This morning I met up with Ed Hughes, his daughter, Jackie Cooper, and Jackie’s husband, Darrien Cooper, targeting white bass and hybrid striped bass on Belton Lake.
This is a more clear StructureScan shot of that same school of white bass — you can actually count each “rice grain” image of each fish and see (on the lower left corner of the screen) the “streaking” effect made by those fish rising rapidly off the bottom to inspect the commotion made by their school mates.
Needless to say, everyone caught a bunch of white bass today!!! We stopped at 75 when the sun broke through and Ed didn’t want to push his luck in the heat any longer. We had just a few hybrid and one blue cat mixed in, but the vast majority of our catch today was white bass.
Ed is now 89 years old. He’s a veteran of 3 wars: WWII, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. He lived through the Great Depression, and got his start in the military in the 1940’s flying in the Army Air Corps and stuck it out for over 30 years in the military as a pilot flying all kinds of fixed-wing aircraft. He golfs and shoots skeet every week and keeps up with his 86 year young wife, Jo. The Cooper’s traveled in 18 hours from near Vidalia, Georgia, to visit, and our fishing trip was high on the list of things to do while in town.
We agreed to meet at 6:20am so as not to miss a bit of any early, low-light bite that might develop. Of course, Ed and the gang were parked at the Corps of Engineer gate well before I arrived at the “gate open” time of 6:00am. The extra time allowed us to get acquainted, get the spinning reel handles on the correct side for each person, and figure out our “battle stations” for where each person would be situated if topwater action erupted.
Not long after first light, I used my spotting scope to find some light topwater action generated by white bass. We all threw Cork Rigs and got a fish on every well-placed cast while the action lasted. Following this, there was a bit of a lull, which was to be expected given that the cloud cover eliminated the sudden brightening of the sky caused by sunrise. After about 30 minutes, the skies brightened sufficiently through the clouds to trigger another topwater feed. We stayed with these fish as long as they stayed on top, and then followed them with downriggers once they sounded, picking up only another 5 fish before this large school dissipated.
We then experienced yet another lull during which I decided to move us to a new location. Upon arrival, I spotted frequent but scattered schools of white bass along the bottom in 32 feet of water. We successfully downrigged for these, but found most to be small white bass. A 3-armed umbrella rig with Pet Spoons did the trick.
It was now around 9:40, and this bite seemed to be dwindling, so, we headed to a new area. As I idled in observing the surface for any sign of fish, I consistently saw fish at 21-22 feet beneath the surface in slightly deeper water. No sooner did we get the downriggers deployed and land a double, than the sonar lit up big time showing fish blanketing the bottom in numbers that I have not seen since the flooding disrupted things. I tossed a buoy, got back over these fish, and we proceeded to wear them out on slabs until Ed had enough of the heat and humidity. By this time the trio had worked the tally up to exactly 75 fish — it was all I could do to take the fish off their hooks and keep an accurate count on my clicker. No jumbos in the white bass catch today, but just having action from start to finish on a 4-hour trip is a great thing.
Mr. Hughes, thank you for your service to the nation!!
TALLY = 75 FISH, all caught and released
Start Time: 6:30a
End Time: 10:20a
Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start: 76F
Water Surface Temp: 87-88F
Wind Speed & Direction: Light NNW breeze 3-5mph
Sky Conditions: Humid with 80+% low grey cloud cover.
Note: Lake has dropped 0.03 feet in the last 24 hours and now stands at 594.32 above sea level, with 594.00 being full pool
Other: GT= 15
AREAS FISHED WITH SUCCESS:
**Area 1125/794 topwater white bass
**Area 302/1069 started with topwater and mopped up with downriggers
**Area 929/1129 downriggers
**Area 1576 smoking for white bass
Owner, Holding the Line Guide Service
254.368.7411 (call or text)