WHO I FISHED WITH: Each year for quite some time now, Matt Laakso has booked at least one fishing trip with me on his birthday, April 23rd. Upon the conclusion of the trip, he has typically asked me to set aside that same date the following year. 2019 was no exception, and I had 23 April 2020 set aside for him.
Last year, COVID-19 forced the closure of all non-essential businesses, including my own, so, upon getting word of that in late March of 2020, I reached out to Matt, and, without batting an eye, he asked me to put him down for his birthday in 2021. Today we conducted that trip which was 2 years in the making.
Fortunately, Matt’s son, Mitch, was able to make it in from the San Francisco Bay Area to participate.
The details of the fishing are found below, but, you guessed it … at the close of the trip we put another date down for April of 2022, Lord willing and weather permitting!
PHOTO CAPTION: From left, Mitch and Matt Laakso landed 101 white bass, 1 blue catfish, and 2 legal hybrid during their 4-hour birthday celebration for Matt who turned 54 on this date.
WHERE WE FISHED: Belton Lake
WHEN WE FISHED: Friday (AM), 23 April 2021
HOW WE FISHED:
Having fished every morning this week, I was quite in tune with where the fish were, what they were biting, and when they were biting it. At the outset of the trip, I suggested that we devote our first 2.75 hours to white bass fishing using MAL Lures in combination with Garmin LiveScope to work for high numbers of post-spawn white bass filtering back down into the lake from up in the tributaries, and then to consider investing the remaining time in pursuit of fewer, but larger, hybrid striped bass.
We worked the MAL lures in ~30 feet of water in the way described in my tutorial video (link appears below). I had one dedicated LiveScope monitor for each angler, so both Matt and Mitch had plenty of elbow room.
Due to the foggy conditions we encountered at the beginning of the trip, there was no sudden brightening of the sky as is encountered on a less cloudy/cloudless days. This nearly always causes the bite to take off slowly, and today was no exception. At our first area, we could scarcely get fish to follow our lures; at the next area we caught a few, then a few more with a higher level of aggression at our third area, and, finally, we slayed ’em for a good 45 minutes from 9:00 to 9:45AM at our final stop for white bass, taking our total catch to exactly 101 fish by that time.
At this time, I revisited the possibility of taking the live shad I’d come prepared with and putting them down on tight-lines to fish intentionally for hybrid striped bass. I warned Matt and Mitch that doing so would, at best, be slow fishing, as the hybrid fishery has not gotten off to a strong start so far this spring.
In the next 75 minutes that followed, we used large threadfin shad to provoke 4 takedowns resulting in the catch of one white bass and two legal hybrid striped bass, the largest of which was exactly 5.00 pounds on the certified scale I keep aboard.
This was a great way to end an already productive trip, and added some variety and quality to the “numbers” fishing for white bass we’d done earlier.
Looking back, I do not think it would have been wise to devote an entire 4-hours to chasing hybrid on bait quite yet — I think we just need a bit more heat and stability in the weather before the hybrid switch is flipped on.
MAL Lures are found here: https://whitebasstools.com/
Tutorial on how to fish MAL Lures is found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jDSvfXgrAUE
TALLY: 104 fish caught and released
OBSERVATIONS: This was the first morning all week in which the overnight temperature did not drop below the water’s surface temperature.
Start Time: 7:00A
End Time: 11:00A
Air Temp. @ Trip’s Start: 62F
Elevation: 0.95 feet low, .02 foot 24-hour fall, 26 CFS flow
Water Surface Temp: 62.2F
Wind Speed & Direction: SE10-12 all morning
Sky Condition: 100% grey cloud cover all morning
Moon Phase: Waxing gibbous moon at 82% illum.
GT = 55
Wx SNAPSHOT: N/A
AREAS FISHED WITH SUCCESS:
**Area B0071; MAL Lures
**Area 1369; MAL Lures
**Area 968; MAL Lures
**Area B0086C; MAL Lures
**Area 835/1541; first 2 legal hybrid landed on live shad for the 2021 season
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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