This past Tuesday afternoon I met up with 14-year-old Aaron Cherry of Nolanville, TX, for a fishing trip on Lake Belton booked through the Fort Hood SKIES program.
Aaron did well at all the tactics we employed today including downrigging, vertical jigging, fan-casting bladebaits, and sight-casting to topwater fish.
After several of the fish we caught and released regurgitated shad they had previously eaten, we made sure our lure size matched what they were feeding on. Shad are a small, oil, energy-rich baitfish that make up the majority of the diet of most of the species of predator fish in Belton Lake.
Right around 3:45pm, Aaron and his mom, Charlotte, arrived at the launch area we’d selected on Belton Lake.
After a bit of paperwork and a safety talk, Aaron and I headed out in search of fish. We started off using downriggers, but very quickly switched over to vertical jigging based on the great number of heavily concentrated fish we discovered holding near bottom.
We started jigging with 3/8 oz. slabs, but, upon discovering the fish were feeding on larger baitfish (based on what we saw them regurgitate), we increased our lure size to 3/4 oz. models.
We picked up just shy of half of our total catch in our first hour on the water as the stiffest breeze of the entire 4-hour trip blew from the NNE during that time. When that breeze subsided, and until the sun began to set, the fishing slowed down.
As has been the case over most of the summer on afternoon trips, we experienced a bit of a lull from 5-6p, but then around 6p, and right up until dark, action steadily increased as fish got more active and moved both shallower and up higher in the water column.
As light topwater action began to break out on the surface after the sun set, I was impressed with how quickly Aaron took to accurately casting to surface-feeding fish with just some basic instruction I’d provided him with earlier in the trip as we practiced fan-casting with blade baits out in deeper water. For his efforts tonight, Aaron landed 70 fish.
SKIES Unlimited stands for School of Knowledge, Inspiration, Exploration and Skills. SKIES Unlimited classes are open to children of active duty military personnel, retirees, Department of the Army civilians, and to Department of Defense contractors. To enroll in SKIES Unlimited activities, children must be registered with CYSS at Building 121 on 761st Tank Destroyer Avenue (right across from the Chili’s restaurant).
There is no charge for registration; parents must bring an ID that shows their affiliation with the military, the child’s shot records, and the report from a recent physical exam. While the SKIES Unlimited programs are not free, many military families are eligible for sizeable credits toward SKIES Unlimited activities. There is a $300 “Army Strong” credit available to each child when their parent is deployed.
TALLY = 70 FISH, all caught and released
Start Time: 3:45p
End Time: 7:45p
Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start: 90F
Water Surface Temp: 80.6F
Wind Speed & Direction: NNE7-8
Sky Conditions: Cloudless, fair skies with very dry conditions
Note: Lake has dropped 0.05 feet in the last 24 hours and now stands at 592.68 above sea level, with 594.00 being full pool
Other: GT= 0
AREAS FISHED WITH SUCCESS:
**Area (vicinity) 677/472 for 34 fish when downrigging led to smoking
**Area 1073 downrigging
**Area 1186 3 short hops gradually shallower to keep up with fish ramping up for twilight bite
**Area 018 last light topwater action
Owner, Holding the Line Guide Service
254.368.7411 (call or text)