85
AREAS FISHED WITH SUCCESS:
**Area 010/012 early topwater followed by downrigging further out
**Area 492 panfishing
**Area 081/1578 slabbing/downrigging for “popcorn” white bass
Owner, Holding the Line Guide Service
254.368.7411 (call or text)