SKIFF Trip #11 – William and Aidan Hooper, 60 Fish @ Belton Lake

This past Tuesday morning, August 9th, I fished with William and Aidan Cooper of Killeen on the 11th SKIFF (Soldiers’ Kids Involved in Fishing Fun) trip of the 2016 season.


Although we were able to find and catch fish throughout our 4-hour time on the water this morning, the first 90 minutes provided proportionally more and larger fish than the balance of the morning.  William took both of these hybrid by sight-casting to schools of active fish forcing shad to the surface under low-light conditions.


Aidan landed this nice Belton Lake hybrid striped bass of his own, as well as numerous white bass after quickly learning how to cast and retrieve using spinning gear.

William and Aidan are the sons of US Army Staff Sergeant Cory Hale and his wife, Chastsie Hale. SSG Hale is a field artillerymen currently deployed to South Korea.

Mrs. Hale saw to it that the boys arrived punctually this morning, as I shared with her the day before that the best fishing was typically taking place in the first 75 minutes of our time on the water. Today turned out to be no exception. The fishing has been exceptionally stable and consistent as I expected it will be as long as we have stable, high-pressure weather controlling our conditions. Around 6:40 AM, we spied the first “early risers” consisting of white bass and hybrid striper beginning to push threadfin shad to the surface and feed upon them there. Within the next 20 minutes there was a full-on feed taking place over an oblong area about 300 yards long and perhaps 50 yards wide. Although several other boats were in this vicinity, everyone kept their space and was considerate of the others – – one of the things I really enjoy about fishing on the weekdays versus the weekends.

After 90 minutes of nonstop action, the fish began to settle down and push down further in the water column. We quickly switched over to downrigging gear and continued to catch fish consistently for another 30 minutes. By about the two hour mark (around 8:30 AM), the white bass and hybrid striped bass feed had about wrapped up in this area.

We moved on searching for bottom-hugging fish that might respond to vertical tactics. As we searched, I noticed one particular area of the lake that had white bass consistently coming up in “popcorn” schools which appeared briefly and then sounded. Such popcorn schools are pretty tough unless all anglers can cast long and accurately. We took two fish from out of this scenario and then decided to move on to something completely different.

I took the boys up shallow and showed them briefly how to use poles without reels attached to angle for sunfish up in the brush-filled shallow water. We put three panfish in the boat pretty quickly, and then decided to move on to fishing for blue catfish in deep, open water.

The last 40 minutes of the trip we spent fishing with fresh, dead shad for blue catfish and the boys did very well. Both were fast learners. I showed them just one time how to differentiate between the fish approaching the bait initially, and the fish committing to take the bait fully in its mouth. Once they understood the difference and began setting the hook at the proper time, they batted about two out of every three fish on their ‘bite to catch’ ratio.

We wrapped up the trip right around 10:30 AM with exactly 60 fish landed this morning. Since William is already driving and his mother had to work today, he shuttled his brother home and the two had plans for lunch and a nap before William’s football practice at Shoemaker high school where he plays as a cornerback this season.


TALLY = 60 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: ~2.20 feet high and falling ~  0.7 feet per day with a reduced flow of ~2800 cfs

GT = 0

Wx Snapshot:



**Area 1657 – low light topwater sightcasting for white bass & hybrid stripers

**Area 1657-1655-812 – downrigging after topwater fish sounded due to increasing light

**Area 1795-1796 – popcorn schooling by white bass

**Area 1797 – panfish on slipfloats

**Area  1070- bluecat  with fresh, dead shad



Bob Maindelle

Owner, Holding the Line Guide Service

254.368.7411 (call or text)