This past Saturday morning, August 6, I fished at Belton Lake with Mrs. Blanca Pena and her two sons, 11-year-old Osmar, and 9-year-old, Bryan. This trip was a Soldiers’ Kids Involved in Fishing Fun (SKIFF) fishing trip, provided courtesy of the Austin Fly Fishers. This was the 10th SKIFF trip of the 2016 season.
From left: Osmar, Blanca, and Bryan Pena with a pair of white bass we caught using downriggers equipped with Pet Spoons on this, the 10th SKIFF trip of the 2016 season.
After a safety briefing and a quick introduction to the fishing equipment we be using this morning, we cleared the no wake zone by 6:30 AM and headed to the fishing grounds. As the skies began to brighten just prior to sunrise, some very light top water feeding began to take place as white bass pushed shad to the surface. This was nothing in comparison to yesterday’s long and strong top water feed, in fact, it was so light that we did not even cast to, or focus on, these fish. Instead, we ran downriggers in the vicinity of the schooling action hoping to find more numerous fish beneath the few that were aggressive enough to hit on top. What action did develop was over within an hour, and by 7:45 we were searching new areas for fish.
Thanks to a number of newly opened boat ramps on Belton Lake, quite a few boats were out, and I could see that no one was pulling fish in the area we were fishing, thus making it pretty easy to cut ties and run to another area to search for fish. So as not to lose the boys’ interest, I decided we would head up shallow a bit earlier than usual and begin fishing for sunfish in the near-shore flooded brush. We made two such stops and picked up bluegill sunfish, green sunfish, blacktail shiners, and juvenile smallmouth bass with ease using baited hooks beneath slip floats.
When the novelty of sun fishing wore off, I once again devoted some time to looking for white bass and/ or hybrid striper to either downrig or jig for, but found nothing of interest. I really didn’t stick with this search very long, as I knew the boys would get fidgety pretty quickly. By now, it was about 9:15 AM, and I decided to give a look for blue catfish in deep open water.
Blue catfish have proven very, very reliable and consistent this summer in some of the traditional haunts where white bass and hybrid are typically found, but have been absent from this summer thanks to the flooding. The tactic remained the same this morning: I searched for catfish on sonar, used the Spot Lock function on the Ulterra trolling motor to hover over top of them, put chum out to get the fish interested, and then sent our baited hooks down for nearly instantaneous results.
Over our final 40 minutes on the water each of the boys caught about a half dozen blue cat. I was pretty impressed with how quickly Osmar got the hang of setting the hook after detecting a steady pull downward by the catfish.
We closed out our trip by taking photos of the boys with our best pair of white bass, our best pair of sunfish, and our best pair of blue cats. Our grand total for the morning was 42 fish caught and released.
TALLY = 42 fish, all caught and released
Start Time: 6:30a
End Time: 10:30a
Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start: 80F
Water Surface Temp: 85.4F
Wind Speed & Direction: S9-12
Sky Conditions: 20% white clouds on a fair sky. Unobscurred sunrise at 7:12.
Water Level: ~5.30 feet high and falling ~ 0.7 feet per day with a flow of ~5,200 cfs
GT = 0
AREAS FISHED WITH SUCCESS:
**Area 147-1654 – low light downrigging for white bass
**Area 166 &499 sunfish
**Area 1655/085- bluecat in last hour
Owner, Holding the Line Guide Service
254.368.7411 (call or text)