WHO I FISHED WITH: In just about anything else American, earning a gold star is a desirable outcome. In the military, it means you lost your life while on active duty.
Today, I fished with Bradley Warner, the son of a Gold Star soldier, the late U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Daniel Warner.
Bradley showed up punctually and eager to fish. I was particularly thankful today for all those who have helped SKIFF come into being and expand through the years. Over the holidays, Bradley’s mom, Jennifer, picked up on a SKIFF posting on the Fort Hood Area Events Facebook page, felt a trip would be a good fit for her son, and, in a matter of a few days, I was welcoming Bradley across the bow of my boat.
ABOUT SKIFF: This fishing trip was provided to this military family at no charge. S.K.I.F.F. stands for Soldiers’ Kids Involved in Fishing Fun. This program began in May of 2009. It is funded by the donations and fundraising efforts of the Austin Fly Fishers and other organizations they have partnered with. S.K.I.F.F. provides the children of military personnel separated from their families due to duty commitments with the opportunity to go fishing. SKIFF trips are also provided, free of charge, to Gold Star families who have lost their service member while he or she was on active duty. In mid-2019, SKIFF also began providing trips to dependents whose parents are bona fide disabled veterans. I coordinate and conduct these 3.5 to 4 hour adventures on Belton Lake and Stillhouse Hollow Reservoir, just outside the gates of Fort Hood in Bell County, TX, year ’round. Call or text 254.368.7411.
PHOTO CAPTION: Bradley Warner of Killeen with a pair of hefty Lake Belton white bass. During our 4-hour trip, we also landed hybrid striped bass and freshwater drum.
WHEN WE FISHED: Tuesday, 07 January 2020, AM
HOW WE FISHED: Following a very chilly 36F start, complete with a north breeze making it even chillier, we began our catching for the day by finding bottom-hugging white bass holding on a deep breakline at right around 8:10AM. The sonar returns were scarce at first, but, knowing few other forms of life would be in the areas we searched, we went ahead and dropped baits on what we saw. Before long we were boating small white bass routinely, landing a total of 19 before our luck ran out at this first stop.
We looked over 3 distinct areas thereafter and found little. I headed on to a fourth location and, as we found fish and began slabbing, the only bird action we witnessed all morning materialized right on top of us. It was great to be able to ride out this entire episode of bird action from its start at 9:44 to its conclusion around 10:40, which coincided with the cessation of the wind. The most intense bird action took place in the first 40 minutes, from 9:44 to 10:20, then tapered off afterwards. Although a few birds remained flitting around beyond 11AM, the bite all but ended when the wind laid down.
Interestingly, the slower the action got, the deeper the fish moved until, just before it got slow enough for us to call it quits, we were taking white bass off the bottom in over 60 feet of water.
Prior to the bird action, the lighter of the two slabs I traditionally rely upon (the white 3/8 oz. Hazy Eye Slab with stinger hook) used with an easing tactic worked best. As we encountered more mobile, aggressive fish under birds (and a greater proportion of hybrids mixed in), we bumped up to a 3/4 oz. slab and used a slow smoking tactic. Several times this morning we had white bass and drum regurgitate whole shad, and each matched the length of the larger 3/4 oz. slab.
Bradley was a fast learner, and had a very natural, easy hookset motion, which served him well. He also played the larger fish he hooked very patiently. As a result, we lost very few of the fish we hooked this morning.
TALLY: 57 fish caught and released
OBSERVATIONS: NNW wind = bird action. We experienced the deepest fish activity I’ve encountered thus far this winter with white bass caught on bottom in 62′.
Start Time: 7:45A
End Time: 11:45A
Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start: 36F
Elevation: 3.07′ low, 0.01′ 24-hour change, 20 CFS flow
Water Surface Temp: 53F
Wind Speed & Direction: NW7 at sunrise and for 2 hours thereafter, then slowly tapering to calm by 11:10
Sky Conditions: Bluebird skies
GT = N/A
#WhiteBassFishing #LakeBelton #StillhouseHollow
AREAS FISHED WITH SUCCESS:
**Area 1390 – easing for bottom huggers
**Area 682 thru 953 under birds
**Area B0013G endpoint of AM action in 62′ water (with lake -3′)
Full-time, Professional Fishing Guide and Owner of Holding the Line Guide Service
Belton Lake Fishing Guide, Stillhouse Hollow Fishing Guide
254.368.7411 (call or text)