This morning I fished with returning client Clint Murphy of Georgetown, TX. We fished Belton Lake, targeting white bass and hybrid striped bass using artificial lures.
This hybrid striped bass was taken by Clint Murphy on a silver slab in 17 feet of water around 11:30am. It weighed exactly 5.00 pounds on a certified Boga Grip scale.
These fish were taken in the first two hours of the trip as the rain and high winds began to move on from east to west. These fish were taken in water under 12′ deep on bladebaits worked horizontally. The fish on the left measured 14 3/8″ and the fish on the right measured 14.00″. All 146 fish caught this morning were released.
Clint and I touched based 4 or 5 time prior to meeting this morning, starting as far back as last Wednesday when the extended NOAA forecast showed a wet cold front due to hit central Texas sometime today. As NOAA’s “shot group” tightened as time went on, it appeared that the majority of the rain and wind would take place in the pre-dawn hours, leaving still-cloudy skies, tolerable temperatures, and falling wind speeds. I felt confident, given the extraordinarily productive fishing we’ve enjoyed on Belton over the last 3 weeks, and given the still-high water temperatures, that we could catch fish today as long as it was safe to do so.
Clint, who makes his living in the concrete business, met me at the boat ramp right around 6:15a. I parked on the ramp so the torrents of rain still falling would drain out of the boat as we waited for the storm front to pass. Clint transferred over to my truck and we got to shoot the breeze a bit before it got light. I took note that as I was approaching the boat ramp, I saw deer up and feeding, and, right at 7:00am, just as the heaviest of the rain ended and before we launched, a murder of crows flew over the parking lot in search of breakfast. I always look for such natural “sign” as an indicator of what the fish will or will not do. I was encouraged as be got on the water, despite the previous several hours of turbulent weather and the now falling air temperatures.
Suffice it to say that the fish were very much still in high gear today. We put a total of 146 fish in the boat including white bass, hybrid striped bass, and even a few largemouth. I was very pleasantly surprised to find fish regularly driving bait to the surface and I was also pleasantly surprised to find fish shallower on average than I’ve encountered them over the past 3 weeks. Of the 146 fish we landed today, none came out of more than 20 feet of water, with many coming from as little as 6-7 feet of water. Even when the fish “slid” off the shallow structure toward the first breakline, they stayed higher up on the flat versus slipping down to the shoulder of the break.
Where fish were in under 12 feet of water and mostly scattered horizontally, we most effectively fished with Cicada bladebaits fished horizontally. Where fish were deeper and more heavily congregated, we used slabs fished vertically in a minimum of 15 feet of water.
The final hour on the water, from 11a to noon, was the most productive window of an overall very productive morning. During this time the wind blew the most consistently and with the greatest velocity that we experienced over the duration of the trip. During this final 60 minutes, we boated exactly 58 fish and finally just left them biting when we made a 4 hour trip into a 5+ hour trip and I had to head in for a commitment I’d made at church.
As has been the case over this past 3 week’s worth of awesome fishing, large hybrid were in short supply — only 3 keeper were boated today. However, today’s take of white bass far exceeded the average catch of the past few weeks, with at least half of our white bass being solid keeper-sized fish, with the top two taping in at 14.00″ and 14 3/8″.
One of the reasons Clint booked today after our last outing chasing schooling largemouth on Decker Lake back in the summer was to see how I put sonar to work for me in finding fish, and how I employed the use of slabs and bladebaits. Clint’s desire is to put these lessons to use on Lake Georgetown near his home.
We really dodged a bullet in that this cold front did not bring in severe cold at a time of year when we are overdue for some frigid weather. This incredible bite on Belton continues. There are now but a handful of open dates over the next 3 weeks (the time over which I expect this kind of fast fishing to continue). Please don’t delay getting a trip on the books if you’ve been thinking about it. This bite will only degrade as the water temperatures falls with shortening days and more frequent and severe cold fronts.
TALLY = 146 FISH, all caught and released
Start Time: 7:05a
End Time: 12:00p
Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start: 65F (falling from 70F at 4:30a, and continue to fall to ~53F by trip’s end)
Water Surface Temp: 68.0F
Wind Speed & Direction: Variable throughout the morning, never exceeding 10mph after storm front’s passage around 6:45am.
Sky Conditions: Heavy grey cloud cover the entire trip
Other: GT= 80
AREAS FISHED WITH SUCCESS:
**Area 1632 threw bladebaits horizontally for shallow whites & hybrids
**Area 1625-1631threw bladebaits horizontally for shallow whites & hybrids while observing moderate sub-surface activity/birds
**Area 1622 slabbed/smoked for whites/hybrids
**Area 1629 slabbed/smoked for whites/hybrids
**Area 1630 slabbed/smoked for whites/hybrids, first tipped off by birds
Owner, Holding the Line Guide Service
254.368.7411 (call or text)