This past Wednesday morning, December 23, I fished with Bryan Hefley and his two sons, nine-year-old Coen, and seven-year-old Brennan.
From left: Bryan and Coen Hefley with a pair of nice Belton Lake hybrid stripers taken in the closing minutes of our trip.
The above photo shows Brennan’s lure hooked into both the white bass and the largemouth bass that tried to swallow that white bass!
From left: Coen, Brennan, and Bryan Hefley with Brennan’s 3.75 pound largemouth which attempted to swallow a smaller white bass as Brennan was reeling it in. Look closely and you can see the white bass still in the mouth of the largemouth bass!
Bryan works as the senior estimator at MW Builders in Temple, a construction firm focused on commercial, military, and industrial construction. The boys, who live in Salado, are both homeschooled, with their homeschool education supplemented by coursework taken through Providence Preparatory School in Belton.
As we began our trip this morning, we encountered tough conditions nearly identical to those encountered yesterday – bright, cloudless skies and a lack of wind. We caught an even dozen fish via vertical jigging in about 25 feet of water after locating fish on sonar. We kept an eye out for helpful bird activity, but none was to be found. The birds simply respond to fish activity, so when there is little to no fish activity, the birds don’t feed either.
I decided to search out an entirely different population of fish than those that the birds had led me to of late, and at the first area we searched, I found ample, heavily congregated white bass of all sizes holding on a break line from 27 to 34 feet. We stayed in this general vicinity working that break line at several points along the same contour, each several boat lengths away from the other, and pulled over 100 fish in about 2.5 hours time. During this time the wind steadily built up to approximately 16 mph, and the fishing stayed solid throughout this time frame.
With about 30 minutes left in our trip, and with the boys attention flagging, I decided to make a move, primarily for variety’s sake. As we arrived, I issued a challenge to the boys to see if they could contribute 12 more fish to our fish count of 138 in order to make it an even 150 fish trip. They had roughly 25 minutes to accomplish this task. Things went very well all the way up to fish number 148. By this time, the once strong bite was beginning to wane significantly. Then, as it if someone turned off a switch, the bite just shut down. It was now approximately 11:15, the time I had planned to wrap up, but we were so close to our goal, and all three fellows were so set on catching 150, that we stayed on.
I began tidying things up and recording information from my sonar unit as to where we had been successful. Then, all of a sudden, both Coen and Bryan’s rods got bit. As I saw the bend in the rods all the way down into the butt section, I knew they both had nice fish on. As it turned out, when both of these fish came to net, they were 3 and 4 pound class hybrid stripers. We not only caught 150 fish, but we finished up the trip with a bang!
Not to be excluded from the big fish action, Brennan landed his own 3.75 pound largemouth today, also in the closing minutes of the trip. As he was fishing with a slab for white bass, a white bass struck the slab and was hooked on the treble hook, leaving the stinger hook free. As he reeled in the white bass, a largemouth decided to try to make a meal out of it. The largemouth attempted to swallow the white bass headfirst, and as it did, it got hooked on the inside of its own jaw with the stinger hook. Never a dull moment fishing with a kids!
Now we understood why those smaller white bass shut down. The big boys moved in and spooked them off their turf!
We accomplished our goal of boating 150 fish (technically, 151 if you count the white bass that the largemouth nearly swallowed!), and then enjoyed a “refreshing” ride back to the boat ramp, complete with waves, whitecaps, swells, and lots of cool spray — just what a fishing guide with arthritic shoulders and knees looks forward to!!!
TALLY = 150 FISH, all caught and released
Start Time: 7:15p
End Time: 11:40p
Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start: 66F
Water Surface Temp: 59-60F
Wind Speed & Direction: Calm at dawn and for 1 hour thereafter, slowly increasing to SW15 by trip’s end
Sky Conditions: Fair w/ no cloud cover
Water Level: 4.55 feet above full pool with 0.28 feet of water released in the past 24 hours.
Other: GT= 40
AREAS FISHED WITH SUCCESS:
**Area 1645 to 1648 – vertical jigging for fish found on sonar under low light conditions
**Area 1666 to 618 – vertical jigging for fish found on sonar
**Area 1624 (vicinity) – vertical jigging for fish found on sonar
Owner, Holding the Line Guide Service
254.368.7411 (call or text)