WHO I FISHED WITH: This morning I fished Lake Belton with returning guest Rick Snelgrooes and his son, Sean. On this trip, Rick brought along his big sister, Renee Watson, and her husband, Craig, from the San Clemente region of California. Renee is a retired registered nurse, and Craig is a retired fire chief.
Rick is a California transplant who has really taken to fishing in Texas — to the point of building his own pond, complete with a fisheries consultant to do it right!
Rick is easy-going and good-natured, and I always look forward to the trips I run with him and his guests aboard.
PHOTO CAPTION: A blessing and a curse. Young-of-the-year shad are now present in an incredible abundance on Lake Belton. This will ensure ample forage and a healthy fishery for the year to come, but it also gives fish a readily available food source which is so small it is difficult to imitate. As I was doing some pre-dawn scouting in advance of my trip this morning I picked up this white bass in an area at which we would later return to and downrig. This white bass spit up about 25 threadfin shad fry like the ones I positioned here. Most were partially digested; these must have been just recently consumed.
PHOTO CAPTION: Renee Watson of San Clemente, CA, with a nice Lake Belton hybrid striped bass. We took this fish on a 3/4 oz. Hazy Eye Shad with Hazy Eye Stinger hook attached while fishing both artificials and live bait. Fish seemed to fire up on the artificials immediately and then quickly lost interest, leaving the bait to provide action thereafter.
PHOTO CAPTION: Like father, like son — always smiling. From left, Sean Snelgrooes and his father, Rick, landed a “double-double” — 2 sets of 2 fish at the same time, each pair coming on a downrigged 3-armed umbrella rig in water under 20 feet.
WHAT WE FISHED FOR: White bass & hybrid striped bass
WHERE WE FISHED: Belton Lake
WHEN WE FISHED: 17 June 2019, AM
HOW WE FISHED: No matter how you slice it, June and October are always tough fishing months on Belton and Stillhouse. These are months of change — June with a rapid warm up and formation of a thermocline, and October with a rapid cool down and turnover which eliminates the thermocline. Add to that some violent overnight weather, and a north wind at dawn, and it was just hard to expect the fish to do much this morning.
We persisted nonetheless and began our morning downrigging in shallow water where some white bass were showing themselves as they fed on young of the year shad they had forced to the surface.
We picked up a few singles and a few doubles, putting 9 fish in the boat before the sun broke through and shone directly for a short time, but long enough to kill the topwater and shallow bite.
We moved off-shore and searched for more heavily congregated, bottom-oriented fish. What we found was a bit frustrating — we’d graph a nice group of fish, get set up over them with bait off of one side of the boat and artificials used on the opposite side, catch a few fish, only to have them move off and not return. We picked at the fish this way for a spell, picking up both hybrid and white bass, but never really getting anything going, despite checking 6 distinct areas
In our last 90 minutes, I ran and checked an area which held no fish when I originally checked it earlier in the morning. On a gentle slope in about 43 feet of water, a handful of fish showed up on sonar suspended 4-5 feet off bottom with many more schoolmates barely separated from bottom right beneath them. Once again we put out a combination of live bait and artificials. I’ve noted from the past 3 trips on Belton that the artificials will get hit quickly, but that the fish turn off to them fairly quickly, as well. The live bait, on the other hand, produced a steady action.
When all was said and done, we’d landed 30 fish, including legal hybrid, short hybrid, white bass, largemouth bass, and a single channel cat, and missed a few more on both bait and artificials.
TALLY: 30 fish caught and released
OBSERVATIONS: There is an incredible amount of young-of-the-year shad in the lake right now, and they can be see at all depths, down to around 50 feet, with a predominance up near the surface, down about 5-8 feet. Patches of “popcorn” feeding by whites and juvenile hybrid could be seen all morning as these fish gorged on these slow, defenseless fry at will out over deep, open water as they wander aimlessly just following the food.
Start Time: 6:45a
End Time: 11:45a
Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start: Rain cooled 68F
Elevation: 1.42 feet high, 0.09 ‘ 24-hour rise, 2192 cfs flow
Water Surface Temp: 80.0F
Wind Speed & Direction: N8 at sunrise, shifting through NE to E to ENE, all at under 7mph
Sky Conditions: 90% light grey clouds entire trip
GT = 65
#WhiteBassFishing #LakeBelton #StillhouseHollow
AREAS FISHED WITH SUCCESS:
**Area vic 023-024 – downrigging under low light conditions after sighting surface feeders gorging on young of the year shad fry here under light wind conditions
**Area vic 1384 – a few deepwater fish here, but they moved quickly and did not return
**Area vic 150 – late morning bite by short hybrid and white bass in ~42′; fish were fairly well congregated in the lower 3 feet of the water column.
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Belton Lake Fishing Guide, Stillhouse Hollow Fishing Guide
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