On Monday morning, December 14, I fished with Pastor Jimmy Low, Pastor Tom Zintgraff, and Tom’s son, James Zintgraff, who works in the cardiology department at Scott and White Hospital in Temple. Jimmy and Tom both minister at the Heritage Church, near the new Cinemark Theater on I-35 in Temple.
Pastor Jimmy Low took big fish honors this morning with this freshwater drum (a.k.a. gaspergou) which fell for his slab right at sunrise.
Pastor Tom Zentgraff took this hybrid striper from out of an aggressive, mobile school of fish which attracted the attention of ring-billed gulls, which, in turn, attracted our attention.
James Zentgraff was very consistent in his technique this morning, and was rewarded with white bass, hybrid stripers, and freshwater drum .
Pastor Tom Zentgraff caught this rare warmouth. There is no warmouth on the recordbooks for Belton Lake, so, he’s “starting the bidding” at 1/8 pound.
I was a bit concerned about this morning’s trip, given that we had just come off of a cold front which moved in late Saturday night into Sunday morning, and given the forecast for bright skies and light winds. Well before dawn, as I got my first glimpse of Belton Lake, I could see a light wind was already at work on the surface, causing a ripple. My expectations for the trip increased as sunrise drew near and the winds increased.
As we launched around 7:15 AM, plenty of bird life was already in the air scouting for breakfast. By 7:35 AM the first bird action directly connected to fish activity began to unfold. The birds stayed active for a full two and half hours and then quit around the same time the winds went calm, right at 10 AM. By 10 AM, we had already put 103 fish in the boat, but our task got infinitely harder at this point given the bright skies and calm conditions I initially thought we’re going to face us the entire morning.
I left this population of fish and searched for an entirely new population of fish, hoping that the change of venue would lead us to some fish that could be finessed with smaller lures and more intentional jigging tactics. By 10:15 we had arrived in the area I’d hoped to find fish. Sonar revealed a few fish along a deep, gentle breakline and in a feeding posture, just slightly up off the bottom in about 30 to 33 feet of water. We changed over to 3/8 ounce slabs and jigged more slowly and more intentionally, and did get a few fish excited. We landed 27 additional fish in our last hour on the water in this area.
We would pull up on some fish, use the Minnkota to Spot Lock over top of them, and catch what was there; the only problem with such sluggish fish, however, was that nearby fish would not come over out of curiosity to see what was going on. Rather, we had to move a boat length or two to the left or right in order to go to them.
During this final hour on the water, Tom and landed a very rare catch. He put a 1/8 pound warmouth, which is a small, wide-mouthed, brown colored member of the sunfish family, in the boat. Because no lake record for this species exists, we measured and weighed it end entered it on Tom’s behalf as a new lake record for that species, despite it being a fairly small fish.
By 11:15, the wind had completely died, there were no birds in sight, and the bite had wound down to nothing. We called it a day with exactly 131 fish landed in 4.25 hours of effort.
TALLY = 131 FISH, all caught and released
Start Time: 7:00a
End Time: 11:15a
Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start: 48F
Water Surface Temp: 59.9F
Wind Speed & Direction: S7 at sunrise, increasing to S10 in the next 2 hours, then going slack by 10:15am
Sky Conditions: Bluebird skies.
Water Level: 6.69 feet above full pool with 0.27 feet of water gained in the past 24 hours from the ~2″ of rain that fell early Sunday AM
Other: GT= 25
AREAS FISHED WITH SUCCESS:
**Area Vic 1648 first action under birds
**Area Vic 1069 under birds
**Area Vic 133 under birds
**Area Vic 1125 last action under birds
**Area Vic 619 with 3 short hops along same contour w/fish found via sonar
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