WHO I FISHED WITH: This morning, Saturday, February 27th, I fished with U.S. Army Chaplain Bill Martin, his wife, Lisa, and their two boys, Gabe (12), and Nate (14). This trip was coordinated nearly two months in advance by Lisa in celebration of Gabe’s birthday.
Bill is originally from near Clemson, SC, and Lisa is originally from Helena, MT. The two met at a Cracker Barrel restaurant in their college years in South Carolina.
This is the family’s second tour to Ft. Hood.
PHOTO CAPTION: From left: Lisa, Gabe, Nate, and Bill Martin on Lake Belton in celebration of Gabe’s 12th birthday.
WHERE WE FISHED: Belton Lake
WHEN WE FISHED: Saturday (AM), 27 February 2021
HOW WE FISHED:
I initially had us down to meet at 6:50A, but bumped that back to 7:15A when I saw the NOAA revised forecast as I came off the water last night, which called for nearly 100% cloud cover this morning.
When I woke around 5A, I immediately noted the temperature had barely changed overnight, indicating thick cloud cover had retained yesterday’s daytime heating. I also noted it was humid, and that there was a wisp of fog beginning to form over Stillhouse. As I drove to Belton, the fog steadily got thicker. By the time I launched, around 6:35A, I could not see the courtesy dock from the no-wake buoys. By the time I greeted the Martins the fog was even thicker, and stayed that way through around 10:15AM.
I am not a fan of fishing in the fog because 1) it is typically accompanied by windless conditions, and 2) it denies me the ability to see bird action which, in February, can often lead to fish.
At one point in the trip, as we fished open water, well away from any shoreline, we had a flock of about a dozen sparrows circle us over and over again. I really think they were disoriented in the fog and were sizing up the boat as a landing strip on which to take a little rest!!
Knowing I’d have to find our fish with sonar this morning, and that the conditions were tough, I stopped on more marginal areas than I would under better conditions.
The first area we stopped at revealed only four individual fish holding just inches off the bottom on both 2D sonar and down-imaging in 28 feet of water. We Spot-Locked on these fish and got baits down to them (we used my 3/8 oz. Hazy Eye Slab with stinger hook for 100% of our catch this morning). Even though there was a lot of “working out the kinks” at this first stop as everyone went through the learning curve of using the tactics we employed today (slow smoking), and interpreting Garmin LiveScope, we still put 13 fish in the boat before we’d been on the water 45 minutes.
Our next stop came in about 52 feet of water. We added another 26 fish to the tally here in about another hour’s time, again via a slow smoking tactic with the small, white slabs.
As the fish at this second area began to get disinterested, we moved a third time around 10:15 as the fog just began to thin a tad, and found scant action from sparse bottom-oriented fish in 40 feet of water at two different stops about 80 yards apart. We “picked” at these fish, adding yet another 7 fish to the tally, which now stood at 46 total.
It was now around 11A and a few significant things began to happen all at once. First, the fog began to clear because a warm breeze moved in from the SE and raised the air temperature. We also began to experience a bit of rain. A quick look at weather radar revealed it was going to be light, short-lived rainfall.
I told everyone that I thought this change in the weather was going to improve our situation, and asked if everyone was okay sticking it out for a bit longer. My Army family were all troopers and decided to push through. We could hear a number of other boats scrambling to get back to the dock as we hunkered down for one final stop of the day.
This wrinkle in the weather really set the fish off. We spent the next 35 minutes landing fish at the fastest rate of the entire trip, catching our final 21 fish during this time span, and allowing everyone to go home on a positive note.
We wound up with a total of 67 fish landed, including 1 hybrid striper (short), 7 freshwater drum, and 59 white bass.
Unlike yesterday where we caught 100% of our fish from suspended schools in deep water, 90% of this morning’s fish originated on the bottom. Thanks to the fog, no bird action took place.
Hazy Eye Slabs, MAL Lures, and Stinger Hooks are found here: https://whitebasstools.com/
TALLY: 67 fish caught and released
OBSERVATIONS: Temperature profile from surface to 60 feet:
0 feet 53.2F
5 feet 52.2F
10 feet 51.1F
15 feet 50.8F
20 feet 50F
25 feet 48.7F
30 feet 48.1F
35 feet 47.7F
40 feet 47.1F
45 feet 45.2F
50 feet 44.2F
55 feet 44F
60 feet 44F
Start Time: 7:15A
End Time: 12:30P
Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start: 55F
Elevation: 0.74′ low with a 0.02’ 24-hour rise and 34 CFS flow thru the dam.
Water Surface Temp: 53.2F
Wind Speed & Direction: Light and variable from the E through 9:45A, then picking up quickly to SSW14 thereafter
Sky Condition: 100% grey, clouded skies
Moon Phase: Full moon
GT = 50
AREAS FISHED WITH SUCCESS:
**1579/1604 – early, low-light fish in 28′
**vic 1945 – 52′ with fish tight to bottom
**vic 1336 – scant fishing in 40′
**vic 717 – final stop in conjunction with weather change, 50′
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
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