This past Friday morning, August 5, I fished with Mr. Mark Herzer of Austin, his 14-year-old son, Zach, and two of Zach’s friends, DJ and Justin Herring, all in celebration of Zach’s 14th birthday which rolled around on 22 July.
From left: Zach Herzer, DJ Herring, Mark Herzer, and Justin Herring. After a white bass-fueled 64-fish topwater blitz lasting 70 minutes, we changed gears and closed out our trip today fishing for catfish, putting another 32 fish in boat with that approach.
Although all four fellows had fished a good bit before, the catching had not typically kept pace, so we set out to turn the tide on their so-so luck of the past.
We idled out of the no wake zone at exactly 6:30a, and had our first fish on the line by 6:40a. We were fortunate to experience the singlemost intense top water feed by white bass that I have witnessed so far this season on Lake Belton. The fish stayed on the surface and aggressively chasing shad for a full 70 minutes. During this time my four anglers were able to boat exactly 64 fish.
As I have noted in my field notes in years past, often when the fish feed so aggressively for so long, the action dies hard thereafter, whereas the action often slowly tapers to a pause under less aggressive low light feeding conditions. We definitely experienced a downturn in success from roughly 8 to 9 AM. I had come prepared to finish out our trip targeting blue catfish in open water, but given the slowdown we experienced, Mark and I agree we should go with the catfish plan a bit earlier.
As we put down our first catfish bait, our fish count stood at 66 white bass, and 2 hybrid striped bass (after we picked up a few fish downrigging following the topwater action). I told the boys if they really worked at it, we could catch enough catfish to make this a 100 fish day. That would require 32 fish and all four of them contributing to the effort. I did a thorough demonstration on how to distinguish between a fish just approaching and grabbing a bait initially versus taking it fully in its mouth and moving off with it. It is during the latter behavior that the hook must be set. Everyone went through a bit of a learning curve, but soon everybody was setting the hook on the biting catfish at the appropriate time, and our fish count steadily climbed through the 80’s into the 90’s and, by 10:15 AM, our 100th fish of the day came aboard. Of these catfish, 31 were blue cat and one, the largest of all of them, was a channel catfish.
I could tell the boys were really excited and enthused about their success. Each of them personally thanked me for the trip without prompting by Mr. Herzer. As we parted ways, I recommended Schoepf’s barbecue in Belton to the entire crew. A special thanks to my sister-in-law, Amy Maindelle, for helping make today’s connection.
TALLY = 100 fish, all caught and released
Start Time: 6:30a
End Time: 10:15a
Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start: 80F
Water Surface Temp: 85.2F
Wind Speed & Direction: S9-12
Sky Conditions: 20% white clouds on a fair sky. Unobscurred sunrise at 7:12.
Water Level: ~6.01 feet high and falling ~ 0.7 feet per day with a flow of ~5,200 cfs
GT = 95
AREAS FISHED WITH SUCCESS:
**Area 019 around to 025 – strong topwater action by (all) white bass
**Area 1069 – moderate success on downriggers
**Area 1070 (to SSE in 32′) – bluecat in last hour
Owner, Holding the Line Guide Service
254.368.7411 (call or text)