This past Saturday, May 13, I fished a doubleheader with Jim Rogers and his nephew, Lucas Tavill, who is currently stationed at Fort Hood as a newly minted West Point second lieutenant in the Quartermaster Corps. Jim traveled in through DFW from the San Diego area where he works for a private banking institution.
Second lieutenant Lucas Tavill was treated to a full day of fishing on Lake Belton by his uncle, Jim Rogers, of San Diego. The pair landed 131 fish, including hybrid striped bass, white bass, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, and blue catfish using a variety of tactics. We fished live bait, downriggers, slabs, and subsurface baits.
Given our bright, low wind-speed forecast, I planned to immediately head for deep water this morning in pursuit of hybrid striped bass using live shad. Live bait and deep water are often a hedge against the ill effects of postfrontal weather.
Although we were the first to arrive at the area I chose as our first stop, it didn’t take long for company to join us once our rod started bending. However, thanks to the fact that we had already pulled fish in, the fact that we were using a thumper, and the fact that we were chumming, we continued to catch fish while the other boats, several of which came inconsiderately close to us, just got to watch the fishing show we put on. As often happens in such situations, it didn’t take long for our uninvited guests to move on.
We wound up fishing three very similar deep water areas this morning all in roughly 42 feet of water. The first and the last area we hit had some slope which attracted the fish holding there, and the second area we hit we stopped at only because of an abundance of nomadic fish roaming over this fairly flat area. We were able to pull in a few fish here, but after they moved on, they were gone for good. We spent about 2.5 hours at our first area, about 30 minutes at the second area, and about an hour at our last area.
The morning’s final tally was 46 fish, about 75% of which were keeper hybrid, with our largest going right at 4.25 pounds. The balance consisted of white bass, three short hybrid, one blue cat, and a single smallmouth bass.
By 11:40 we were seated in the air conditioning of the Sol de Jalisco making plans to link back up in the afternoon.
The afternoon portion of the trip began at 4:15 PM; our plan was to jig for white bass, then target hybrid in the last hour of light.
I searched a number of deep water areas looking for fish that could be worked over with the slab, found little, but noticed some very consistent suspended fish holding down around 24 to 28 feet over a 40 to 50 foot bottom out from a large point. Since Jim was was interested in how downriggers work, I saw this as an opportunity to kill two birds with one stone. We set out two tandem rigs, each equipped with two Pet Spoons on the twin downriggers. Our results were immediate – – three sets of doubles followed by more singles and doubles thereafter, and one bonus hybrid to put icing on the white bass cake.
As this bite waned, we begin looking once again with sonar for deep, bottom hugging white bass that we could jig for. This time, we were a bit more successful. We got into a nice bunch of fish holding right on bottom and 42 feet of water. Both Jim and Lucas were able to work the kinks out of the smoking tactic that we were using which set them up nicely for the next several areas we would visit which produced even more fish. We made three or four “short hops” just a few yards apart in order to stay in contact with this second group of bottom hugging white bass we found. As we took our tally through the 70s, and into the 80s, things went a bit quiet despite good numbers of fish still showing on sonar.
It was just then that Jim hooked a nice hybrid on his slab. As I observed sonar as he reeled that fish in, I saw a number of similarly sized fish ghosting along with his hooked fish. This told me there were more hybrid down there then white bass. This understood, we quickly transitioned away from slabs and white bass and got re-rigged with four live bait rods out all hung with large threadfin shad.
We took our count up to and beyond 100 fish, including a mix of white bass and hybrid striper with a nice 4.5 pound largemouth thrown in for good measure, as we stayed in this vicinity and worked the fish over with bait as sunset approached.
With our tally now at 105 fish on the day, I suggested that we could close out our trip with yet more variety by casting to subsurface fish feeding on shad. We moved and found next to no pressure at this final area we would fish, despite being out on a pleasant Saturday evening. The fish showed up as I hoped, and I got Jim and Lucas both casting paddletale grubs with jigheads to the boils which the largemouth, smallmouth, and white bass created when they rose to the surface to sip shad.
In the final 30 minutes we spent on the water, we put another 26 fish in the boat to bring our grand total on the day to 131 fish.
TOTAL = 131 FISH, all caught and released
Start/End Times: 6:45a – 11:15a, then 4:15p – 8:35p
Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start: 63F AM, 81F PM
Water Surface Temp: 73.7F AM / 78.6 PM
Wind Speed & Direction: NW12 at trip’s start, increasing to NW16
Sky Conditions: Clear, post-frontal skies with NW breeze at <8mph all day, occasionally dropping to just 2-3mph
Water Level: 0.76 feet above full pool and falling; 45 cfs release at Belton Dam
GT = 105
AREAS FISHED WITH SUCCESS:
**Area 150 – 75% hybrid, 25% white bass; 27 fish total
**Area 1944 – nomadic roamers – 5 hybrid
**Area 835- 75% hybrid, 25% white bass; 14 fish total
**Area 1909-1940 downrigging
**Area vic 295 – whites on slabs
**Area vic 387-1362 – slabs for whites, then bait for hybrid
**Area 1828 and to shore – low light subsurface work for mixed bags surface feeders
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