This past Tuesday morning I fished with Mr. Bob Schwartz of Temple, TX.
In just 4 hours, Bob was introduced to 5 different techniques for taking fish on top, on bottom, and from a suspended posture. We boated 3 different species of fish and tallied 56 fish for our efforts.
Bob is an immediately likeable, easy-going fellow. He began his adult life with a stint in the U.S. Air Force, later went on to law school, served as a judge, and, before retiring for good, served as an auditor to the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture out of Temple, TX. Now, at age 71, he wanted to figure out this whole fishing thing.
Every once in a while I get a call or email from a guy like Bob. I can tell that he really wants to learn and already understands that an intentional, methodical approach to successful fishing is possible, but that such a thing has eluded him. Bob has a boat, modern gear, and time on his hands, yet, in the last 8-9 attempts at fishing on Belton, and after covering the lake from beyond the Hwy 36 bridge on the Leon arm to near the East Range Road bridge on the Cowhouse arm, had managed only a single, small catfish.
I explained a number of things by phone before we ever met: about the relative infertility of our Hill Country lakes, about realistic expectations, about journaling, about the thermocline, about relative abundance of species, and more. We then agreed to meet and fish one-on-one. The point was not so much to catch fish, but to learn to catch fish.
My “Number 1” point was that fish are really not all that difficult to catch, but they can be extremely difficult to find. Hence, we focused on location and how to systematically eliminate unproductive water and tactics.
In our first 40 minutes on the water, we were blessed to encounter a moderate topwater feed. We caught nearly half of the trip’s fish on “cork rigs” with a trailer designed to imitate the size of the shad being fed upon there in that opening few mintues.
Next, we found bait trapped in a pocket in the back of a cove, being corralled and kept there by gamefish. We worked these fish over with a bladebait fish just sub-surface and scored.
Next, we tracked down “popcorn” schools of white bass and hybrid striper feeding briefly on top and scored again.
Later, it was on to downrigging for fish pushing deeper thanks to calm, bright conditions — and we continued to score. Finally, even though the conditions were less than ideal, we pinpointed some deep, tightly schooled white bass and used a smoking tactic with slabs to score one last time. No giants or trophies today, just some down-and-dirty fishing basics to set Bob up for success in the future.
Along the way we discussed flats, breaklines, spurs, draws, channels, and other forms of fish-holding bottom features and how to find these with sonar.
Bob was one of the most eager students I’ve had aboard in a long time. He invested (not spent) some money in hiring me as a guide and, I am confident, is well-equipped to tap into Belton’s fishery confidently and on his own as a result.
Any other students out there? Let’s talk!!
TALLY = 56 FISH, all caught and released
Start Time: 6:30a
End Time: 11:15a
Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start: 83F
Water Surface Temp: 86.5F
Wind Speed & Direction: SSE3-6
Sky Conditions: Cloudless conditions following the sun’s rise above a thin grey cloud bank in the east at sunrise
Note: Lake has dropped 0.01 feet in the last 24 hours and now stands at 594.11 above sea level, with 594.00 being full pool
Other: GT= 50
AREAS FISHED WITH SUCCESS:
**Area 1585/478 topwater at first light
**Area 1580 downrigging late
**Area 1097 smoking at trip’s end
Owner, Holding the Line Guide Service
254.368.7411 (call or text)