GORE-TEX GATHERINGS — 202 FISH @ BELTON

WHO I FISHED WITH:  This past Wednesday morning, January 6th, I welcomed returning guests PJ Condit and Scott Smith, joined by first-time guest Brandon Schaefer.

PJ and Scott became friends a few years ago when they attended an event at the same retreat center near Lexington, TX.

PJ is the lead minister at Community Christian Church in Round Rock, and Scott is the senior pastor at Crestview Christian Church in Copperas Cove.

Brandon, a friend of PJ’s, has spent his entire career in law enforcement.

The three fellows came out today as a result of a Facebook post I made on Monday wherein I saw pre-frontal conditions developing, and did not have anyone on the books to enjoy that opportunity.  I indicated that anyone who signed up should enjoy above average fishing thanks to the weather scenario.

That weather scenario included a 67% chance of rain with a total accumulation of 0.14 inches from 6A to 1P, so, I advised everyone to bring raingear.

Because fishing in the rain is not for everyone, I have, on occasion had parties request to postpone under conditions I knew full-well would produce some great fishing.  On such occasions, I’ve scrambled to post the opening on Facebook so the day would not be a loss.  On several occasions PJ has stepped up and claimed those openings, so, when everyone arrived this morning I observed we were “…fixing to have another Gore-Tex gathering,” knowing nature might beat us up a bit before we cashed in on the pre-frontal fishing.

 

PHOTO CAPTION: From left, Brandon Schaefer, Pastor PJ Condit, and Pastor Scott Smith during our Gore-Tex gathering on Lake Belton under pre-frontal conditions.  These fellows boated 202 fish.

WHERE WE FISHED: Belton Lake

WHEN WE FISHED: Wednesday (AM), 06 January 2021

HOW WE FISHED:

Pre-frontal fishing is the closest thing in the fishing world there is to gambling.  When all goes well, the payoff can be big, but, all doesn’t go well sometimes.

The weather scenario, according to the NOAA forecast, was for SSE winds to begin shifting through the SW, then W, then just north of W by mid-morning.  A brief chance of light rain existed during the passage of the lead edge of the front, followed by increasingly strong WNW winds.

That was the “theory”.  The reality was that we had a thick blanket of fog which no forecaster made any mention of, accompanied by light winds from the SE for about the first 3 hours of the morning.  This was because the approach of the front had slowed down.

After a nearly fishless first hour, we began to score some fish using an easing tactic in conjunction with my small, 3/8 oz. Hazy Eye Slabs with stinger hooks, up in shallow (under 25′) water.

Into our second hour, and just as everyone got in to the groove of lifting their baits, setting the hook at the right time, etc., we were beginning to put fish in the boat steadily when an incredible boom of thunder rattled the still, foggy air around us like artillery and, even though it was miles to our south and west, we all ducked, grabbed rods to lay them down, turned off sonar, and made a beeline for the nearest shoreline so we wouldn’t be the highest-profile targets out there to get lightning’s attention.

We enjoyed manly conversation in a 25-minute thunderstorming downpour while occasionally glancing at weather radar to watch the storm cell’s direction of travel.

Things were not looking good, but, bottom line: there was no way I was going to advertise above-average fishing and then take these three guys back to the dock with anything less.

We had now paid our dues.  Once that thunderstorm passed, the skies began to brighten, the fog began to clear, and the fish fishing began to ratchet up notches at a time.

Once those fish started biting, they just absolutely cranked up.  With every additional mile-per-hour of wind speed, the bite got more and more aggressive.

We fished three areas after that storm’s passage and landed exactly 202 fish, including 1 freshwater drum, 5 largemouth bass, and 195 white bass.

To catch these fish, we alternated between an easing tactic and a slow-smoking retrieve when fish were in a chasing mood and/or too far off the bottom to use an easing tactic, all with that light 3/8 oz. Hazy Eye Slab.

As the fellows quickly gained experience in scrutinizing the Garmin LiveScope screen for fish position and attitude, they slowly became adept at choosing a smoking or easing tactic, as appropriate, and that is where we really started to capitalize on the aggressive fish.

After such a slow start and having them endure the dousing they did, I kept them on on the water through 2:30P, at which time we agreed to quit only so they still had a chance of making a late lunch over at Miller’s Smokehouse!!!

We gambled, and it paid off.

Hazy Eye Slabs and Stinger Hooks are found here: https://whitebasstools.com/

TALLY: 202 fish caught and released

OBSERVATIONS:  Classic, strong, pre-frontal fishing activity experienced this morning; no helpful bird action.

TODAY’S CONDITIONS/NOTES:

Start Time:  8:00A

End Time: 2:30P

Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start: 58F

Elevation:  0.72′ low with a 0.0’ 24-hour change and 34 CFS flow thru the dam (note that Belton rose about 0.50 feet with the rain which fell last Wednesday and Thursday).

Water Surface Temp: 53.5F

Wind Speed & Direction: Calm to SSE4 as fog persisted through about 10:30A; then winds shifted SW, then W, then NW and began to intensify in the hours thereafter.  When we departed the winds were NW16 gusting 22 and blew even harder later in the afternoon.

Sky Condition: Fog through 10:30, followed by a thunderstorm, after which the cold front moved in and began clearing the skies to blue and cloudless.

Moon Phase: Last quarter moon at 49% illumination 

GT = 10

Wx SNAPSHOT:

 

AREAS FISHED WITH SUCCESS:

**Areas 099 (slow, shallow), 1177 (pre-storm), 1294 (following wind shift), 1551/1293 (following wind shift), 1614 (following wind shift)

 

Bob Maindelle

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) Website: www.HoldingTheLineGuideService.com

E-mail: Bob@HoldingTheLineGuideService.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/bobmaindelle

Twitter: www.twitter.com/bobmaindelle

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