This past Thursday morning I fished with Lee Davis and Brian Srba on Belton Lake in pursuit of white bass.
From left: Lee Davis and Brian Srba, each with quality hybrid stripers. We caught these fish on Hazy Eye Shad tandem rigs while a very large school of fish was beneath the boat in about 34 feet of water. As we used the tandem rigs (with a slab as the lower offering and a Hazy Eye Shad fly as the upper offering), both fellows caught the hybrid on the fly. Brian actually doubled up, with his second fish being a short white bass of about 7 inches. Note the two drops of milt dripping from the anal fin on Brian’s fish (on right).
From left: Lee Davis and Brian Srba with handfuls of quality white bass, each over 13.25 inches, taken beneath actively feeding birds over a 3.25 hour span on Lake Belton this morning.
Lee, who serves at the Methodist Children’s Home in Waco, lives right near Lake Whitney. Although he’s become confident in fishing live bait for the full-blooded stripers there, and catches white bass when they are “easy” (i.e. when schooling visibly on the surface), the day-in and day-out pursuit of this species with artificial baits has proven a challenge. Our aim on this trip was to give Lee an overview of effective methods for finding and catching white bass when they are not so easy (which is about 95% of the time!). Brian is a DPS State Trooper. The two got to know one another when Lee trained one of Brian’s duck hunting dogs.
After two days of bright, post-frontal conditions, cloud cover arrived at the end of the day on Wednesday and, overnight, winds began to shift out of the SW, through W, and to the NW in advance of a mild, damp cold front which would move quickly through the area, barely impacting temperatures.
Cloudy, breezy conditions are the best of the best for cool season white bass fishing and this morning was no exception. We enjoyed abundant bird activity for 3.25 of our 4.25 hours on the water. All of the fish we caught were within a 1/2 mile radius, thus we spent a lot of time with lines in the water, not moving about searching out active fish.
The first fish we encountered were the shallowest we’d find this morning, thus I was able to introduce the use of bladebaits and the techniques necessary to use them effectively. As the morning moved along, the fish moved out deeper, thus allowing me to explain how to use slabs in snap-jigging, easing, smoking, and tandem rigging. Because the fish were so active for so long, all of these tactics produced, thus allowing Lee and Brian to gain useful experience with these tactics through repetition.
As the morning bite seemed to be drawing to a close (as evidenced by the tapering of bird activity), I suggested we take advantage of the opportunity to do a downrigging demo while we still had a shot at catching suspended fish (which were showing in abundance on sonar). I demonstrated everything on our first set and the fish cooperated immediately. I then talked Lee through setting up the downrigging by himself on our second set. Once we worked out the kinks, he got his baits in the water and, again, the fish cooperated immediately.
By the time the helpful gull activity had just about ground to a halt, we’d amassed a catch of 119 fish, including several nice hybrid between 3.5 and 4.5 pounds.
TALLY = 119 fish, all caught and released
Start Time: 7:15a
End Time: 11:30a
Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start: 42F
Water Surface Temp: 58.6F
Wind Speed & Direction: NNW12-15
Sky Conditions: 100% grey overcast with light mist just before launching; damp and raw the entire trip.
Water Level: 0.33 feet above full pool
GT = 20
AREAS FISHED WITH SUCCESS:
**Area vic 1733 through 1860; all vertical work with slabs, incl. easing and slow smoking with 3/8 oz single slabs and with Hazy Eye Shad tandem rig
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