This past Tuesday evening, May 17th, I finished with Dr. Chad Housewright and 2 of his sons, Ethan and Asher, on Belton Lake targeting hybrid striped bass using a variety of techniques.
From left: Ethan, Chad, and Asher Housewright all with 3.50 to 4.00 pound Belton Lake hybrid striped bass. These three fish came under the boat in a large wolfpack, taking down 3 of our 4 rods all at the same time. I netted all of these fish over a span of just 25 seconds.
At around 7:50p, a coldfront pushed directly over Belton Lake, suddenly increasing the windspeed and cloud cover. As this occurred, the fish went on an absolute feeding binge. Here was the scene under the boat which included hybrid and white bass of all sizes, as well as a few blue catfish mixed in.
Chad is a dermatologist with the Baylor-Scott & White system in Temple. In this capacity, he provided counsel to a dermatologist-in-training by the name of Rod Mahmoudizad back in 2015. As a token of his appreciation for the training he received, Rod presented Chad with a fishing gift certificate before moving from the area to further pursue his career. This past Tuesday, Chad had the opportunity to redeem the certificate with two of his sons along.
As I arrived at the launch site about 30 minutes before our scheduled start time, I really didn’t like what I saw — a nearly calm surface and next to no cloud cover. After Chad and the boys arrived, we went over some safety considerations, prayed together, and then covered the essentials of using the fishing gear. By the time I put the boat in gear and began to study sonar searching for fish, a light NNW ripple had begun, and the very thin grey layer of broken clouds was just slightly obscuring the sun. I found some solid fish activity in 48 feet of water and decided to post up over top of these fish with the Minn Kota Ulterra and its GPS positioning function.
By the time we got baits in the water the entire lake’s surface was now slightly rippled and the thin cloud cover was a bit thicker — things were looking better all the time. Our first 3 shad were down near bottom no longer than 30 seconds when the audible bait clickers on the reels began to sound off. This was the start of a 2.5 hour bite that ebbed and flowed but did not stop until around 7:45p as thickening clouds cut the light at this depth and put an end to the bite. During this period of time, we boated a total of 48 fish, all but 3 of which were hybrid striper, and all but 7 of which were legal 18+” long fish.
In our last 45 minutes on the water, several key environmental factors came into play. First, as the sun began to set, the ambient light level fell, then as a mild cold front moved in, heavy cloud cover on its lead edge further darkened the skies and increased the wind speed significantly, from 6-7 mph up to 17-18 mph. Finally, as that lead edge of clouds moved to the SE, thinner cloud cover followed, thus actually creating a brightening of the skies despite the fact that sunset was drawing nearer.
During our last 45 minutes on the water, the fish went into an absolute feeding rampage as the responded to the front and the failing light. During this short time span, we had at least 2, if not 3 of the rods working with fish on them more often then not. We had short hybrid, keeper hybrid, white bass, and blue cat all in the fray feeding hard on shad while we fooled them with 3/4 oz. lead slabs. We took our tally from 48 fish up to 76 fish during this window of opportunity.
When the last fish came over the side right at dark and the rods were stowed, we discovered the fun was not quite over yet. The 18+ mph wind now blowing N to S directly across the boat ramp made loading the boat back onto the trailer with a 2+ foot swell akin to a nighttime carrier landing in a gale! The Housewright’s graciously helped all they could, and, by 8:30 or so all was well and the boys were headed home to knock out that night’s school homework.
TALLY = 76 fish, all caught and released
Start Time: 5:15p
End Time: 8:25p
Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start: 77F
Water Surface Temp: 75.4F
Wind Speed & Direction: Winds were NNW6-8 until 7:50p when the lead edge of a cool front moved over, increasing wind speed up to NNW16-18 and dropping the temperature moderately.
Sky Conditions: 30% thin grey cover over a clear sky up until 7:15, then increasing cloudiness as the mild front approached.
Water Level: 6.42 feet above full pool with a fall of 0.16 feet in the last 24 hours with a release of ~4600cfs ongoing.
GT = 50
AREAS FISHED WITH SUCCESS:
**Area 1743 – live shad for first 2.5 hours
**Area 1299 – slabs for pre-frontal fish in last .5 hours
Owner, Holding the Line Guide Service
254.368.7411 (call or text)