This past Thursday morning, August 25th, I fished with Jerry Shirley, his wife Elizabeth, and his younger brother Zack, who was in visiting from North Carolina before starting high school again next week.
From left: Zack, Elizabeth and Jerry Shirley with a sampling of white bass taken on this morning’s multi-species trip on Lake Belton.
Jerry is a recently separated U.S. Army veteran, and Elizabeth is still on active duty and headed for a deployment to South Korea in early 2017. I appreciate the service of all of the soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines that come on my boat and am glad to be able to offer a $30 discount to them on their fishing trips.
This morning we fished a multi-species trip on Lake Belton. This was the calmest, and the clearest day we’ve had since the cold front came in two Fridays ago, and since the low-pressure and rain moved out this past Tuesday.
As is typical on bright, cloudless days, most of the white bass and hybrid striper action was frontloaded in the first 70 minutes of the trip. During this time we found numerous, aggressive schools of white bass mixed with hybrid stripers herding shad to the surface and feeding upon them there thus making enough commotion to be visually detected from quite some distance away. Additionally, gray terns were feeding over top of many of these schools, making them even easier to locate.
I had Jerry positioned in the front of the boat sight-casting to the left and right as we approached these schools, and I had Zack and Elizabeth on either side of the boat in the stern each manning a downrigger set 20 feet back and 12 feet down equipped with Pet Spoons behind umbrella rigs.
The fish came easy right up until 8:10 when the sun rose sufficiently high and became bright to the point that it pushed the fish down off the surface.
At this time we pursued species number two, which consisted of throwing soft plastic grubs on quarter ounce jig heads to schooling largemouth bass up in shallow brush. This lasted about 40 minutes and, as we were pulling away from these fish, we then spotted “popcorn” schools of white bass ambushing shad out in deep, open water. We did a “run and gun” routine for a while, catching just one fish per person (maybe) as we arrived, cut the engine and made accurate casts. The fish would the sound and we’d never see them again.
Around 9:15 we began pursuing species number three: blue catfish. We found abundant catfish hugging bottom in 28 to 32 feet of water chummed the area to get the fish active, and then fished cut shad to tempt them.
The catfishing is pretty relaxed, so, as you hold your rod and wait for a bite, it’s a good time to talk and tell stories. When I learned that Jerry’s family was from North Carolina, I told them of my fishing trip to the Outer Banks a few years ago and how we enjoyed the Carolina pulled pork and thin BBQ sauce. That’s when Jerry started confessing things — serious things, like high crimes and misdemeanor things … like smuggling a certain brand of Carolina BBQ sauce across multiple state lines so he doesn’t run out while he’s here in Texas.
By 11:05 we had boated exactly 103 fish. With the already light wind getting even lighter, and the sun feeling hotter, we decided to call it a good morning and head in for lunch.
TALLY = 103 fish, all caught and released
Start Time: 6:30a
End Time: 11:10a
Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start: 78F
Water Surface Temp: 84.7F
Wind Speed & Direction: SSE5-6
Sky Conditions: 20% cloud cover on a fair sky.
Water Level: ~3.07 feet high. Lake is falling slowly
GT = 0
AREAS FISHED WITH SUCCESS:
**Area 1206-904: nomadic, fast moving schooling white bass under terns
**Area 1206 largemouth in and around brush
**Area 1801 chasing popcorn white bass
**Area 085-814 – blue cat and drum on cutbait
Owner, Holding the Line Guide Service
254.368.7411 (call or text)